Farmers and property owners received a major win May 25 when the Supreme Court significantly reduced the scope of the Clean Water Act in the Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) case.
All nine justices agreed EPA’s “significant nexus” test — the agency’s tool to assert more authority over private land — was an overreach.
The Alabama Farmers Federation and farm groups across the country have sought clear, concise water regulation for years. Rules set in 2015 and 2023 created vague boundaries allowing federal regulation over vast areas of land as “water.”
“With this ruling, the Supreme Court has vindicated what we and other groups have said for years — the Corps and EPA had clearly overstepped the authorities granted by Congress,” said the Federation’s Mitt Walker, who manages national affairs for the state’s largest farm organization. “The court has effectively nullified the 2023 WOTUS rule and ensured future rules are consistent with the intent of the Clean Water Act.”
The 2023 rule officially remains on the books but is not enforceable by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) litigation in Texas and North Dakota challenging the Clean Water Act will likely toss the rule, causing the Biden Administration to propose new, scaled-back regulations.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall welcomed the late-May decision.
“The justices respect private property rights,” said Duvall, a Georgia farmer. “It’s now time for the Biden Administration to do the same and rewrite the Waters of the United States Rule. Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources they’re entrusted with, but they deserve a rule that provides clarity and doesn’t require a team of attorneys to properly care for their land.”