EPA announces policy change following Supreme Court ruling

 August 30, 2023

The Biden administration made a major policy reversal this week in response to a Supreme Court decision that came down earlier in the year. 

At issue was the court's ruling in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, which significantly narrowed the definition of what can be regulated as Waters of the United States (WOTUS).

EPA head "disappointed" by ruling

Fox News reported that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan responded by issuing a statement on Tuesday in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"While I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Sackett case, EPA and Army have an obligation to apply this decision alongside our state co-regulators, Tribes, and partners," Regan said.

"We’ve moved quickly to finalize amendments to the definition of 'waters of the United States' to provide a clear path forward that adheres to the Supreme Court’s ruling," he continued.

"EPA will never waver from our responsibility to ensure clean water for all," Regan pledged. "Moving forward, we will do everything we can with our existing authorities and resources to help communities, states, and Tribes protect the clean water upon which we all depend."

Republican senator says changes do not go far enough

However, Regan's statement was met with criticism from West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who responded with a statement of her own.

"Despite our warnings that the Biden WOTUS rule was clear regulatory overreach and the Supreme Court soundly rejecting its 'waters of the United States' definition, the administration continues to take an unserious approach to issuing a durable rule that provides stability to millions of Americans," Capito complained

"I’m disappointed this rushed rule lacks public outreach and real transparency, results in a definition that is at odds with the law, and will likely be rejected once again in the courts," she declared.

Also voicing criticism was the Waters Advocacy Coalition, a group representing small businesses, farmers and ranchers, homebuilders and manufacturers.

Group unsatisfied with new policy

"This revised rule does not adequately comply with Supreme Court precedent and with the limits on regulatory jurisdiction set forth in the Clean Water Act," group chairwoman Courtney Briggs was quoted as saying. "Even worse, the agencies blocked public input and engagement in the revision process."

"This is unfortunate as clean water is a public health and economic priority for our nation’s businesses, their employees, customers and the communities in which they operate," Briggs continued.

"The administration is proving again that it does not understand that categorizing land or water features as non-federal waters does not mean that they are unprotected and that it intends to broaden the scope of the federal government’s power — even if it defies the law," she added.

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Thomas Jefferson
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