Statement on Supreme Court Ruling Limiting Wetland Protections under Clean Water Act
26 May 2023, Washington: Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Sackett v. EPA that drastically limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to protect wetlands under the Clean Water Act, with far-reaching consequences. Center for Food Safety (CFS) strongly criticizes the decision, which will leave millions of acres of wetlands and small streams unprotected.
The majority decision–which holds that only wetlands with a “continuous surface connection” to other waters can be regulated–is contrary to the plain text of the statute and Congress’s intent in passing it. It also flies in the face of the entire science of hydrology, through which waters are connected underground and out of sight.
This ruling raises serious concerns about the ability of the Clean Water Act to function as intended. By inserting its own interpretations of policy matters, the Court undermines the role of Congress and obstructs the EPA’s efforts to protect the environment. It is essential that our government functions as designed, respecting the constitutional framework and empowering Congress to make informed decisions about environmental regulation.
Comparisons can be drawn to past cases where the Court’s interpretations have limited Congress’s ability to address pressing environmental issues. CFS argues that such decisions impede the intended efficacy of legislation, as the Court takes on the role of the primary decision-maker instead of deferring to Congress.
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