Supreme Court WOTUS Decision a Step in the Right Direction for Oklahoma Agriculture

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in favor of landowner rights in their Sackett v. EPA ruling over the scope of the EPA’s regulatory authority regarding what waters constitute a Waters of the United States.

“Oklahoma Farm Bureau members are encouraged that today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the need to consider landowners when the federal government makes rules regarding water use,” said Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Rodd Moesel. “We are pleased the ruling places limits on the EPA’s administrative reach regarding Waters of the U.S., which we hope will ensure more reasonable and realistic rules and actions by the agency in the future.”

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation joined with 20 other state Farm Bureaus to file an amicus curiae – or “friend of the court” – brief in the Sackett v. EPA case review. The court’s majority decision referenced the brief, recognizing the ability of states to regulate water within their boundaries.

Opponents of federal government overreach argued the over-regulation stems from “the absence of a clear and definitive test” to determine what constitutes a WOTUS. The court ruled in favor of the Sacketts, stating the Clean Water Act does not allow the agency to regulate wetlands that are isolated from other bodies of water, protecting the private property rights of landowners.

“Farmers and ranchers are the original stewards of the land, and they have a generations-long commitment to the responsible use of our natural resources, including water,” Moesel said. “Oklahoma agriculture producers need to be regarded as trusted partners in ensuring environmental quality, and we hope today’s ruling is the first step to creating a national framework that will consider our industry’s commitment to responsible water use and water quality to empower our farmers and ranchers to continue raising food, fiber and fuel.”

This ruling does away with the “significant nexus” test, which agriculture groups argued was a confusing and burdensome method to determine what constitutes a WOTUS.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also commented on the decision:

“AFBF appreciates the Supreme Court justices for their careful consideration of the implications of Sackett v. EPA. The EPA clearly overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act by restricting private property owners from developing their land despite being far from the nearest navigable water.

“The justices respect private property rights. It’s now time for the Biden administration to do the same and rewrite the Waters of the United States Rule. Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources they’re entrusted with, but they deserve a rule that provides clarity and doesn’t require a team of attorneys to properly care for their land.”

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