The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously delivered another blow to federal overreach when it ruled against the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule on Thursday morning. Specifically, the court found that “waters” in this instance refers to “geo-graphic[al] features that are described in ordinary parlance as ‘streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes’” and to adjacent wetlands that are “indistinguishable” from those bodies of water due to a continuous surface connection.” The Court further emphasized with regard to adjacent wetlands that the connection must be so apparent that it is “difficult to determine where the ‘water’ ends and the ‘wetland’ begins.”

This decision is a major victory in two important respects. 

First, the couple at the heart of this legal battle, Michael and Chantell Sackett, can finally start building the house they attempted to over 16 years ago in Priest Lake, Idaho. Recall that the U.S. EPA stopped construction after the Sacketts backfilled a portion of their property in order to build the foundation of their family home. Soon after, the U.S. EPA showed up informing the Sacketts they had violated the Clean Water Act because their property contained a “water of the U.S.” and since they did not get a permit approval by the U.S. EPA to backfill the property, they were subject to violations of $40,000 a day. 

Second, this is a major victory for curbing the reach of the federal government, especially the U.S. EPA.  The Clean Water Act, like many of our environmental statutes, is an important law. Its original purpose was to prevent discharges of pollutants in our nation’s waters. However, in recent years this law has been corrupted by extremists and used as a land-use tool whereby federal bureaucrats tell property owners how they can, or can’t, use their land. It became even more problematic with the unclear and arbitrary standards the U.S. EPA established and were used to inhibit all sorts of development.

The Supreme Court’s decision not only overrules the Obama-era rule but also delivers a check on Team Biden as they attempt to reinstitute an extreme agenda of which they do not have requisite legal authority. 

To learn more about the history of WOTUS and the Sacketts case, click here