Attorney General Jay Nixon has filed a challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to try and stop a decision that could be a backdoor way to transfer water from the Missouri River basin to the Red River basin. Missouri joined 8 other states and a Canadian province of Manitoba in a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York declaring the water transfer loophole illegal.
The states and Manitoba want the courts to reverse an EPA decision changing a long-standing rule requiring federal Clean Water Act permits for discharging polluted water from one water body to another. The lawsuit seeks to have the Court invalidate the EPA’s June 9, 2008 regulation and declare the water transfer loophole illegal. They argue that nothing in the federal Clean Water Act gives the EPA the authority to eliminate the permit requirement for these transfers.
The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has twice rejected this EPA regulation as has a federal district court in Florida, said Spokesman Scott Holste with the Attorney General’s office.
"What this means in layman’s terms is that pretty much anybody would be able to transfer water from one water body to another without having the oversight and regulation that is connected to having a federal clean water permit," he said.
If this regulation sticks, Holste said there could be problems for the river ecosystem.
"I think one of the concerns about transferring water from one basin to the other is also the possibility that you’re going to have native species of fish that can be transferred between water shed," he said. "Anytime you have that type of transfer of species of fish or other aquatic life it can cause problems for the existing aquatic life that could be in the river."