Trump Rolled Back Decades Of Clean Water Protections. The Supreme Court Just Went Even Further.

by | May 26, 2023 | Politics

Nearly two decades ago, a Michigan man named John Rapanos tried to fill in three wetlands on his property to make way for a shopping center. State regulators warned him that doing so was illegal without federal Clean Water Act permits. Rapanos argued that you couldn’t navigate a boat from his wetlands to a federal waterway, so the Environmental Protection Agency had no jurisdiction on his land. When Rapanos ignored the EPA’s cease-and-desist letters, the government successfully brought a civil lawsuit against him, which he then vowed to “fight to the death.” Instead, he made it all the way to the nation’s highest court. In a split decision in 2006, the Supreme Court overturned the judgment against Rapanos, but did not reach a majority ruling on whether wetlands that flowed into federally regulated “waters of the United States” qualified for the same protections. AdvertisementIn 2016, President Barack Obama sought to answer that question with a new EPA rule extending the Clean Water Act of 1972 to include millions of acres of marshes, bogs and lagoons whose water — and any pollution added to it — channel into already federally regulated waterways. Republicans chided the move as a federal land grab, while environmentalists cheered what they saw as a reasonable interpretation of the decadesold law through the lens of the latest science shows about hydrology and the increasing threat of extreme droughts and toxic algae blooms. In 2020, President Donald Trump rolled back much of the rule’s protections, slashing the total protected area of wetlands roughly in half. In 2022, President Joe Biden moved to restore the Obama-era rule. On Thursday, the Supreme Court’s new right-wing supermajority revisited the 2006 decision to strike down federal protections for virtually all the wetlands Trump deregulated — and then some, eliminating even the few safeguards the Republican administration tried to preserve.AdvertisementAn environmental advocate holds up a sign during a rally outside the Supreme Court in October. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Protect our Waters)Paul Morigi via Getty ImagesThe 5-4 decision — written by Justice Samuel Alito, and joined by Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett — revoked the Clean Water Act’s authority over at least 59 million acres of wetlands across the U.S., according to an estimate by the environmental group Earthjustice. “You’re goin …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This