May 2023

Three Cheers for the Rights of the American People!

The Supreme Court by a vote of 9 to 0 has limited the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate bodies of water in the United States.  The high court issued an opinion that narrowed the EPA’s broad definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS).  The court said that the federal government must define WOTUS as a water source with a “continuous surface connection” to major bodies of water. 

The Biden administration had attempted to regulate wetlands, lakes, ponds, streams and other “relatively permanent” waterways, which had relied on a broad reading of the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The case involves two Idaho residents (Michael and Chantell Sackett) who wanted to build a home near a wetland years ago.  The EPA prohibited building of the home.  The EPA ordered the couple to restore the site, threatening penalties of over $40,000 per day.  “The EPA classified the wetlands on the Sacketts’ lot as “waters of the United States” because they were near a ditch that fed into a creek, which fed into Priest Lake, a navigable, intrastate lake.  The Sacketts sued claiming that their property was not “waters of the United States.”

 In a 5 to 4 ruling the Court said that the law does not allow the EPA to regulate the discharges into the wetlands that are near a body of water, unless the wetland has a continuous connection to those waters.

When older people say “Enjoy them while they are young” they are talking about your knees and hips, not your kids.

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