The U.S. Supreme Court today handed a huge win to landowners, including farmers, in a case involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction over Waters of the United States, often referred to as WOTUS.
The National Corn Growers Association applauded the decision.
“This sensible ruling preserves protections for our nation’s valuable water resources while providing clarity to farmers and others about the process of determining federal jurisdiction over wetlands,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “This is a great day for corn growers.”
In the decision, the court narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction by clearly rejecting the vague "significant nexus test," upending the Biden administration’s overreaching WOTUS rule.
A 5-4 majority on the court issued an opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, that significantly narrowed the definition of adjacent wetlands, saying that to be adjacent and therefore a WOTUS, the wetland must have a continuous surface connection to a relatively permanent body of water connected to a traditional navigable water. The four-justice minority disagreed in an opinion, written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying that a continuous surface connection test is too narrow, and overturns decades of precedent followed by both Republican and Democratic administrations.
NCGA, which has long said that EPA’s broad definition of WOTUS creates pervasive uncertainty and confusion for the agricultural community and farmers trying to manage land they own and operate, has spoken out forcefully on the issue and joined other agricultural groups in filing an amicus brief as the Supreme Court considered the case.
EPA is now expected to issue a revised WOTUS rule, since its current rule relies heavily on the significant nexus test.