Statement of Attorney General Phil Weiser regarding U.S. Supreme Court opinion weakening Clean Water Act protections
May 25, 2023 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser released the following statement regarding today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
“For more than 50 years, the Clean Water Act has provided a framework for the federal government and the states to cooperate to protect streams and wetlands from pollution. Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Sackett v U.S. Environmental Protection Agency turns this carefully crafted state/federal partnership on its head. The Court’s new definition of waters of the United States will return our nation to a patchwork of rules and undermine water quality protection efforts in Colorado. And it will do so without the benefit of a transition period to give states and regulated parties time to adjust to a new regime that will have to replace the existing one.
“Under the Court’s new test for which waters would be protected by the Clean Water Act, many of the streams and wetlands in Colorado will be stripped of federal protections—and removed from federal oversight—because they are temporary in nature, lack year-round flow, and don’t have a continuous surface connection to navigable waters. In practice, this means that Colorado will have to step in to address the impacts of dredge and fill activities that have historically been overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“The state of Colorado has a strong interest in protecting water quality because our economy and way of life rely on clean water. And, as a headwaters state, Colorado’s rivers supply millions of people in the U.S. and Mexico with water needed for drinking, agriculture, industry, and outdoor recreation. We in Colorado must find a way forward to protect waters within our borders and provide regulatory certainty for all of us in our state who depend on clean water.”
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