Press Release

League defends Clean Water Act by submitting an amicus brief to Supreme Court in Sackett v. EPA

09/23/2022

GAITHERSBURG, Md. September 23, 2022 ---- The Izaak Walton League of America has joined other conservation groups in an amicus brief in Sackett v. EPA to highlight the absence of any legal foundation for the case and the devastating impacts it would have on wetland conservation, outdoor recreation and water quality.

The case, the very first to be heard by the Supreme Court in October, has the potential to eviscerate protections for wetlands and degrade water quality nationwide.

If the Court agrees with the petitioners, the Sacketts, wetlands will no longer by protected by the Clean Water Act unless they meet the requirements of a subjective two-part test proposed by the Sacketts. That test would protect wetlands from being drained and filled only if the wetland has a relatively permanent continuous surface water connection to an adjacent water and the adjacent water is a traditionally navigable water or water body related to interstate commerce.

That proposed test is wholly unsupported by the plain language of the law, overwhelming science and common sense. If adopted by the Supreme Court,  the majority of wetlands in the U.S. would lose protection under the Clean Water Act.

The Law

Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, and its purpose, spelled out in its text, is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”  The law also explicitly aims at advancing the “protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife,” and promoting “recreation in and on the water.”

The Science

Wetlands regulate waterflow, filter out pollutants and disperse sediment. Even so-called “isolated” or “non-adjacent” wetlands that lack a continuous surface connection to another body of water can  directly affect the chemical, physical and biological integrity of downstream waters through continuous underground and periodic surface connections.

What’s at Stake?

If adopted, the Sackett test would deny federal protections to the majority of the nation’s wetlands. Areas that would be affected range from the Florida Everglades, which depend on the health of upstream waters, to the Missouri River and the wetlands adjacent to its headwaters in Montana, fed by ephemeral streams.

Since 1922, the Izaak Walton League has fought to protect clean water and wetlands—with many successes. The Clean Water Act is rightfully lauded because it provides essential and consistent protections that have dramatically improved water quality for nearly every American.

Organizations submitting the amicus brief with the Izaak Walton League include the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, National Parks Conservation Association, Trout Unlimited and American Fly Fishing Trade Association. The amicus brief can be viewed at iwla.org/sackett

 

The amicus brief filed by the Izaak Walton League and other conservation groups can be viewed at iwla.org/sackett

    Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League fights for clean air and water, healthy fish and wildlife habitat and conservation of our natural resources for future generations. The League plays a unique role in supporting community-based conservation and volunteer science and has a long legacy of shaping sound national policy. See www.iwla.org.

    Contact:

    Michael Reinemer, Director of Communications, Izaak Walton League of America, mreinemer@iwla.org, 301-548-0105 ext. 220

      • wetlands
      • Sackett v EPA
      • Clean Water Act
      • Supreme Courct