Brett Kavanaugh broke with his fellow conservative Supreme Court justices and warned their ruling on the EPA could jeopardize water quality and flood control
A Supreme Court ruling on Thursday undermines the EPA’s power to regulate under the Clean Water Act.
All of the conservative justices except Brett Kavanaugh agreed with the majority opinion.
Kavanaugh said the majority ignores precedent and puts water quality in the United States at risk.
The Supreme Court handed down a ruling on Thursday that will limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect wetlands and tackle water pollution, with all but one conservative justice, Brett Kavanaugh, l approving.
The case involved an Idaho couple who wanted to build a home on their property, but the EPA determined the land included protected wetlands under the Clean Water Act, subjecting it to agency oversight. .
All nine justices agreed that the couple’s land should not have been subject to regulation, but four justices – the liberal wing and Kavanaugh – strongly disagreed with part of the majority decision, written by Alito, which could impact what exactly counts as “the protected waters of the United States.”
The majority decision determined that the Clean Water Act does not have the power to regulate wetlands unless they have a “continuous surface connection” to larger bodies of water. This could exclude wetlands, bogs and marshes that are adjacent to a body of water if not exactly connected on the surface and were previously considered protected.
Some groups and environmental experts have estimated that the decision could remove protections from nearly half of all wetlands in the United States.
Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion, signed by the liberal justices, said the ‘new majority test for assessing when wetlands are covered by the Clean Water Act’ is against the law, deviates from decades of agency practice and contradicts precedent set by the Supreme Court. Court itself.
“By reducing the coverage of wetlands by law to only adjacent wetlands, the Court’s new test will leave some long-regulated adjacent wetlands no longer covered by the Clean Water Act, with significant impacts on water quality. water and flood control across the United States,” Kavanaugh said. writing.
In addition to joining Kavanaugh, the liberal justices also signed a concurring opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan, raising concerns that the Supreme Court is overstepping congressional authority on environmental policy. She cited a ruling from last year that limited the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases and address climate change.
In another concurring opinion, Judge Clarence Thomas suggested he would be interested in limiting the EPA’s authority even further, writing that “wetlands are only the beginning of the problems raised by the assertion of jurisdiction agencies in this case”.
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