The Fate of the Clean Water Act is in the Supreme Court’s Hands
This Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the first oral arguments of its new term. The first case before the Court will be Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will examine what waterways and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. With the backing of industry interests, the Sacketts are asking the Court to revisit settled legal interpretations and a stable regulatory system that have allowed EPA to protect our water from toxic contamination and pollution for decades. The stakes are high; everyone in this country who relies on and expects clean water may be affected.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice’s Senior Vice President of Program Sam Sankar:
“The Clean Water Act is one the most successful, effective, and widely supported pieces of legislation ever enacted, and weakening its protections would be catastrophic. The Supreme Court should not be revisiting its prior decisions in a way that hamstrings our government’s ability to protect the health of people and our environment. That’s especially true now, when EPA is in the midst of developing new regulations to clarify the reach of the Clean Water Act.
“We are seeing the culmination of a long-term campaign to transform the Court from an institution that protects real people, into one that serves deregulatory industry interests. It is not the proper role of the courts to undermine environmental protections adopted by democratically elected branches of government, particularly when people have relied on those protections for decades. Last term, the Court rolled back protections against climate change under the Clean Air Act. If the Court uses the Sackett case to roll back Clean Water Act protections, that will demonstrate the breadth of its deregulatory agenda and the threats to our environmental laws.
“As our nation confronts the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and environmental injustice, we need judges who recognize the value of our federal environmental laws, the importance of sound science, and the proper role of the judiciary. We need the Supreme Court to uphold the law for people and our planet.”
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.