The world's largest business lobby is adding its voice to the legal fight against new Environmental Protection Agency water rules, which it says will add complexity and expense to new business ventures.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sued the EPA on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma over the agency's recently implemented Waters of the U.S. rule, joining nearly 30 states and a growing chorus of industry groups challenging the rules as unconstitutional federal overreach.
"EPA's regulatory overreach harms American enterprise by creating a vague rule to be implemented within a technically complex, expensive and time-consuming permitting process that will cause unnecessary expense and delay, and force many of our members to walk away from valuable business ventures," said William Kovacs, the chamber's environment and regulatory vice president.
The chamber lawsuit says the new regulation "disrupts" the "careful balance" between the federal government and states that Congress set forth in the Clean Water Act, which outlines the EPA's authority in protecting waterways.
The Waters of the U.S. rule expands the definition of "navigable waterways" under the EPA's authority, expanding federal jurisdiction over ditches and drainage holes that have been covered by states. The definition also would make business and others subject to federal enforcement action and compliance measures, say states, farmers and ranchers opposing the rules.
"Further, the agencies failed to comply with their statutory obligation to assess the economic harm numerous industries and small businesses will suffer because of the regulation," the Chamber said in a statement.
The lawsuit follows challenges by nearly 30 states that say the rules violate the Constitution as an affront to state sovereignty. The lawsuits began flowing steadily after the EPA published the rule in the Federal Register about two weeks ago.
Business and industry groups followed the states' lead, with the Chamber of Commerce being the largest group to add to those challenges. The National Association of Manufacturers and a number of other industry trade groups representing a broad cross-section of interests filed a lawsuit earlier this month in a Texas district court.
The groups in the National Association of Manufacturers suit include: the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Petroleum Institute, American Road and Transportation Builders Association, Leading Builders of America, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of Home Builders, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Mining Association, National Pork Producers Council, Public Lands Council and the Texas Farm Bureau.