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Supreme Court Limits E.P.A.'s Power to Address Water Pollution

Summary

The Supreme Court ruling on May 25, 2023, has curtailed the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) to regulate millions of acres of wetlands, dealing a blow to the agency's efforts to combat pollution. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for five justices, stated that the Clean Water Act does not grant the E.P.A. the power to regulate discharges into wetlands unless they have a continuous surface connection to bodies of water. Environmental law experts believe this decision will leave many wetlands vulnerable to pollution without penalty, significantly undermining the E.P.A.'s ability to protect them under the Clean Water Act. The ruling follows a previous Supreme Court decision that limited the E.P.A.'s authority to address climate change under the Clean Air Act. The court's decision signifies its skepticism toward the authority of administrative agencies and its willingness to interpret the scope of such agencies' power.

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