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Attorney General Sean Reyes Joins 20-State Coalition Urging EPA to Respect the States in WOTUS Review

SALT LAKE CITY June 20, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes joined a 20-state coalition in requesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency preserve the role of the states in protecting the nation’s water sources.

The coalition filed its letter Monday as part of the EPA’s ongoing review of its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The attorneys general outlined regulatory overreach present in the existing rule and offered suggestions to better respect the authority of states going forward.

“The WOTUS Rule is unlawful…and significantly impinges upon the States’ traditional role as the primary regulators of land and water resources within their borders,” Attorney General Reyes joined in writing. “We write to suggest how the [EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] can write a rule that respects Congress’s instruction.”

The letter requests a concrete definition of the term “waters of the United States.” In doing so, it suggests the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers should preserve the states’ role in protecting water resources, especially those within the border of individual states.

The attorneys general also suggest any final definition should adopt a framework consistent with Supreme Court precedent. That includes that federal agencies can only assert authority over permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographic features.

The letter expresses that rather than claiming jurisdiction over vast amounts of water and land, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers should consider the active role each state already plays in safeguarding its waterways.

The Obama-era regulation, if implemented, would have taken jurisdiction over natural resources from states and put it in the hands of federal agencies. This included almost any body of water, such as isolated streams, hundred-year floodplains, and roadside ditches.

Many of these states won a nationwide stay that blocked enforcement of the rule and proved crucial in providing time for a new administration to reconsider the rule.

Utah Attorney General Reyes signed the letter with West Virginia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

Read a copy of the letter at http://bit.ly/2tGljKk.

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State of Utah to File Notice to Sue Environmental Protection Agency

SALT LAKE CITY Feb. 12, 2016 – As the investigation into the Gold King Mine spill continues, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will file notice of claim against the federal government for its role in the disaster. Recently, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) discovered that water sample results taken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late 2015 after the spill showed elevated levels of metals. The results had not previously been shared with the State of Utah.

“From the beginning we have evaluated Utah’s legal options to ensure the EPA lives up to its promise to be fully accountable and transparent – and to make our citizens and environment whole,” said Utah Attorney General Reyes.  “After the spill, we waited to take legal action because in good faith we hoped that cooperation with the EPA could bring more rapid reimbursement and remediation.  Perhaps there is a still a chance for that to happen, but Utah needs to be in a position to file a lawsuit if the federal government is not more responsive and transparent.  The discovery that the EPA did not share relevant information is a cause for serious concern and could lead to additional claims after we have fully investigated that omission.”

The action will put all parties on notice that Utah intends to sue the federal government under RCRA and the Clean Water Act and begins the litigation process.

“It’s critical that we ensure that the EPA, and any other potentially liable entities, are held legally responsible not just for short term effects but for damage that may not be known or understood for years to come,” said AG Reyes.

Upon notice of the disaster, a team of lawyers from the Office of the Utah Attorney General lent support to the vitally important actions of its clients including the Utah Departments of Environmental Quality and Public Safety – and their Divisions of Water Quality and Emergency Management. These agencies began immediate monitoring of impacts to Utah’s waters and evaluating short and long-term health, environmental and recreational impacts to Utah citizens and tribal nations along the San Juan River.

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U.S. Supreme Court Halts EPA’s Unlawful Power Plan

STATE OF UTAH STATEMENT ON SCOTUS STAY OF CPP

SALT LAKE CITY Feb. 10, 2016 — The State of Utah is pleased that the United States Supreme Court has blocked enforcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (the EPA) “111(d)” regulation, a landmark carbon rule for power plants. The Supreme Court’s order prohibits the EPA from implementing the rule until the states’ legal challenge is resolved by the courts.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes welcomed the Supreme Court’s action.

“Such a dramatic expansion of the EPA’s authority to regulate our economy without restraint warrants clear direction and clear legal authorization from Congress, which has not yet been granted,” said Herbert.

“This decision recognizes the dangerous impact the rule will have on our state,” said Reyes. “We all want better air quality and a healthy environment for our families and future generations, but not by bypassing Congress, violating the Clean Air Act, and ignoring meaningful input by the States.”

Led by the Attorney General’s Office, Utah joined the challenge of the  EPA’s rule, also known as the Clean Power Plan, and requested that courts overturn this unprecedented federal regulatory expansion. Utah joined West Virginia and twenty-two other states in challenging the EPA’s approach to regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that would unlawfully hinder Utah’s ability to make fundamental decisions central to the quality of life and economy growth.

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