Supreme Court ruling in Sackett case a win for farmers and ranchers

Many in the ag industry are calling Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA a huge win for landowners and America’s farmers and ranchers. In its ruling, the court decided the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers wrongfully claimed oversight of the wetland on the Sackett’s property. 

Mary Thomas Hart is the chief counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  “Today feels like a massive exhale not only at NCBA, but I think the agricultural industry more broadly,” she says. 

She tells Brownfield the ag industry has been pushing back on the regulatory overreach since the finalization of the 2015 Waters of the US rule.  “And not pushing for these features to be subject to less oversight or less jurisdiction,” she says.  “But really pushing to draw an appropriate line between federal and state control.

So, what could this mean for the Biden administration’s Waters of the United States rule, which is under injunction in at least 26 states, moving forward?  Hart says, “This rule is heavily focused on adjacency, so specifically related to adjacent wetlands. I think certainly that part of the Biden rule is going to be directly implicated by this opinion.” 

In a statement, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said he’s disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it “erodes longstanding clean water protections”.  He says the administration worked to establish a durable definition of a “waters of the United States” that safeguards the nation’s waters, strengthens economic opportunity, and protects people’s health while providing clarity and certainty that farmers, ranchers, and landowners deserve. 

American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall says the EPA clearly overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act.  He says the justices respect private property rights.  “It’s now time for the Biden administration to do the same and rewrite its WOTUS rule,” Duvall says.  “Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources they’re entrusted with, but they deserve a rule that provides clarity and doesn’t require a team of attorneys to properly care for their land.”

U.S. Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson, chair of the House Ag Committee, says this decision reaffirms the rights of property owners and provides clarity to rural America.  He says the Biden Administration should withdraw its flawed final WOTUS rule and create a workable rule that promotes clean water while protecting the rights of rural Americans.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says the Court’s opinion stripped out key protections from the Clean Water Act, weakening the law and narrowing its ability to defend the quality of the nation’s waterways.

AUDIO: Mary Thomas Hart, chief counsel, NCBA

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