The Supreme Court ruled Thursday against the Environmental Protection Agency in a longstanding case that will narrow what defines a wetland.
In a 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court ruled that the definition, “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, applies only to wetlands that have “continuous surface connection.”
The ruling ends a more-than-15-year battle brought on by Idaho couple Michael and Chantell Sackett, who were ordered by the EPA to restore land they had backfilled on their lot to build a home.
EPA officials at the time notified the Sacketts that they were in violation of the Clean Water Act because wetlands on the property were near a ditch, which feeds into a creek that runs into Priest Lake.
The Sacketts sued, initiating a case that ultimately challenged the legality of the testing method used for determining wetlands as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
The court’s ruling Thursday is hailed as a victory for property owners, but environmentalists have argued such a decision will have far-reaching implications for wetlands protections.