The Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority over wetlands, the latest in a series of decisions reining in federal agencies.
Held: The CWA’s use of “waters” in §1362(7) refers only to “geographic[al] features that are described in ordinary parlance as ‘streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes’ ” and to adjacent wetlands that are “indistinguishable” from those bodies of water due to a continuous surface connection. Rapanos v. United States, 547 U. S. 715, 755, 742, 739 (plurality opinion). To assert jurisdiction over an adjacent wetland under the CWA, a party must establish “first, that the adjacent [body of water constitutes] . . . ‘water[s] of the United States’ (i.e., a relatively permanent body of water connected to traditional interstate navigable waters); and second, that the wetland has a continuous surface connection with that water, making it difficult to determine where the ‘water’ ends and the ‘wetland’ begins.” Ibid. Pp. 6–28.
Decision: Click to access 21-454_4g15.pdf