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Senators Urge EPA to Heed Supreme Court Decision

Ask for Explanation of Ruling's Impact on Clean Water Act Enforcement

May 31, 2012

Washington, DC—U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to explain how its enforcement office will handle Clean Water Act cases given the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Sackett v. EPA.  The request comes after the director of EPA's water enforcement said in a recent speech that the court's decision will have little effect on the agency and that, "internally, it's same old, same old."

"It is very troubling that an EPA official with water enforcement responsibilities would believe that the Supreme Court's decision in Sackett has little effect on how the agency enforces the Clean Water Act," wrote Crapo, Risch and 14 others in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

In Sackett v. EPA the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Clean Water Act compliance orders are subject to judicial review before enforcement.  In the majority opinion Justice Scalia noted, "There is no reason to think that the Clean Water Act was uniquely designed to enable the strong-arming of regulated parties into voluntary compliance."

The Senators went on to point out that since EPA issues over 1,000 administrative compliances annually, they do not believe this is an isolated case with ‘little effect' on EPA's practices.  They urged Administrator Jackson to clarify the troubling comments and explain how the agency plans to proceed.

The entire letter is available below.