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Supreme Court Limits EPA’s Authority – Once Again

  • By Admin
  • June 5, 2023

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) just received its second setback within a year. Last year the Supreme Court limited the EPA’s ability to address climate change under the Clean Air Act and this time they have limited the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act, concerning our wetlands.

In response to their action, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. indicated that the Clean Water Act does not allow the agency to regulate discharges into wetlands near bodies of water unless they have “a continuous surface connection” to those waters.

Environmental experts, opposed to the ruling, say this ruling will leave many wetlands subject to pollution without penalty, sharply undercutting the E.P.A.’s authority to protect them under the Clean Water Act.

Those opposed believe the court has appointed itself as the national decision maker on environmental policy and rendered a narrow decision based on the facts of a case in Northern Idaho – where a small wetland area is not connected to a lake – and applied it throughout the country.

However, those in favor of the ruling said it was another example of the court’s skepticism of the authority of administrative agencies. Jonathan H. Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, said, “The current court is clearly unwilling to defer to an agency about the scope of that agency’s own power.”

Damien Schiff, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the homeowners in this case, praised the Supreme Court’s decision. “Courts now have a clear measuring stick for fairness and consistency by federal regulators,” he said in a statement. “Today’s ruling is a profound win for property rights and the constitutional separation of powers.”

(Photo Credit:Sporcle)

Top – left to right – Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas

Middle – left to right – Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett

Bottom – left to right – Brett M. Kavanaugh, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., John G. Roberts Jr. – Chief Justice