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BISMARCK, N.D. -- Thirteen states led by North Dakota asked a federal judge Monday to delay a new rule that gives federal authorities jurisdiction over some state waters.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a motion late Monday in Bismarck seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the rule from taking effect Aug. 28.

Stenehjem said he was hopeful a judge will grant a hearing on the injunction within the next few days.

North Dakota is leading a lawsuit filed June 29 that challenges a rule from President Barack Obama's administration that gives federal agencies authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Stenehjem said the "Waters of the U.S." rule by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers is "unnecessary" and "unlawful."

"The rule is perhaps the most controversial and widely objectionable rule that would usurp state and local control over vast reaches of water in North Dakota and across the nation," he said in a statement.

The rule is a response to calls from the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress for the EPA to clarify which smaller waterways are protected. The EPA said the rule aims to help landowners understand which waters fall under the Clean Water Act.

Some landowners are worried that even a ditch or puddle could fall under federal regulations.

States joining the lawsuit with North Dakota are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Stenehjem and attorneys general and officials from 30 states sent a letter last month to the EPA and the Corps asking that the new rule be postponed at least nine months.

"A federal regulation of this scope and significance demands a thorough judicial review before imposing costly and disruptive burdens on the states and their citizens," the letter said.

The agencies have not responded to the letter.

Robert Daguillard, an EPA spokesman, said Monday that the agency is still "carefully reviewing" the letter.

In addition to the lawsuit led by North Dakota, dozens of others have been filed by businesses, agricultural groups and others in at least eight U.S. district courts.

The EPA and the Corps have asked that the lawsuits be consolidated in a single district court.

Stenehjem said his injunction request asks that the lawsuits not be consolidated.

"We think we have specific arguments," he said.

A Section on 08/11/2015

Print Headline: Block water rule, states urge judge


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