Nessel withdraws from lawsuit challenging EPA water oversight

    Lake Michigan | Creative Commons

    Attorney General Dana Nessel removed the state from a lawsuit that sought to limit federal authority over bodies of water, her office announced Friday.

    Dana Nessel addresses MCRC on Feb. 1 | Ken Coleman

    The case, originally filed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, aimed to halt a rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers impacting which bodies of water fell under federal jurisdiction, under the Clean Water Act.

    “As Michiganders, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the Great Lakes and all our waterways and wetlands,” Nessel said in a statement. “While Michigan has protective regulations in place, this lawsuit sought to weaken the federal law which establishes minimum nationwide standards for protecting our shared water resources, including the Great Lakes. This was a compelling reason for us to withdraw.

    “Michigan won’t be party to a lawsuit that could jeopardize the nation’s largest freshwater shoreline and all waters we’re entrusted to protect,” Nessel continued. “And we certainly won’t stand a watered-down policy.”

    Paul Mitchell

    Nessel filed a motion to remove Michigan from the suit “because it will not materially prejudice the rights of the other parties,” the motion said.

    U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) slammed the new Democratic attorney general’s decision in a statement.

    Mitchell called the 2015 rule, enacted under the former President Barack Obama Administration, a “brazen attempt to expand its regulatory authority over almost any body of water in America — including ditches, pipes, watersheds, and farmland ponds.

    “This power grab has had serious consequences on agriculture production and has sparked outrage in farming communities across the country including in Michigan, which rightly joined a lawsuit to stop it,” he continued.

    Michael Gerstein
    Michael Gerstein covers the governor’s office, criminal justice and the environment. Before that, he wrote about state government and politics for the Detroit News, the Associated Press and MIRS News and won a Society of Professional Journalism award for open government reporting. He studied philosophy at Michigan State University, where he wrote for both The State News and Capital News Service. He began his journalism career freelancing for The Sturgis Journal, his hometown paper.

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