WASHINGTON — Environmental and community organizations across the country urged the U.S. Supreme Court today to uphold the longstanding reach of the Clean Water Act and reject industry’s attempts to eliminate federal protections. clean water that have protected families, communities, rivers and lakes from pollution for decades. The Natural Resources Defense Council joined the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents 113 environmental and community organizations, in filing the brief in support of the Environmental Protection Agency in the case, Sackett v EPA.
“Our families and communities rely on the Clean Water Act to protect our waterways and wetlands which control flooding, filter pollution and provide clean drinking water,” said Kelly Moser, senior attorney and head of the Clean Water Defense Initiative at Southern Environmental. Law Center, which represents 113 environmental and community groups in today’s filing. “A bipartisan Congress put these federal clean water protections in place, and decades of Supreme Court rulings confirm their broad reach. Polluters are now seeking to undo decades of progress — under administrations on both sides — to allow millions of miles of waterways and millions of acres of wetlands to be polluted and paved over.
“Anyone who depends on clean water – that means all of us – should be appalled by the brazen attempt by polluters to rewrite history and eviscerate the Clean Water Act,” said Jon Devine. , Director of Federal Water Policy at the NRDC. “The Clean Water Act protections for small streams and wetlands benefit communities across the country by stopping flooding, preventing pollution of places where our families go fishing and swimming, and providing water. drinking water to millions of people.”
Drinking water opponents in the case are asking the Supreme Court to gut the Clean Water Act by excluding critical waterways and wetlands, allowing them to be filled and subject to industrial pollution. This result would decimate the quality of the rivers and lakes downstream that Americans depend on for drinking water, fishing, swimming, and livelihoods. Wetlands help protect our communities from increasingly intense storms and floods, act as natural pollution filters that improve our water quality, and protect wildlife, including fish and shellfish for our fisheries.
Congress enacted the Clean Water Act fifty years ago with one goal: to restore and maintain the integrity of our nation’s waters. Congress rejected previous failed approaches that left water pollution largely to a patchwork of ineffective state laws, and instead took a comprehensive approach with consistent minimum standards to protect waterways nationwide.
As pointed out in the brief, more than 45 million acres of wetlands would be excluded from Clean Water Act protections if the Supreme Court adopted the challengers’ arguments. Among the waters that would lose their protection are hundreds of acres of wetlands at the gates of the Okefenokee Swamp. This invaluable National Wildlife Refuge and the St. Marys Rivers downstream depend on wetlands to filter pollution and store floodwaters, but the Sackett petitioners would remove federal wetland clean water protections, allowing them to to be destroyed and turned into landfills for a project to strip mine.
About the Southern Environmental Law Center
The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the strongest environmental advocates in the country, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect the air, water, climate, wildlife, land, and people of our region. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has 170 employees, including 90 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington. , DC southenvironment.org
About the NRDC
The NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international non-profit environmental organization with over 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health and the environment. The NRDC has offices in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.