What They Are Saying: SCOTUS Ruling is a Win for Rural America

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Industry leaders and associations representing rural America released statements in response to the Supreme Court decision on the Sackett v. EPA case in favor of the Sacketts, delivering a major blow to the EPA’s onerous “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS rule.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall: “All nine Justices in Sackett agreed that EPA’s ‘significant nexus’ test illegally asserted federal jurisdiction over wetlands and private farmland that are miles from the nearest navigable water. This decision leaves no room for doubt. EPA must rewrite its Waters of the U.S. Rule, as Farm Bureau has been calling for. Farmers and ranchers deserve a clear rule that enables them to properly care for their land.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President and South Dakota cattle producer Todd Wilkinson: “Cattle producers across the country can breathe a sigh of relief today. Since EPA’s adoption of the “significant nexus” test, cattle producers have had to retain costly legal services to determine if water features on their property are federally jurisdictional. Today’s Supreme Court opinion refocuses the Clean Water Act on protecting our water resource through regulatory clarity. We look forward to working with the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as they implement the Court’s new Continuous Surface Connection standard.”

Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) Vice President of Law and Policy Jonathan Wood: “Today’s ruling brings significant clarity to federal wetlands regulation but also signals the need to ramp up voluntary wetland conservation. For decades, uncertainty over the extent of Clean Water Act regulation has made wetlands a liability for private landowners. All nine justices rejected the prior vague standard in favor of relatively narrow understandings of federal authority over private property. Now that fewer wetlands will be regulatory liabilities for private landowners, it’s time for voluntary conservation efforts to make wetlands an asset to landowners.”

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Ted McKinney: “The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Sackett v. EPA today comes as welcome news to farmers, landowners and state departments of agriculture who sought clarity on what has been an over-litigated issue for decades. We take relief in this decision as the justices clearly state the ‘significant nexus theory is particularly implausible’ and the EPA has no statutory basis to impose the standard. Today’s ruling proves that protecting our nation’s waterways and growing food, fiber and fuel are two tandem efforts – not two competing interests. There is, however, still work to be done to ensure farmers and ranchers are equipped to best care for their land while following applicable federal or state requirements.”

Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock: “All of agriculture has been waiting for this ruling on defining Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The Court stated that the wetland under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA) must have 'a continuous surface connection with that water,' making it difficult to determine where the water ends and the wetland begins. The decision finally restores common sense back into WOTUS regulation. Hopefully it lays to rest efforts by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to extend CWA jurisdiction well beyond Congressional intent. When EPA issued their WOTUS rule earlier this year, ARA remarked that the decision was premature with a Supreme Court ruling pending and would likely result in wasted effort. This prediction has now proven true. The Court’s ruling today should provide the legal certainly necessary for ag retailers and their farmer customers. The EPA needs to expeditiously update the WOTUS regulation according to the clear ruling issued by the Supreme Court.”

Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen: “This ruling is a game changer and a monumental victory for irrigated agriculture. No longer will farmers be required to hire an army of consultants just to figure out whether a wet spot on their property is regulated under the Clean Water Act. The significant nexus test, which has been used for most of the past two decades to greatly expand the federal government's jurisdiction over land and waters, is a dead letter. The Biden Administration's WOTUS rule, which is currently stayed in 27 states, will now need to be rewritten to reflect this decision.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute President Marty Durbin: “This decision on Sackett v. EPA is a victory not only for the rule of law, but for people who want to build things in America. Whether you are trying to build a house, a road, or the infrastructure necessary to move energy from one place to another, the tortured definition of “waters of the United States” advanced by the administration threatened to strangle projects with years of red tape. The Supreme Court has provided long overdue relief for companies and landowners across our nation.”

National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag “This sensible ruling preserves protections for our nation’s valuable water resources while providing clarity to farmers and others about the process of determining federal jurisdiction over wetlands. This is a great day for corn growers.”

