Supreme Court Limits Protection for Wetlands

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On May 25, 2023 the United States Supreme Court released a unanimous decision regarding coverage of the Clean Water Act, reversing a recent decision by lower courts. The opinion limits the Environmental Protection Administration’s ability to regulate wetlands unless they have a continuous connection to “navigable” surface waters, exempting many that have only underground connections and reversing Administration actions from January. Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania have some relevant state laws. West Virginia and Delaware do not.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed has roughly 1.5 million acres of wetlands that trap pollutants and absorb storm surges and increasingly frequent flooding. The Chesapeake Legal Alliance,¬† the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council all have statements objecting to the decision that can be found on their websites. The Court’s decision can be found here

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/21-454_4g15.pdf

EPA’s response can be found here

https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/statement-supreme-court-decision-sackett-v-epa