CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that West Virginia leads a letter on behalf of 14 states encouraging the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to pass the Federal Water Quality Protection Act addressing the unlawful rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defining “waters of the United States.”
In the letter, jointly authored by Morrisey and attorneys general from Oklahoma, Wyoming and Nebraska, state leaders ask the committee to “move quickly and pass the act.” The legislation was co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of senators, including Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
The letter states that the proposed rule ignores the statutory division of authority between the states and the federal government. The letter also notes the rule has many legal issues that would impose redundant regulations on farmers, developers, and homeowners.
“Moving forward with the rule as is will subject many private citizens to unnecessary confusion and regulations,” Morrisey said. “Our state will be impacted in a big way, costing many West Virginia landowners a lot of time, money and resources to comply with extensive federal regulations.”
The Act would require EPA and the Corps to withdraw the illegal Proposed Rule, and to replace that Rule with a narrow, lawful alternative, which protects interstate, navigable waters, while preserving the States’ primary authority over local waters and lands. The Act also requires the agencies, in designing this new rule, to consult with State and local governments, so that the agencies can understand the water protection programs already in place at the State and local level.
“The Act addresses many of our concerns with the Proposed Rule. It will improve the quality of the final rule the agencies adopt, and will ensure proper respect for the States’ statutory and constitutional rights and responsibilities,” said Morrisey. “We encourage the Senate to adopt the Act.”
The letter was signed by attorneys general from 12 states — West Virginia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, and Wisconsin — and the governors of Iowa and Mississippi.