Today, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over wetlands in a decision that will have a broad impact on mining. With a unanimous decision in Sackett v. EPA, the court ruled the agency does not have the power to regulate discharges into wetlands unless they are connected to navigable waters.
The ruling was a victory for the Sackett family, who wanted to build on their land near Priest Lake in Idaho. The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers determined their land was a wetland and they were told they would need a federal permit to build on their land.
The decision will more narrowly define what constitutes a wetland for the EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA), which prohibits the discharge of pollutants, including rocks and sand, into navigable waters. The EPA has maintained a broad interpretation of the CWA to include all waters of the U.S. (WOTUS).
“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,” said Rich Nolan, President and CEO of the National Mining Association. “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.”