Sam Graves-A Huge Win for America

May 26, 2023

Dear Friend,

In a huge win for farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and families—the Supreme Court delivered a historic opinion today dramatically reining in the EPA’s authority to regulate our land.

The ruling strikes down the kind of overly broad interpretation of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) adopted by the Biden and Obama Administrations that threatened to subject virtually every square inch of American farmland to EPA regulation.

In practice, these rules would have required landowners to get a permission slip, and in many cases fork over a hefty “mitigation fee,” just to plow their fields, build a pond, build a home, or open a business. That wasn’t just wrong—it was a complete misinterpretation of why Congress passed the Clean Water Act in the first place. It was never meant to stop families from building their dream home or block farmers from plowing a field. The Clean Water Act is meant to stop factories from dumping chemicals into our nations’ waters.

That’s still an important mission and today’s ruling should refocus the EPA on doing just that. Instead of letting the EPA regulate every water with a “significant nexus” to federally regulated waters of the United States, the Supreme Court is saying the EPA should only regulate waters that have a “continuous surface connection” that makes it “indistinguishable” from a WOTUS.

What does all that bureaucrat-speak mean in reality? It means the Supreme Court agrees that you shouldn’t need an engineer and a lawyer to decide whether a puddle or dry ditch on your property is a WOTUS, you just need a set of eyes. It means the EPA ought to focus on the real bad actors and stop harassing farmers, ranchers, families, and small business owners.

It also means the Biden Administration should have listened to me. Instead of ramming through another out-of-touch rule, they should have followed through on the President’s promise to American farmers. He promised to find a definition of WOTUS that balanced the needs of farmers and families while protecting our waters. He didn’t and then vetoed my legislation to overturn his overreaching rule—and now the Supreme Court has done his job for him.

As I’ve said for years: we need clear rules that protect our clean water. This ruling reins in the EPA’s overreach and refocuses their mission on protecting our waters from real polluters. I will keep watching what the Administration’s next move is, but this is a huge win for America.


Sam Graves