WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation filed a federal lawsuit this week against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, arguing that the new “2020 Waters of the United States Rule” diminishes the number and extent of Navajo waters protected by the Clean Air Act.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, alleges that the new rule could also adversely impact the amount of federal funding that the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency receives for its water programs.
“At this point in time, with climate change occurring around the world, it’s more prudent than ever to protect our land, water and air,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement. “We, as Diné People, have a duty to preserve and conserve our natural resources to ensure that our future generations have access to clean water, air and land. The previous 2015 Waters of the United States rule provided clarity in protecting our Nation’s waters.”
The Nez administration is proposing to use $300 million from the CARES Act funding that the Navajo Nation received for water infrastructure and agriculture projects, which will require clean water resources to develop and construct.
“Our Navajo people always say that water is life, and that’s very true. When we plan for any type of water projects, we are planning for future generations, not just for today or tomorrow. Clean water is a necessity for life,” Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said in a statement.