BAKERSFIELD, California — A recent Supreme Court ruling on a lawsuit made by an Idaho couple brought changes the Environmental Protection Agency made to the definition of Waters of the United States to a stop.
Earlier this year, the EPA revised the definition of WOTUS under the Clean Water Act, which would have expanded their ability to regulate wetlands and other bodies of water.
The EPA says these regulations are a necessity in order to prevent these bodies of water from becoming polluted or filled with chemicals.
Their revision has faced a lot of pushback, not only from farmers but from 24 states that filed a lawsuit against it but the recent Supreme Court ruling is not the result of this opposition.
The Supreme Court's decision is actually based on a lawsuit the Idaho couple, known as the Sackler's filed. In this lawsuit, it states the couple is suing the EPA after it interrupted their plans to build a home near a lake after officials identified a section of their property as wetlands.
The lawsuit states officials with the EPA said these wetlands fell under the Clean Water Act and needed to be protected from pollution. In order for the couple to continue their construction efforts, they were required to take out a permit before working on their own land.
Although the Sackler's motive for the lawsuit is for an entirely different reason, it all boils down to the same complaint farmers Eyewitness News previously spoke to expressed.
In May, almond farmer Jenny Holtermann expressed some concerns about the changes the EPA made to WOTUS that went into effect in March. Holtermann's concerns aligned with what the Idaho couple expressed in the lawsuit they filed against the EPA.
The Sackler's and Holtermann both say the EPA's definition of what a wetland is is too broad and needs to be narrowed down. This lawsuit was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court and they ruled in favor of the couple, citing the definition as being too broad.
This ruling is also facing pushback from environmental organizations and state senators. In a statement, California Senator Alex Padilla expressed his disapproval of the ruling.
He said the Majority's opinion will reverse a long history of federal protection and put waters at risk.
Today’s Supreme Court ruling substantially erodes the EPA’s ability to address water pollution in the United States, including through the protection of the nation’s remaining wetlands. Unfortunately, this follows a recent pattern of reckless decisions from the Court that fail to protect our air, water, and lands. Clean water must be our collective priority—which was Congress’ original intent of the Clean Water Act, for the EPA to protect our waterways.