Cattle Producers Rejoice in Supreme Court Ruling on WOTUS Case

| May 25, 2023

Unanimous Decision in Sackett v. EPA Narrows Scope and Regulatory Burden of the Clean Water Act

WASHINGTON (May 25, 2023) – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Sackett family in Sackett v. EPA – the court’s most recent consideration of which features are subject to federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. In its holding, the court soundly rejected the contentious “significant nexus” test. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) strongly supports this ruling and is currently engaged in a litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the Biden Administration’s WOTUS definition. 

"Cattle producers across the country can breathe a sigh of relief today. Since EPA’s adoption of the “Significant Nexus” test, cattle producers have had to retain costly legal services to determine if water features on their property are federally jurisdictional,” said Todd Wilkinson, South Dakota cattle producer and President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Today’s Supreme Court opinion refocuses the Clean Water Act on protecting our water resource through regulatory clarity. We look forward to working with the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as they implement the Court’s new Continuous Surface Connection standard."   

NCBA submitted an amicus brief in the Sackett case, encouraging elimination of the Significant Nexus test in exchange for a more practical standard. “In its brief to the Court, NCBA highlighted the unconstitutionality of imposing criminal penalties for violations of vague standards under the Clean Water Act. The Court recognized and reversed the Significant Nexus test, in part due to the constitutional due process risk that it created,” said Mary-Thomas Hart, Chief Counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 

NCBA has been heavily involved in litigation surrounding the WOTUS rule since 2015. NCBA filed suit against the Obama-era WOTUS definition, defended the Trump-era definition that brought more clarity to what water features are included under WOTUS, and filed suit against the Biden administration's WOTUS rule that did not include critical agricultural exemptions.