Press Release | October 3, 2022

Clean water, communities’ safety at stake in Supreme Court on Oct. 3, Southern Environmental Law Center says

Southern Environmental Law Center filed amicus brief on behalf of 113 environmental and community groups in Sackett v. EPA

WASHINGTON — The Southern Environmental Law Center said that America’s clean water and the safety of our communities are at stake in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, a case scheduled for oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 3.

SELC filed a friend of the court brief representing 113 environmental and community organizations that urged the Court to uphold the longstanding scope of the Clean Water Act and reject industry-backed attempts to eliminate federal clean water protections that have safeguarded families, communities, and drinking water sources for decades. The brief filed by SELC along with the Natural Resources Defense Council supports strong clean water protections and the Environmental Protection Agency in the case.

“This case jeopardizes clean water for families across America and threatens wetlands that protect our communities from flooding,” said DJ Gerken, Executive Director and President of SELC, which represents 113 environmental and community groups before the U.S. Supreme Court. “The extreme outcome sought by the coalition of polluters backing this case would strip protections from millions of miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands, reversing decades of bipartisan practice protecting clean water.”

The opponents of clean water in the case are asking the Supreme Court to gut the Clean Water Act by excluding critical streams and wetlands, allowing them to be destroyed and subjected to industrial pollution. This outcome would decimate the quality of downstream rivers and lakes that families and communities depend on for drinking water, fishing, swimming, and their livelihoods. Wetlands help protect communities from increasingly intense storms and floods, act as natural pollution filters that improve our water quality, and safeguard wildlife including fish and shellfish for our fisheries.

Tribes; small and large businesses including craft brewers, farmers, and outdoor outfitters;  

scientistsstate water managersmembers of Congress; and former EPA administrators from both parties are among the groups who filed friend of the court briefs in the Supreme Court to support strong federal protections under the Clean Water Act.  

Congress enacted the Clean Water Act 50 years ago with a single objective: to restore and maintain the integrity of our nation’s waters. Congress rejected earlier failed approaches that largely left water pollution to a patchwork of ineffective state laws and instead adopted a comprehensive approach with consistent minimum standards to protect waterways throughout the country.

As highlighted in the brief submitted on behalf of 113 environmental and community organizations, over 45 million acres of wetlands would be excluded from the Clean Water Act’s protections if the Supreme Court adopted the challengers’ arguments. 

Press Contacts

Kathleen Sullivan

Senior Communications Manager (NC)

Phone: 919-945-7106
Email: ksullivan@selcnc.org