Over one hundred environmental and community groups urge U.S. Supreme Court to uphold federal clean water protections

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

WASHINGTON—Environmental and community organizations from across the nation Friday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the longstanding scope of the Clean Water Act and reject industry attempts to eliminate federal clean water protections that have kept families, communities, and rivers and lakes safe from pollution for decades. Environment America and several of its state affiliates are among the 113 groups signed onto the brief filed by Natural Resources Defense Council and the Southern Environmental Law Center, in support of the Environmental Protection Agency in the case, Sackett v. EPA.

“Clean water is vital to all Americans — from the waterways where we fish and swim to the sources of our drinking water,” said John Rumpler, Senior Clean Water Program Director for Environment America. “But if the Court heeds extremist calls to strip away protections of the Clean Water Act, many of our waterways could once again become polluters’ playgrounds, putting both nature and the drinking water of millions of Americans at risk.”

“Our families and communities rely on the Clean Water Act to safeguard our waterways and wetlands that control flooding, filter out pollution, and provide safe drinking water,” said Kelly Moser, senior attorney and leader of the Clean Water Defense Initiative at the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents 113 environmental and community groups in Friday’s filing. “A bipartisan Congress put these federal clean water protections in place, and decades of Supreme Court decisions confirm their broad scope. Polluters are now seeking to undo decades of progress—under administrations of both parties—to allow millions of miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands to be polluted and paved over.”

“Anyone who depends on clean water – meaning all of us – should be appalled at the polluters’ brazen attempt to rewrite history and eviscerate the Clean Water Act,” said Jon Devine, director of federal water policy at NRDC. “The Clean Water Act’s protections for small streams and wetlands benefit communities across the country by curbing flooding, preventing pollution of places our families go fishing and swimming, and supplying drinking water for millions of people.” 

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 filled in and subjected to industrial pollution. This outcome would decimate the quality of downstream rivers and lakes that Americans depend on for drinking water, fishing, swimming, and their 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.