SCOTUS WOTUS Arguments Reaction

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is calling for a pause in the EPA rewriting of Trump-era WOTUS reforms until the Supreme Court settles the confusion over the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate water bodies under the Clean Water Act.

“Regulatory whiplash” is how National Cattlemen describe the shifting WOTUS definitions over the years, as the Supreme Court this week again tried to make sense of the Clean Water Act. And until the High Court decides on a proper test for which waters are “Waters of the US,” Cattlemen CEO Colin Woodall is calling for a pause in EPA WOTUS rulemaking

Woodall said; “After all the work we did to fight back against the 2015 rule, here we have the Biden Administration coming out and trying once again to bring WOTUS back.”

At the Supreme Court, the test for EPA jurisdiction over an Idaho home lot near a lake was still unclear. This exchange between government lawyer Brian Fletcher and Chief Justice John Roberts. “So, somebody looking around the lot would have to look at the wetlands, if they could see them, and the lake and say, ‘is that reasonable proximity, or not?’” Fletcher “Yes, that’s right, that is the standard.” Roberts “That’s a standard that’s used in criminal prosecutions, as well.”

With the wry hint that the government could prosecute a landowner if they got it wrong. Longtime Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley calls for a traditional standard that covers only wetlands connected to navigable waters, not features like a usually dry creek. Grassley; “Ridiculous. So, the best thing to do is to go with the historic definition of a navigable river. That’s where the federal jurisdiction ends, and that’s where the state jurisdiction takes over.”

An argument akin to that of the plaintiffs in the long-running Sacketts vs. the U.S. EPA – “nearby versus directly connected” – and a case Grassley and NCBA say the Supreme Court must finally resolve for the sake of homeowners, farmers, and others.