Posted by on May 25, 2023 9:46 pm
Categories: News The Hill

Supreme Court limits scope of EPA water protections

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The Big Story 

High court curbs Clean Water Act protections for wetlands

The Supreme Court on Thursday narrowed which bodies of water are subject to protections under the Clean Water Act.

© Getty Images

The decision, supported by five of the nation’s conservative justices, said for wetlands to get protections they need to have a “continuous surface connection” with a protected body of water. 


It overturned a lower court ruling that used a different standard, saying that wetlands with a “significant nexus” to protected waters should get protections. 


The opinion also waded into the broader debate about which waters should get protections in the first place, applying them only to those that are “relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing.”


Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the only conservative who did not sign onto this opinion.

“By narrowing the Act’s coverage of wetlands to only adjoining wetlands, the Court’s new test will leave some long-regulated adjacent wetlands no longer covered by the Clean Water Act, with significant repercussions for water quality and flood control throughout the United States,” he wrote. 


The court’s three liberal justices also disagreed with the majority’s interpretation in a separate opinion. 


Read more in a full report at

Welcome to The Hill’s Energy & Environment newsletter, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk — keeping you up to speed on the policies impacting everything from oil and gas to new supply chains.

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Essential Reads 

How policy will affect the energy and environment sectors now and in the future:

Lawmakers appear to be considering a compromise bill to bolster the nation’s power lines as part of efforts to tie energy permitting reforms to legislation that would lift the debt ceiling.  

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, is projected to be “near-normal,” according to a forecast released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Interior Department on Thursday announced the advancement of two new proposed renewable energy transmission projects in Nevada, which are collectively projected togenerate about 8 gigawatts.

In Other News 

Branch out with a different read on The Hill:

Federal heat-safety protections could save tens of thousands of American workers from injury each year, a new report has found. The report that consumer advocacy nonprofit Public Citizen published …

What We’re Reading 

News we’ve flagged from other outlets touching on energy issues, the environment and other topics:

In the Florida Panhandle, a Black community’s plans threatened by a proposed gas plant (The Miami Herald)

Clean Energy Experts Are Stretched Too Thin (Inside Climate News)


Lake Powell bounces back from record-low water levels (KSL)

Major polluter escapes EPA power plant rule (E&E News)

What Others are Reading 

Two key stories on The Hill right now:

House Republicans passed a resolution Wednesday to overturn President Biden’s student debt relief plan that would give up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness to borrowers.  Read more

Democrats erupted in laughter on the House floor Wednesday when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — who was presiding over the chamber — called for decorum. Read more

Opinions in The Hill 

Op-eds related to energy & environment submitted to The Hill:

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