Supreme Court gives victory to Idaho couple in their WOTUS fight

Environmentalists, Lawmakers Stand Behind EPA on Sackett Case Before Supreme Court


An Idaho couple who went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in a fight against the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers over the Waters of the U.S. rule just came away with a victory—and the right to build their dream home near the shore of a lake.

The justices basically told the two government agencies–they’re all wet.

In Thursday’s unanimous ruling, the court also narrowed the reach of the federal clean water protections that have become known as WOTUS—-a dirty name according to those fighting federal overreach.

Chantell and Michael Sackett had been in a long battle with the government, contending t he Corps and the EPA were wrong to claim oversight of the wetland on their property which is about 300 feet from Idaho’s Priest Lake. With the ruling, E&E News reported it means WOTUS  is now on hold in more than half of the country.

Supreme Court case involving Idaho lake house ignites conservative cause against EPA - The Washington Post

The ruling prompted Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas to declare it a win for Oklahoma’s farmers, ranchers, landowners and all of rural America.

“Beginning with the Obama Administration and resurrected by President Biden, Washington Democrats have attempted to expand the role of the federal government under the Clean Water Act and erode the private property rights of Americans. Today’s unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to define wetlands regulated by the Clean Water Act takes a step towards clarity, regulatory certainty, and allowing landowners to continue to be their own responsible steward of their land,” said Congressman Lucas.

“Now that the Court has ruled in conflict with the Administration’s rule, the Biden Administration must immediately rescind its burdensome proposed rule.”

Sen. James Lankford said the ruling shows the country can protect its water without giving near total control of the land to the Washington bureaucracy.

“Oklahomans want clean, safe water. But President Biden’s tried to use the Waters of the United States rule to control almost every inch of Oklahoma so farmers, ranchers, and developers will have to play ‘Mother, May I?’ for months or years with Washington, DC, before they can operate on their own land.”

“President Biden’s WOTUS rule is an unconstitutional power grab and an attack on American landowners’ private property rights,” said Congressman Josh Brecheen. “This Supreme Court ruling is a huge victory for farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma and across the country who do not need the federal government telling them how to best manage their land.”

In 2015, the Obama Administration’s WOTUS Rule significantly expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” and gave the federal government authority to regulate almost any waters, including streams, ditches, ponds, and creeks.

In 2020, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), finalized by the Trump Administration, revised the definition of WOTUS and reversed this overreach, bringing back a balance between federal and state jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

Following his inauguration on January 20th, 2021, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 13990 which directed federal agencies to review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions promulgated, issued, or adopted between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, including the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

Under the direction of Executive Order 13990, on June 9th, 2021, the EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army announced their intent to revise the definition of WOTUS. Lucas strongly opposed the Biden Administration’s Order.

On December 30, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final rule to again redefine WOTUS per the Clean Water Act.

On March 9, 2023, the U.S. House passed  H.J. Res. 27, a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) on the Biden Administration’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. On March 29th, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the resolution overturning the Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule by a vote of 53-43.

On April 6, 2023, President Biden vetoed the CRA resolution.