Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Sackett v. EPA on May 25, 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency has revised its 2023 “waters of the United States” definition to align with the court’s decision. This revision is intended to enhance clarity and facilitate the EPA’s pursuit of its objectives, ensuring compliance with the court’s ruling.
In an effort to address the uncertainty arising from the earlier ruling this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is recommencing the issuance of all jurisdictional determinations. Furthermore, both the EPA and the Corps will collaborate with state, Tribal, and local partners to ensure the protection of waters in accordance with the decision made in May.
“While I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Sackett case, EPA and Army have an obligation to apply this decision alongside our state co-regulators, Tribes, and partners,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, in a news release. “We’ve moved quickly to finalize amendments to the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ to provide a clear path forward that adheres to the Supreme Court’s ruling. EPA will never waver from our responsibility to ensure clean water for all. Moving forward, we will do everything we can with our existing authorities and resources to help communities, states, and Tribes protect the clean water upon which we all depend.”
The decision rendered in May established that waters lacking continuous connectivity to perennial streams and permanent lakes will no longer receive specific federal protections. The responsibility for safeguarding such waters will now rest with individual states.