Breaking: Supreme Court Unanimously Rejects Key Biden Environmental Policy Regulating Bodies of Water

Disclaimer:  This article may contain the personal views and opinions of the author.

As the Biden administration tries to expand government authority, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that will restrict government regulation of bodies of water. 

The ruling hands the Biden administration a defeat relating to a policy that recently went into effect. 

The policy allowed for government regulation of lakes, ponds, streams, “relatively permanent” waterways, and wetlands under the Clean Waters Act. 

The unanimous decision, delivered by Justice Alito, rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) broad definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). 

“The case centered on Michael and Chantall Sackett,” according to Fox News. The two were Idaho residents who were planning to build a home near a wetland. 

The EPA prohibited them from building the home, “citing the Clean Waters Act (CWA) of 1972.”

“The EPA ordered the Sacketts to restore the site, threatening penalties of over $40,000 per day,” Alito’s majority opinion stated. 

“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, alleging that their property was not ‘waters of the United States.’”

The ruling from the high court said that the federal government needs to restrict the definition of WOTUS. It should be a water source with a “continuous surface connection” to major bodies of water.

The court was split 5-4 on how the government should determine the definition of water sources despite the unanimous ruling.

“Understanding the CWA to apply to wetlands that are distinguishable from otherwise covered ‘waters of the United States’ would substantially broaden [existing statute] to define ‘navigable waters’ as ‘waters of the United States and adjacent wetlands,’” Alito wrote.

The EPA only recently finalized and implemented the new WOTUS regulations in March 2023 and now needs to do a reversal.

Republican lawmakers and groups working in the best interest of landowners applauded the ruling. These groups considered the policy to be government overreach.

“Today, the Supreme Court sent a loud and clear warning shot to the Biden administration about its attempts to overregulate the lives of millions of Americans,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“By rejecting the ‘significant nexus’ test, the Court protected America’s farmers, ranchers, builders, and landowners from overreach under the Clean Water Act, and ruled President Biden’s recent WOTUS rule goes too far,” Capito added.

“I was proud to both support the petitioners on this case last year and lead a successful effort this year in Congress to overturn the Biden WOTUS rule, and am thrilled with the Court’s decision today, which is a major win for individual freedom.”

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., described the ruling as a win for “the Constitution, the American people, and our freedoms.”

“The Court’s opinion also upends the Biden Administration’s overreaching WOTUS rule,” said the Waters Advocacy Coalition, a group representing farmers, adding that the ruling gives farmers and landowners clarity.

“After decades of attempts to expand the federal government’s power over private land, America’s job creators and farmers can proceed with more certainty in delivering critical services our economy depends on, from growing healthy foods to building affordable homes and producing domestic energy.”

It’s time to get back to policies that put America first!

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