DON'T WAIT.

We publish the objective news, period. If you want the facts, then sign up below and join our movement for objective news:

TOP STORIES

Latest News

Biden administration backs down after Supreme Court ruling on water regulations

 August 30, 2023

Following a major U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in May, the Biden administration released updated environmental regulations on Tuesday, concerning various bodies of water across the nation, Fox News reported.

New WOTUS Guidelines Introduced

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently collaborated to introduce new guidelines under the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) framework.

Both agencies emphasized their dedication to upholding the law and implementing the Clean Water Act, primarily focusing on shielding American water sources from pollution.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan expressed his dismay over the Supreme Court's ruling in the Sackett case but acknowledged the mandate to comply with it.

He stated, "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. EPA will never waver from our responsibility to ensure clean water for all."

Backdrop of the Original WOTUS Regulation

On May 25, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the EPA's initially approved WOTUS regulations. The panel opined that the Biden administration's definition of waters was overly expansive. The justices mandated that the WOTUS definition should solely pertain to water sources directly linked to primary water bodies.

This ruling was celebrated by landowners, industry representatives, and Republican officials. The contested regulation, due for implementation in March, essentially granted the federal government authority over wetlands and other water bodies.

It echoed the pre-2015 rule from the Obama era, aiming to mitigate water pollution. This rule had been the most comprehensive interpretation of which water sources come under the Clean Water Act's protection.

However, its extensive nature sparked backlash. Various industry groups, GOP Congress members, and numerous states viewed this as an example of unwarranted federal intervention. Due to these concerns, its execution was halted by a federal judge. Both the House and Senate voted against the regulation.

The EPA's WOTUS regulation was introduced concurrently with the Sackett v. EPA case review at the Supreme Court.

The case revolved around the Sacketts, Idaho residents whom the EPA restricted from commencing construction near a wetland under the Clean Water Act. Following the Court's decision in favor of the Sacketts, a revision of the regulations became inevitable.

Continued Concerns and Responses to the Revised Regulation

Despite the recent changes, criticisms persist that the EPA's modifications don't sufficiently adhere to the Supreme Court's guidelines.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), a leading figure on the Environment and Public Works Committee, remarked, "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."

She expressed her discontent regarding the lack of public involvement and transparency in the new rule formulation. She believes it's still incompatible with the law and foresees another court rejection.

The Waters Advocacy Coalition, representing a spectrum from small businesses to manufacturers, also aligned with Sen. Capito's concerns.

Chair Courtney Briggs conveyed, "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."

Briggs criticized the agencies for limiting public participation during the amendment process and concluded, "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."