Capito, Graves lead colleagues in urging Supreme Court to limit agency overreach on Clean Water Act

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) led nearly 200 of their colleagues on April 18 in filing an amicus brief in support of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court related to how much authority the federal government has over states and private citizens under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Sen. Capito is Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, while Rep. Graves serves as Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. They led 45 additional senators and 154 other House members in filing the amici curiae brief in support of the petitioners in the pending case Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency before the high court.
The Sackett case is related to how much authority the federal government has to regulate “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the CWA.

The lawmakers called on the nation’s highest court to reverse the decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that sided with the EPA, which had argued the agency has jurisdiction over wetlands on the Sackett’s property because the wetlands are considered WOTUS.

According to the brief, the lawmakers agree that, “Like the members of Congress that enacted the CWA, [we] support policies that protect the environment while also ensuring that States retain their traditional role as the primary regulators of land and water resources and that farmers, manufacturers, small business owners, and property owners like the Petitioners, in this case, can develop and use their land free of over-burdensome, job-killing federal regulations.”

The lawmakers stated that Congress’ intent was clear in establishing a limited federal regulatory presence in cooperation with states. “In the CWA, Congress selected language that, from practically the Founding, was understood both to exercise limited jurisdiction and to preserve the States’ traditional role as the principal regulators of local waters and lands,” the lawmakers wrote.

“This case presents an opportunity for the Court to finally put the genie back in the bottle … Only then will Congress’s dual purposes of cooperative federalism and environmental protection in the CWA be fully vindicated,” the lawmakers wrote.