American Soybean Association President and soy farmer from Illinois Daryl Cates: “SCOTUS’ decision is a clear win for farmers, and the American Soybean Association is pleased the ongoing question at stake—what wetlands are considered WOTUS—will be more clearly answered for our country’s farmers; jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act will be less burdensome to those trying to successfully and responsibly maintain their farm operations; and landowners will be better able to identify a WOTUS without costly expert help, an onerous agency process, and risk of severe penalties for not knowing the jurisdictional status of their own property.”

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)® President Megan J. Provost: “The United States Supreme Court ruling May 25, 2023, in Sackett v. EPA provides much needed clarity for landowners as they work to comply with Clean Water Act regulations. The Court’s decision also provides clarity for the businesses and government entities making vital public health and environmental protection pesticide applications at homes and in communities and ecosystems across our nation.”

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch: “The Fertilizer Institute welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA. The decision, which strikes down the “significant nexus” test in determining what is considered a Waters of the United States, is a win for agriculture. While regulatory interpretation from the EPA will take time, the SCOTUS decision is a great first step in providing the clarity that the fertilizer industry needs for long-term planning and capital investments that will allow us to continue providing the critical nutrients that feed the crops that feed our communities.”

National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) President and CEO Michael Johnson: “Last week’s opinion in Sackett v EPA is a victory for the aggregate industry and is a major step towards a more reasonable definition of WOTUS, which our members have struggled with for years and was exacerbated by the premature and confusing Biden administration rule. With the end of significant nexus, we hope that the agencies heed this decision and work for a truly durable rule. A clearer WOTUS definition is necessary for our industry to provide the materials needed to build and modernize our country’s infrastructure in an environmentally friendly manner.”

National Association of Home Builders Chairman and a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Alabama Alicia Huey: “Today the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Sackett v. EPA that clearly redefines the scope of the Clean Water Act. The decision represents a victory against federal overreach and a win for common-sense regulations and housing affordability. The ruling will likely affect the Biden administration’s new definition of waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) that gave the federal government jurisdictional authority under the Clean Water Act over certain isolated wetlands, ephemeral streams or even human-made drainage features, like roadside ditches. The Biden WOTUS rule does little to strengthen our nation’s water resources but it does radically extend the areas in which home builders are required to get federal wetlands permits. Adding uncertainty and delay to the federal permitting process needlessly raises housing costs at a time when the nation is already facing a housing affordability crisis. With the Supreme Court verdict impacting the worst parts of the Biden WOTUS rule, it’s time for the administration to implement a new durable and practical definition of WOTUS that will truly protect our nation’s water resources without infringing on states’ rights and triggering additional expensive, time-consuming permitting and regulatory requirements.”

National Mining Association President and CEO Rich Nolan: “The Supreme Court today showed there are clear limits to the federal government’s reach when it comes to jurisdiction over water and land features. Working together, the federal government and the states can effectively protect water resources while allowing responsible projects to move forward. The Biden administration must now recognize its own overreach in the introduction of the latest WOTUS rule, which has already been stayed in half the country, and should act immediately to rescind it."

National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Brandon Farris: “The Supreme Court’s decision today will help put us on a path to regulatory certainty for manufacturers across the country as all the justices agreed that the EPA had overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act. Manufacturers are committed to keeping our waters clean and demonstrating environmental stewardship, but Clean Water Act enforcement has been rife with ambiguities and inconsistencies, often allowing the EPA to overreach and attempt to regulate water—and even dry land—that is far beyond the scope of the law. This case demonstrates yet again why manufacturers and our economy need a sensible Waters of the United States proposal that provides clarity and certainty and allows the industry to continue leading the way on environmental protection. The EPA should heed the court’s ruling and revise its latest WOTUS proposal.”

National Association of Wheat Growers CEO Chandler Goule: “NAWG is pleased with the rule the Supreme Court issued today that rejected the confusing and expansive “significant nexus” test that broadened the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The Supreme Court ruling sided with a narrower definition of the Clean Water Act jurisdiction and limited the number of wetlands that would come under the regulation of the Clean Water Act.”

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