June 17, 2022

DeFazio, Carper, Colleagues File Amicus Brief Ahead of Supreme Court Case Aiming to Weaken Clean Water Protections

WASHINGTON, D.C– Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Tom Carper (D-DE) submitted an amicus brief alongside 165 current and former Members of Congress to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In the amicus brief, the lawmakers assert that the Court, which will start its October 2022 term with this challenge from conservative property owners aiming to narrow the waters protected by the Clean Water Act, must maintain its interpretation of the nation’s most successful environmental law following the statute that Congress overwhelmingly approved in 1972. 

“Huge progress has been made in protecting this nation’s waters but polluting and filling still threaten to destroy wetlands and other waters that provide valuable services to fisheries, wildlife, recreation, health, and drinking water.  The resolution of this matter could have a profound impact on whether this progress is sustained. This brief highlights the express choices Congress made in the Act regarding what waters are protected, the roles Congress assigned, and the Act’s explicit criteria,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers “...urge this Court to respect the policies in the statute Congress enacted and jurisdictional boundaries that have governed, regardless of party affiliation in the White House or control of Congress, for almost fifty years."

The Supreme Court decision could eliminate decades-old protections over rivers, streams, and wetlands, disrupting the ecology of the nation’s watersheds, leaving communities more vulnerable to flooding, reducing the availability of clean drinking water, and imposing greater costs on states, municipalities, businesses, and American families. Even worse, this potential narrowing of clean water protections would judicially redefine federal law that has been implemented by every administration since the Nixon administration, without further public input or transparency and in opposition to decades of prior judicial decisions. Oral arguments on the Sackett case are scheduled for October 3, 2022. 

Read the lawmakers’ full amicus brief HERE