Laxalt sues again!

Now that’s interesting.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt today joined a North Dakota lawsuit, along with 11 other states, seeking to invalidate regulations over water that Laxalt claims are unconstitutional. With characteristic bellicosity and a raft of conclusory statements, Laxalt denounced the president and the administration.

His news release, sent at 10:53 a.m.:

“Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt filed suit on behalf of Nevada challenging the new federal ‘Waters of the United States’ rule. Nevada joins a bipartisan coalition of 13 states suing to invalidate the rule. The new rule would expand federal powers over state and local waters well beyond what Congress originally intended when it limited these powers to ‘navigable waters.’ The rule drastically increases the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) control over land and water resources across the nation by imposing burdensome requirements on public and private entities. Western states would be particularly impacted by the regulations.

“’I will fight for Nevada each time President Obama attempts to unilaterally “transform” this country through expansive and unconstitutional new interpretations of decades-old laws. My office has pledged a commitment to protecting our state from unreasonable federal overreach and will continue to do so at every opportunity,’ said Attorney General Laxalt.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected attempts by the EPA and the Corps to assert authority over various bodies of water. Ignoring the Court’s limitations, this new rule attempts to extend federal authority so broadly that small ponds, small streams that are generally dry, irrigation ditches, and even storm water ditches could fall under the authority of the federal government.

“’This is the latest power grab by this presidential administration to expand federal oversight into areas that are better managed by state and local governments,’ said Laxalt. ‘Congress directed that the states retain their sovereign authority over state land and water resources. The “Waters of the United States” rule would grant the EPA authority over areas properly regulated by state and local governments. This expansive new rule is particularly problematic for states like Nevada, whose specific needs cannot be understood by federal agencies such as the EPA, with its one-size-fits-all approach to regulation.”

OK, then. But what made this release really interesting was one that followed about three hours later, from Gov. Brian Sandoval, who announced that he’d “authorized” Laxalt to join the litigation.

Said Sandoval’s statement:

“Nevadans have worked together for generations to conserve, protect, and maintain our precious natural resources. Nevada has been, and continues to be, a willing partner with federal agencies and administrative bodies,” Governor Sandoval said. “The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Nevada Department of Agriculture and the Colorado River Commission of Nevada submitted significant comments on the Clean Water Act Proposed Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” prepared by USEPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Upon release of the final rule, it was evident that Nevada’s comments were not addressed by the federal agencies. Therefore, I authorized the Nevada attorney general to join in this lawsuit opposing the final rule.”

Notice that? Nice, calm, reasonable, and articulating a basis for entering a lawsuit against the federal government beyond the doctrine of “Because FREEDOM!”

But it’s also telling in another way, because Laxalt has not always asked the governor for his approval to enter lawsuits. That was the case back in January, when Laxalt joined 25 other states suing the federal government to overturn President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Although staffers for both Laxalt and Sandoval had discussed the matter, Sandoval had not given his OK for the lawsuit before Laxalt acted, and even after a meeting with Sandoval, Laxalt did not withdraw the state from the litigation. (The attorney general has the authority under state law to sue, even without the governor’s permission. In other words, authorization is not required.)

The dual releases, then, are a sign that Laxalt is trying to play nice with Sandoval, and that the governor wants people to know when he has concurred in the filing or joining of a lawsuit. And given that Sandoval has had a somewhat fractious relationship with his fellow constitutional officers (four out of the five of whom opposed his tax package during the 2015 Legislature, with varying degrees of volume), it’s always nice to be reminded that there’s some cooperation in Carson City.

Besides, Republicans of all stripes, whether moderate or conservative, can agree on bashing the EPA! Who created that infernal agency again? Oh, wait…

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