DENR asks attorney general to support its legal fight against federal overreach

Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 12:00am

DENR Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart sent a letter today to N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper requesting his office support DENR’s challenge of the “waters of the United States”(WOTUS) rule issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 “The future of North Carolina’s waters must continue to stay in North Carolina’s hands and not in Washington D.C.,” van der Vaart states in the letter. “Our state has a much better record of protecting and cleaning our waters than the federal government.”

 On June 29, the EPA published a rule that redefines WOTUS. The rule, which becomes effective Aug. 28, redefines what ditches, drainageways, wetlands, streams and other features are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. The redefinition will result in a significant expansion of federal authority and control over local water and land use management, and is expected to have the greatest impact in North Carolina on land east of Interstate 95.

 “WOTUS ignores the role of the states in protecting water quality, imposes regulatory uncertainty, and will unnecessarily stifle economic growth and prosperity with little, if any, environmental benefit,” van der Vaart continues. “This significant expansion of federal jurisdiction will affect real property in our state, and is expected to have the greatest impact on farmland in Eastern North Carolina. If the proposed rule goes into effect in its current form, newly determined federal waters would become subject to state and federal regulatory programs. Large swaths of farmland could be swept into federal jurisdiction. Many more landscape features will become federally regulated under the proposed rule, resulting in reduced land values, reductions in productive land and increased costs for land use.”

 Last month, DENR joined 29 states across the country in legal actions against the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers for exceeding their constitutional authority.