Supreme Court WOTUS Decision Announced
[Centennial, CO — May 30, 2023] Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed a huge win to landowners, including farmers, in a case involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction over Waters of the United States, often referred to as WOTUS.
In the decision, the court narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction by clearly rejecting the vague “significant nexus test,” upending the Biden administration’s overreaching WOTUS rule.
A 5-4 majority on the court issued an opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, that significantly narrowed the definition of adjacent wetlands, saying that to be adjacent and therefore a WOTUS, the wetland must have a continuous surface connection to a relatively permanent body of water connected to a traditional navigable water. The four-justice minority disagreed in an opinion, written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying that a continuous surface connection test is too narrow, and overturns decades of precedent followed by both Republican and Democratic administrations.
EPA is now expected to issue a revised WOTUS rule, since its current rule relies heavily on the significant nexus test.