Waters of the US: Legislators seek to undo Sackett decision

Clean Water Act of 2023 press conference
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October 19, 2023 — The House Democrats announced yesterday that Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rick Larsen (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) and 114 House Democrats introduced the Clean Water Act of 2023.

According to the press releaseOpens in a new tab., “The legislation undoes the damage from the Supreme Court’s Sackett decision by reinstating the historic and bipartisan, federal-state partnership that has protected our rivers, streams, and wetlands for over 50 years; by establishing a clear, level playing field for businesses and industries to thrive while protecting critical natural resources; and ensuring clean water for families and communities.”

The Sackett decision was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in May this year (link to decision and background), drawing praise from rural and farming interests.  In late August, the EPA announced that it was amending its rules to comply with the Court’s order.

Ranking Member Larsen saidOpens in a new tab., “The Clean Water Act of 2023 restores historic, bipartisan protections to the estimated 50% of wetlands and 70% of streams lost through the misguided Sackett decision.

Jon Devine, director of federal water policy for the Natural Resources Defense CouncilOpens in a new tab. remarked, “All of us benefit from healthy wetlands, streams, and other water bodies – whether it’s for drinking, fishing or enjoying recreation. With climate change intensifying flooding and accelerating biodiversity loss, wetlands are critical to protect people and preserve wildlife. Keeping these waters intact and unpolluted is just basic common sense.”

A statement by Environment AmericaOpens in a new tab. states that The Senate Environment and Public Works Commitee also held a hearing on the Court’s ruling yesterday morning.

Image: Screenshot from House Transportation and Infrastructure CommitteeOpens in a new tab. press conference.




Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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