Montpelier – Along with more than 100 environmental and community groups around the US, the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) has signed on to a United States Supreme Court brief in a case that will determine which waters will receive protection under the Clean Water Act (CWA), to protect small tributaries and wetlands. The brief is filed in support of the Environmental Protection Agency in the case, Sackett v. EPA.
In January 2020, the Trump Administration adopted a rule that significantly narrowed the types of waters covered by the Clean Water Act, limiting it to larger rivers, lakes, and ponds, and thereby excluding smaller tributaries and wetlands, putting these vital water resources at risk. The Biden Administration has repealed the Trump rule and replaced it with a much broader definition of waters protected by the CWA. Now, the Biden rule is being challenged in the Sackett appeal, an action that could have devastating effects for the safety of our watersheds. While Vermont law defines waters more broadly than even the Biden rule, VNRC believes it is vital for the Supreme Court to affirm that the Clean Water Act requires even small tributaries and wetlands to be clean and healthy as part of the promise of access to clean water throughout the country.
Jon Groveman, Policy and Water Program Director for VNRC, stated, “We cannot allow this rewinding of the clocks of progress. We must protect our vital streams, tributaries, and wetlands so they are not polluted or developed. Our future depends on the health of our waters – including these seemingly small waters which are central to the health of Vermont’s ecosystem.”