Home builders

U.S. Supreme Court takes up case to determine whether homebuilders’ land was rightly considered ‘wetlands’

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a major water protection case involving protected wetlands, which will likely be heard during the court’s term beginning in October.

The case Sackett v EPA involves a 15-year battle by the Sacketts to build a home in Idaho on land that federal regulators say is a protected wetland. The Sacketts are seeking to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision and narrowly define United States water, or WOTUS, a term establishing federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The resolution of this case could potentially resolve the ongoing question about the scope of WOTUS following the Rapanos v. United States decision in 2006.

The outcome of this case is also expected to impact the rule proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army to revise WOTUS and expand the scope of federally protected waters. The proposed rule was posted on December 7, 2021 and the comment period is now open and will close on February 7, 2022.

Environmental rules and regulations, and their interpretation, change rapidly and can have a significant impact on businesses and landowners. When entering into a real estate transaction or change of use, it is important to understand how these regulations will be applied, and legal counsel can guide you through this process.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “found that the EPA had reasonably determined that the plaintiffs’ property contained wetlands. It further determined that the record clearly supported the EPA’s conclusion that the wetlands on the property claimants were adjacent to a jurisdictional tributary and that, with a similarly complex wetland situation, they had an important connection to Priest Lake, a traditional navigable water, so the property was regulated under the [Clean Water Act] and applicable regulations. »