Supreme Court Limits Clean Water Act’s Power

A recent ruling ‘dramatically’ restricts the law’s reach when it comes to protecting wetlands.

2 minute read

May 31, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Writing in Politico, Annie Snider describes the decision in Sackett v. EPA, a Supreme Court ruling that will dramatically limit the scope of the 1972 Clean Water Act

As Snider explains, “The Sackett case centers on a patch of wetlands on property owned by Chantell and Michael Sackett near Priest Lake, Idaho. The couple, who had planned to build their dream home on the property, have been tangling with EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers for a decade and a half over whether it should be subject to Clean Water Act permitting requirements.” 

The justices agreed that the wetlands on the couple’s property should not be subject to regulation, but the majority decision ruled that “only those wetlands with a continuous surface water connection to larger streams, lakes and rivers would get federal protections,” drastically reducing the reach of the regulations.

President Biden disagreed with the 5-4 ruling, saying that the decision “defies the science that confirms the critical role of wetlands in safeguarding our nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes from chemicals and pollutants that harm the health and wellbeing of children, families, and communities.”

Snider adds that “The Biden administration must now decide how to proceed. At a minimum, the regulation it finalized in January will need to be reworked in light of the new ruling. That rule is currently in effect in fewer than half of the states; the other half are covered by judicial freezes.”

Thursday, May 25, 2023 in Politico

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