Farmers Cheer SCOTUS WOTUS Decision Returning Property Rights to Landowners from Biden’s Clutches

Craig Bannister | May 26, 2023
Text Audio
00:00 00:00
Font Size

The nation’s farmers are cheering Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that American citizens, not the Biden Administration, have the right to manage the water on their property.

In 2014, the Obama Administration concocted and issued the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, greatly expanding the federal government’s claim to control of water in the U.S. - including on private property - under the guise of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiative. The rule was repealed by President Donald Trump, but reinstated last year by President Joe Biden.

In Thursday’s Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency decision, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that the EPA can’t prohibit Idaho residents Michael and Chantell Sackett from building a home on their property near a wetland.

In a 5-4 decision, the court restricted the federal government’s domain via the Clean Water Act to waters that “have a ‘continuous surface connection’ to waters of the United States—that is, when the wetlands are ‘adjoining’ covered waters.”

“The EPA clearly overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act by restricting private property owners from developing their land despite being far from the nearest navigable water,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

Prior to Thursday’s ruling, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s (OFB) Legal Foundation joined with 20 other state Farm Bureaus to file an amicus curiae brief in the Sackett v. EPA case review.

“We are pleased the ruling places limits on the EPA’s administrative reach regarding Waters of the U.S., which we hope will ensure more reasonable and realistic rules and actions by the agency in the future,” OFB President Rodd Moesel said Thursday, following the Supreme Court’s decision.

“This ruling is a hard-fought victory for farmers in Michigan and across the nation,” Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski said, praising the decision.

“The justices agreed with what farmers have been saying for years: puddles shouldn't be considered Waters of the United States,” MFB’s Laura Campbell added.

Praise of the Supreme Court decision wasn’t limited to the farm industry.

The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute called the ruling “a victory not only for the rule of law, but for people who want to build things in America”:

“Whether you are trying to build a house, a road, or the infrastructure necessary to move energy from one place to another, the tortured definition of ‘waters of the United States’ advanced by the administration threatened to strangle projects with years of red tape.

“The Supreme Court has provided long overdue relief for companies and landowners across our nation.”

Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) issued the following statement:

"Today's unanimous ruling in Sackett v EPA is a victory for America's farmers, ranchers, and land owners. The decision reaffirms the rights of property owners and provides long-needed clarity to rural America. In light of this decision, the Biden Administration should withdraw its flawed final WOTUS rule.

"It is time to finally put an end to the regulatory whiplash and create a workable rule that promotes clean water while protecting the rights of rural Americans."

“[T]he Supreme Court took a critical step toward eliminating the costly regulatory uncertainty that has plagued construction projects around the country for decades without providing meaningful environmental protections for America’s waterways,” Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) said in a statement.

ABC’s statement calls on the Biden Administration to “refrain from regulatory overreach that harms taxpayers and job creators”