The Supreme Court voted to rein in the power of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate wetlands in a complex decision issued on May 25, the second time in a year that the court has curbed federal environmental authority.
All three liberal justices and one conservative justice expressed their opposition to the court’s decision to adopt a new definition for wetlands.
The nation’s high court ruled in favor of an Idaho couple who have been battling federal officials for years over the right to develop their own property.
The ruling involved the controversial “waters of the United States” rule that critics say has led to excessive and, at times, overzealous regulation of private lands by the EPA.
The couple’s lawyer, Damien Schiff of the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), said the ruling “returns the scope of the Clean Water Act to its original and proper limits.”
“Courts now have a clear measuring stick for fairness and consistency by federal regulators. Today’s ruling is a profound win for property rights and the constitutional separation of powers,” Schiff said in a statement.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan promptly denounced the ruling, saying that it “erodes longstanding clean water protections.”
“As a public health agency, EPA is committed to ensuring that all people, regardless of race, the money in their pocket, or community they live in, have access to clean, safe water. We will never waver from that responsibility,” he said in a statement.
The case, Sackett v. EPA (court file 21-454), was argued on Oct. 3, 2022.
Agencies Ordered Work to Stop
Chantell and Mike Sackett had started building a new home in Priest Lake, Idaho, when the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers suddenly ordered them to stop all work. The government agencies stated that the couple needed a federal permit and threatened them with more than $30,000 in daily fines.