Supreme Courtroom delivers blow to key Biden environmental coverage in unanimous ruling

The Supreme Courtroom issued a ruling Thursday narrowing the federal authorities’s authority regulating our bodies of water and successfully upending a Biden administration policy that lately went into impact.

The excessive court docket’s unanimous 9-0 resolution, which was delivered by Justice Samuel Alito, rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) broad definition of Waters of the US (WOTUS). The case centered round Michael and Chantall Sackett, two Idaho residents whom the EPA prohibited from constructing a house close to a wetland years in the past, citing the Clear Waters Act (CWA) of 1972.

“The EPA ordered the Sacketts to revive the location, threatening penalties of over $40,000 per day,” Alito’s majority opinion acknowledged. “The EPA categorized the wetlands on the Sacketts’ lot as ‘waters of the US’ as a result of they had been close to a ditch that fed right into a creek, which fed into Priest Lake, a navigable, intrastate lake. The Sacketts sued, alleging that their property was not ‘waters of the US.’”

The ruling in the end held that the federal authorities’s WOTUS definition have to be restricted to a water supply with a “steady floor connection” to main our bodies of water. 


Joe Biden, Michael Regan

President Biden speaks with EPA Administrator Michael Regan throughout a White Home occasion on environmental justice. (Drew Angerer/Getty Photos)

“Understanding the CWA to use to wetlands which can be distinguishable from in any other case lined ‘waters of the US’ would considerably broaden [existing statute] to outline ‘navigable waters’ as ‘waters of the US and adjoining wetlands,'” Alito wrote.

The ruling, which was cheered by Republican lawmakers and teams representing landowners, comes months after the EPA finalized and applied a brand new WOTUS regulation. 


On Dec. 30, the ultimate working day of 2022, the EPA and the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers quietly introduced they’d approved the WOTUS regulation and that it could be applied in March. After asserting it, EPA Administrator Michael Regan mentioned the rule “safeguards our nation’s waters.”

The rule opened the door for the federal authorities to control wetlands, lakes, ponds, streams and “comparatively everlasting” waterways, largely mimicking a pre-2015 environmental rule set through the Obama administration which applied the modifications in an effort to curb water pollution. The regulation was the broadest interpretation so far of which water sources require safety below the CWA.

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden speaks on the White Home on April 24. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu Company by way of Getty Photos)

Business teams, Republican lawmakers in Congress and a number of states blasted the regulation for example of federal overreach and demanded that it’s rescinded. In April, a federal choose granted a request from 24 states and a number of other commerce teams to pause implementation of the regulation. And the Home and Senate each accredited a regulation rejecting the regulation.


“As we speak, the Supreme Courtroom despatched a loud and clear warning shot to the Biden administration about its makes an attempt to overregulate the lives of hundreds of thousands of Individuals,” mentioned Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the rating Member of the Senate Setting and Public Works Committee. 

“By rejecting the ‘important nexus’ check, the Courtroom protected America’s farmers, ranchers, builders, and landowners from overreach below the Clear Water Act, and dominated President Biden’s latest WOTUS rule goes too far,” Capito added. “I used to be proud to each assist the petitioners on this case final yr and lead a profitable effort this yr in Congress to overturn the Biden WOTUS rule, and am thrilled with the Courtroom’s resolution at present, which is a serious win for particular person freedom.”

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., mentioned the court docket dominated in favor of “the Structure, the American folks, and our freedoms” and referred to as on the EPA to formally rescind its WOTUS regulation.

The Waters Advocacy Coalition, a bunch representing farmers, applauded the Supreme Courtroom for preserving water protections whereas delivering readability for farmers and landowners.

“The Courtroom’s opinion additionally upends the Biden Administration’s overreaching WOTUS rule,” the group mentioned. “After many years of makes an attempt to develop the federal authorities’s energy over personal land, America’s job creators and farmers can proceed with extra certainty in delivering essential companies our financial system will depend on, from rising wholesome meals to constructing reasonably priced houses and producing home power.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *