Waterkeepers Chesapeake Calls for Action After Supreme Court Abandons Clean Water Act Protections

Waterkeepers Chesapeake’s statement on today’s U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the case of Sackett v. EPA that ruled in favor of the Sacketts and their corporate polluter allies, delivering a major setback to the essential protections afforded by the Clean Water Act (CWA):

“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision is profoundly wrong. It is deeply disappointing that the court has sided with polluters and taken away people’s rights under the Clean Water Act. By embracing the extreme demands of big polluters, the court is placing our communities, public health, and local ecosystems in danger. By giving landowners, developers and polluters permission to bulldoze and fill in wetlands and streams, we will have a dramatic increase in disasters from extreme storms due to climate change. Our communities that are most vulnerable to pollution and climate disasters – indigenous communities, communities of color, rural and low-income communities – will pay the highest price. 

Wetlands are crucial to protecting our communities by providing essential habitats for plants and animals that support our region’s seafood industry and outdoor recreation and tourism sectors. Wetlands act like sponges absorbing storm surge and flood waters containing polluted runoff, and are carbon sinks that are even more effective than forests. 

The unanimous decision causes confusion and undercuts the EPA’s science-based regulations. Four justices in a concurring opinion noted that the majority’s significantly narrowed test for waters of the United States will leave millions of acres of previously protected wetlands vulnerable with “significant repercussions for water quality and flood control throughout the United States.” Our congressional and state officials need to act fast to protect water bodies that we all rely on for drinking, fishing, and fueling local economies, and to do right by our most vulnerable communities.”