FRANKFORT, Ky. (February 22, 2023) – Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (the Corps) new rule re-defining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS). Cameron said this final rule would unnecessarily burden farmers and landowners engaging in everyday farming activities. In the lawsuit, he asks a federal court to set aside the final rule and prohibit the agencies from enforcing it.
“The Biden Administration’s new WOTUS rule requires Kentucky farmers to choose between paying costly permit fees or facing the risk of significant civil or criminal penalties for making simple changes to their property,” said Cameron. “This policy would devastate Kentucky’s agricultural industry and farming heritage, and we will not stand by and allow President Biden to advance his radical climate policies at the expense of our economy.”
In December of 2022, the EPA and the Corps adopted a final rule re-defining WOTUS to expand the agencies’ jurisdiction, giving them authority to regulate nearly all water and vast areas of land, including farmland in Kentucky.
In his lawsuit, Cameron argues the final rule violates the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (CWA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
He also argues that the new rule usurps Kentucky’s authority to manage intrastate waters and land reserved to the Commonwealth under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit states, “Under the Tenth Amendment, ‘[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution…are reserved to the States respectively, or the people.’ Nothing in the Constitution delegates to the federal government general powers over land-use planning, regulation, and zoning.”
Cameron said that the final rule will impose significant harm to the Commonwealth, farmers, and landowners by increasing “planning and permitting costs for state infrastructure projects” and creating “tremendous barriers to produce livestock and crops.”
“The burdensome regulations and related increase in planning and permitting costs imposed by the new WOTUS rule would be an administrative nightmare for the Commonwealth and Kentucky farmers and landowners,” said active member of the Barren County farming community Billy Beckham. “Kentucky farmers deserve better, and I’m grateful to Attorney General Cameron for pushing back against President Biden’s attempt to impose these burdensome regulations on Kentucky farmers.”
Under the new rule, Cameron’s office said that Kentucky farmers, landowners, and developers may face significant civil or criminal penalties for making the simplest of changes to their own property. Even everyday farming activities—plowing, planting, or fence building—could be subject to regulation under the rule.
To read a copy of the complaint, click here.