U.S. SENATE – Senator Daines today released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to side with private property owners Michael and Chantell Sackett in Sackett vs. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and narrow the scope of the federal government’s regulatory authority over “waters of the United States.”
“Today the Supreme Court helped put Montana farmers and ranchers more in charge of the decisions about their own land, ripping it away from unelected Washington bureaucrats. Our farmers and ranchers feed the country and the world and should not have to fear an overbearing federal government making decisions about their land for them,” said Daines. “For too long Washington Democrats have depended on the regulatory agencies and the judiciary to force their will on the American people when they could not get their way through the legislative process and I am glad to see the Court recognize this and right these wrongs.”
Daines is an outspoken advocate for the rights of Montana landowners. Earlier this year, he joined his Republican colleagues in introducing a formal challenge to the Biden administration’s burdensome “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule through a Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution of disapproval. After the CRA passed both the House and the Senate, it was vetoed by President Biden.
Senator Daines also joined 200 colleagues in submitting an amicus brief for Sackett v. EPA that laid out support for ensuring that farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and property owners could develop their land without the threat of federal bureaucrats charging them with civil or criminal penalties.
Today, all nine Supreme Court Justices concurred in reversing the judgement of the Ninth Circuit that the EPA had regulatory authority over Mike and Chantell Sackett’s property.
The Sackett’s have been in a legal battle with the EPA since 2007 over the legality of them building a home on land they own near Priest Lake, Idaho. The EPA claimed that the Sackett’s property was a protected wetland under federal jurisdiction and threatened the Sackett’s with thousands of dollars in fines a day if they continued to develop the property. The EPA claimed that the property was under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA), which regulates “waters of the United States” and “navigable waters.” The Sackett’s had to first bring a case all the way to the Supreme Court in 2012 to secure a decision that they had the right to challenge the EPA’s order in a court of law. Once they secured that unanimous decision, they were then able to bring a suit against the EPA and ask the Supreme Court to clarify the scope of the EPA’s regulatory powers under the CWA. And today, the court again unanimously ruled in their favor.
Prior to this case, the court decided in 2006, in Rapanos v. United States that the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers definition of “navigable waters” was illegal and limited the scope of federal authority over non-navigable waters, but the court did not create a clear ruling. Instead, Justice Kennedy created a vague and broad “significant nexus” test.