Groups file legal case in Supreme Court in favor of stronger drinking water protections for all National Parks Conservation Association
“We all deserve and expect clean water in our parks and for our communities. Our waterways are all connected and what pollutes one affects many…the protection of clean water for drinking, swimming and fishing cannot wait.” Lord of Chad of the NPCA
WASHINGTON, DC – Today the National Parks Conservation Association, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Izaak Walton League, National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited filed an amicus brief in a pivotal Clean Water Act case that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear in October. The decision in Sackett v. EPA is expected to establish a test for determining when wetlands are “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act.
The groups, which represent millions of national park advocates, anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, argue that wetlands with a meaningful connection to traditional navigable waters must be included in Clean Water protections. Act. They also argue that the plaintiffs’ proposed interpretation of the landmark law is based on a misreading of the law’s text, structure and purpose.
Through the brief, the groups show that the narrow interpretation proposed by the Sacketts would remove Clean Water Act protections for the majority of wetlands in the United States, and that state protections would not compensate for the loss of federal protections. They also show that reducing the scope of the Clean Water Act would have devastating effects on national parks, wetlands, rivers and streams, fish and wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for millions. people who enjoy our public lands and the outdoors.
Healthy rivers, streams and waterways are integral to the health of national parks, public lands and all who visit them. Losing drinking water protections would have significant economic consequences for outdoor recreation, which supports $788 billion in consumer spending and more than five million jobs in the United States. Additionally, more than 50 million Americans fished in 2019, where fishing and hunting contributed $200 billion to the US economy.
Quotes from each organization are included below. The groups are represented by Kramer Levin Robbins Russell LLP. For more information, read the complete file here.
“We all deserve and expect clean water in our parks and for our communities,” said Chad Lord, senior director of environmental policy and climate change for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Our waterways are all connected and what pollutes one affects many. From thundering waterfalls to beautiful lakes, rivers and beaches, protecting them is critically important to our livelihoods and worthwhile. As the worsening climate crisis continues to create record flooding, an increase in severe storms and more, protecting clean water for drinking, swimming and fishing cannot wait.
“For too long, our country’s wetlands, waters and wildlife have faced uncertainty with shifting administrative policies that threaten fish and wildlife habitat, hunting and fishing opportunities and the drinking water,” said John Gale, director of conservation for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Athletes have a proud history of investing in the conservation of our natural resources and we have a collective obligation to their future stewardship. Now is not the time to narrow the scope of this noble charge – we must once again come together to ensure our waterways carry the full weight of protection under the Clean Water Act.
“Limiting the scope of the Clean Water Act by removing certain wetlands from its jurisdiction because of their physical connections to the surface is against science, the law and common sense,” said Jared Mott, director conservation of the Izaak Walton League. “The rule proposed here would eliminate protections for a vital link of our waterways, regardless of how a wetland disperses floodwaters, purifies drinking water or provides critical habitat for wildlife. The Izaak Walton League of America is committed to championing the Clean Water Act and is proud to stand with our partners in this action.
“Protecting wetlands and waterways under the Clean Water Act is essential not only for fish and wildlife, but also for the businesses, farms and communities that depend on clean water,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “The millions of American hunters and anglers know that abandoning Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and waters is exactly the wrong idea. We support EPA’s efforts to develop a fair definition of “U.S. waters,” rooted in science and reflecting input from a wide range of voices, that achieves the goal of the Clean Water Act: restore and protect the rivers, streams and wetlands of the United States. .”
“Wetlands are critical to healthy wildlife populations and people’s ability to access and enjoy outdoor recreation,” said Jim Murphy, director of legal advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation. “This brief shows the court that not only is protecting wetlands essential to achieving safe and healthy water for people and communities, but it is essential to protecting access to valuable outdoor activities like trout fishing and duck hunting.
“The impact of this case on the future of fish, wildlife, hunting and fishing is significant,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We are proud to stand with the other groups on the brief to shed light on the urgent need and strong support for the conservation of our nation’s springs and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. An overwhelming majority of hunters and anglers support strengthening federal clean water protections, and the habitat needs are very clear right now. As our waterways and wetlands face the impacts of climate change, it is more important than ever to defend against a narrow definition of what qualifies for clean water protection.
CONTEXT: The Clean Water Act (CWA) was enacted to restore and maintain the quality of the nation’s waters. In part, it regulates discharges of pollutants into “navigable waters,” which are loosely defined as “the waters of the United States.” In the current Sackett v. EPA case, the Supreme Court is considering what should be the proper test for determining whether wetlands are “United States waters” under the CWA. Sackett’s proposed test could deny federal protections to more than half of all wetlands in the country. Our brief argues that this test is not supported by the text, structure, and stated purpose of the CWA.
About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in saving our national parks. The NPCA and its more than 1.5 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our country’s most iconic and inspiring places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
Backcountry hunters and fishers is the voice of our wild public lands, waters and wildlife. Visit www.backcountryhunters.org.
American Fly Fishing Trade Association provides resources, benefits and training to help manufacturers, retailers, guides/outfitters and media in the fly fishing industry. Visit www.affta.org.
Izaak Walton League is one of America’s oldest and most successful conservation organizations – and we are the only organization to train, equip and coordinate volunteer water quality monitors nationwide. These volunteers are the heart and soul of our meaningful conservation mission. Through bottom-up governance led by its members, the Izaak Walton League protects outdoor America in communities across the country, while working strategically at the national level to win critical conservation battles. Visit www.iwla.org.
National Wildlife Federation works across the country to unite Americans of all walks of life by giving wildlife a voice. We have been on the frontlines for wildlife since 1936, fighting for the conservation values that are woven into the fabric of our nation’s collective heritage. Visit www.nwf.org.
Theodore Roosevelt Partnership for Conservation works to ensure quality hunting and fishing grounds are available to all Americans. Visit www.trcp.org.
Unlimited trout is a national non-profit organization with 300,000 members and supporters dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of North America’s cold-water fisheries and their watersheds. Visit www.tu.org.