Clarifications Needed On WOTUS
With oral arguments now complete in the Sackett versus EPA case before the Supreme Court, questions still remain related to whether or not the federal government has jurisdiction over certain parcels of land. Courtney Briggs, senior director of government affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation said the confusion goes back to a previous Supreme Court Case that created two tests of jurisdiction.
"One, the relatively permanent test, and the second is the Significant Nexus Test. And the regulated community, including farmers and ranchers, find the use of the Significant Nexus test to be troubling because it is wildly vague and is used to expand the federal government's reach over private property. So, the question before the High Court is, can you use a Significant Nexus Test and is that the appropriate test to assert jurisdiction. Like the Sacketts, our nation's farmers and ranchers would argue that it is not the appropriate test, and we hope that justices will create a limiting principle that will provide clear guardrails on how far the federal government can reach.”
Briggs said there was a lot of debate during recent oral arguments about what Congress meant by “adjacent” in the Clean Water Act.
“This term has been debated since the statute’s inception. But I think one of the most notable takeaways is the fact that a number of justices from various sides of the political spectrum recognized the shortcomings of the Significant Nexus Test, and they really discussed the confusion for landowners in using that test.”
Briggs added the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers still have their proposed WOTUS rule that hinges on “significant nexus” under consideration.
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