Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized Thursday’s Supreme Court decision that limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate waterways, calling it a “MAGA” court despite the 9-0 decision.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued an opinion that narrows the EPA’s broad definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS).
The court said the federal government needs to define WOTUS as a water source that has a “continuous surface connection” to larger bodies of water.
The ruling rejected attempts by the Biden administration to regulate streams, wetlands, lakes, ponds, and other “relatively permanent” bodies of water that relied on a broad interpretation of the EPA’s Clean Water Act (CWA).
After the court’s ruling was released, Schumer tweeted that the “MAGA Supreme Court is continuing to erode our country’s environmental laws.”
He added that the decision would result in more polluted water and the destruction of wetlands.
The decision came 9-0 in favor of plaintiffs Michael and Chantell Sackett, two Idahoans who were banned from building near the wetland years ago by the EPA.
Justice Samuel Alito detailed in his majority opinion how the EPA had “ordered the Sacketts to restore the site” under the threat of a $40,000 daily fine.
Alito noted that the wetlands on the Sacketts’ property were classified by the EPA as Waters of the United States because it was located near a ditch that fed into a stream that fed into Priest Lake, a navigable intrastate lake.
However, the Sacketts sued, arguing that their property was not “Waters of the United States.”
Despite the unanimous ruling in favor of the Sackett, the court was split 5-4 in its analysis of how the federal government should define a water source under the Clean Air Act (CWA).
Alito explained that “Understanding the CWA to apply to wetlands” that can be distinguished from Waters of the United States would significantly expand the existing statute to “define ‘navigable waters’ as ‘waters of the United States and adjacent wetlands.'”