Supreme Court rules EPA overreached on Clean Water Act

NAFB News Service

The Supreme Court Thursday ruled 9-0 that the EPA went too far with its enforcement of the Clean Water Act. 

Travis Cushman, American Farm Bureau Federation Deputy General Counsel, said the ruling in Sackett v. EPA confirms that the EPA clearly overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act.

“The court unanimously ruled in favor of the Sackett family. This is a huge, huge win. Essentially, the EPA and the US Army Corps definition of WOTUS, the court found to be just wildly unlawful, not even close to what it should look like,” Cushman said.

He added that the Supreme Court decision brings more clarity to the rule for farmers and ranchers.

“The interpretation the Supreme Court adopted was the same one that we’ve been advocating for,” Cushman said. “Basically, it means that farms and ranches should now be able to have much greater clarity on where jurisdiction begins and ends, what features in their lands are safe to farm on. Beforehand, the EPA could essentially claim jurisdiction over almost anything, and now that ability of the EPA is much, much, more limited to things that the Clean Water Act actually contemplates as waters.”

Cushman said the ruling does not vacate the 2023 WOTUS Rule, but practically that rule is now gutted.

“It does not directly impact the current rule explicitly, except the court does talk about the current rule. It says the current rule would not withstand judicial scrutiny, it would be unlawful so the current rule remains in the book,” Cushman said. “But practically speaking, EPA, the U.S. Army Corps can’t be implementing it anywhere, and the EPA will need to go back we write a new rule. Right now, AFBF is suing the EPA and the Corps over this current rule, so hopefully those cases will now be very easy for us to win.”

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