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SEEC Decries Supreme Court’s Decision to Eliminate Clean Water Protections

The leaders of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC), including Co-Chairs Reps. Doris Matsui, Mike Quigley, and Paul Tonko, Vice Chairs Reps. Don Beyer, Matt Cartwright, Sean Casten, Chellie Pingree, and Katie Porter, and Chair Emeritus Rep. Gerry Connolly, released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA, which dramatically curtailed the scope of what waters qualify for protections under the Clean Water Act.

“The Supreme Court today continued its troubling trend of finding that it knows better than Congress or agency experts on what U.S. environmental policy should be. What began in last year’s assault on the Clean Air Act in West Virginia v. EPA has now expanded to the Clean Water Act in Sackett v. EPA. Once again, we find ourselves quoting Justice Kagan’s dissenting views, where she says ‘The Court will not allow the Clean [Water] Act to work as Congress instructed. The Court, rather than Congress, will decide how much regulation is too much.’

“In limiting the coverage only to wetlands that have a ‘continuous surface connection’ to bodies of water, the Court has aligned itself with the Trump Administration’s Dirty Water Rule, which was projected to result in 50 percent of wetlands losing federal protection. This means that pollution discharge limits may no longer apply, which will put the drinking water of millions of Americans at risk of pollution.

“While we would have thought it was universally agreed that clean water is a necessity rather than a privilege, apparently this Court disagrees. This Court has demonstrated that no aspect of federal environmental and climate law is safe from its radical agenda. On behalf of the 92 members of SEEC, we commit ourselves to fighting these rollbacks of vital environmental protections and urge our colleagues in both parties and chambers in Congress to join us.”