The Supreme Court on Thursday slashed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory control over water bodies in a win for conservative critics who argued the agency wielded too much power.
The court ruled that the 1972 Clean Water Act, which allows the EPA to regulate wetlands, only applies to wetlands that are obviously connected to larger regulated water bodies.
The case arose from a situation of an Idaho couple, Michael and Chantell Sackett, who wanted to build a home on land that the EPA considered a protected wetland.
The EPA argued the “wetlands” on the Sacketts’ property should be classified as “waters of the United States” because they were near a ditch that fed into a creek, which fed into Priest Lake, according to court documents.
In the court’s opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that a protected wetland must have a “continuous surface connection” to a larger body of water. An underground connection that is not obvious does not give the EPA…