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Grassley, Colleagues File Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court to Adopt Limited WOTUS Rule

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and senior member of the Agriculture Committee, joined Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and 45 additional senators on an amicus brief in support of the petitioners in the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency. The decision in this case will clarify what waterways are considered “waters of the United States (WOTUS),” which will determine the scope of the federal government’s authority in regulating private citizens and businesses under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Specifically, the brief argues that the Supreme Court should adopt a longstanding, limited-scope definition of WOTUS proposed by Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 case.

“Like the members of Congress that enacted the CWA, [we] support policies that protect the environment while also ensuring that States retain their traditional role as the primary regulators of land and water resources, and that farmers, manufacturers, small business owners, and property owners like the Petitioners in this case can develop and use their land free of over-burdensome, job-killing federal regulations. These entities need certainty about the scope of ‘waters of the United States’ under the Clean Water Act, and the Court’s endorsement of the Scalia test would provide that long-needed certainty,” the members write.

“In the CWA, Congress selected language that, from practically the Founding, was understood both to exercise limited jurisdiction and to preserve the States’ traditional role as the principal regulators of local waters and lands. But this intent has now been turned on its head. Through the ‘significant nexus’ test, the EPA and Corps can instead use any ecological connection between land and nearby water as a pretext for intrusive central planning. This case presents an opportunity for the Court to finally put the genie back in the bottle and endorse the functionally equivalent test proposed by Justice Scalia. Only then will Congress’s dual purposes of cooperative federalism and environmental protection in the CWA be fully vindicated,” the brief continues.

 Grassley has long been an outspoken critic of the Obama-Biden WOTUS overreach, which has slapped burdensome regulations on Iowa farmers and landowners. He helped introduce the Navigable Waters Protection Act of 2021 to codify a more workable definition put in place by the Trump administration, and he recently urged the Biden administration to halt pending WOTUS rulemaking until the Supreme Court rules on the Sackett case.

Read the full text of the amicus brief by clicking HERE.


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