Since it’s implementation the Clean Water Act has developed a reputation as being ambiguous and arbitrarily implemented, and has plagued property owners and agriculture producers across the U.S. The EPA is now attempting to expand the scope of that Act through the controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which would place all bodies of waters—including puddles and stock ponds—under federal regulatory jurisdiction.
But a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has added a degree of clarity to the Clean Water Act, and more importantly an opinion by Justice Kennedy in the case signals good news on a multi-state challenge to the WOTUS rule.
One June 1st, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously to allow landowners the ability to challenge in Court the EPA’s Clean Water Act “jurisdictional determinations,” which are used by landowners to determine if their project falls under Clean Water Act jurisdiction before going through costly permitting. The government contended that jurisdictional determinations did not constitute final agency action, and therefore landowners should not be able to sue for relief in Court. The Court unanimously ruled against the EPA in the case, enabled landowners like Andy Johnson to successfully challenge the EPA.