The Colorado Farm Bureau Federation recently joined 20 other state Farm Bureaus to file an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioner in the Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency United States Supreme Court case review.

Sackett v. EPA pertains to the federal wetlands jurisdiction under the 1972 Clean Water Act. The case originated in Idaho more than a decade ago when the Sackett family’s land was filled and leveled for home construction. Shortly after, the EPA notified the family that the land was protected under the CWA and needed to be restored to its original state. 

Crucial to the case is the “water of the United States” distinction, which has since seen many interpretations. WOTUS determinations remain unclear and controversial, and in early 2022 the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case again. The SCOTUS ruling will decide the proper test to consider whether applicable wetlands are “waters of the United States.”

The Colorado Farm Bureau and the other state farm bureaus have voiced concern over the federal government’s increasing regulatory overreach in defining and regulating “waters of the US.” The amicus brief cites the lack of a “clear and definitive test” in determining what constitutes WOTUS and lists three primary arguments. 

  1. Over-federalization of water-resources regulation has led to absurd and unsustainable results. 
  2. State and local governments are well-suited to regulate land and water use. 
  3. State and local regulations provide robust protections for water resources.

As expected, the brief has generated significant interest from other stakeholders. An additional twenty-seven briefs have since been filed, and farm bureaus around the country have taken steps to voice their opposition to the increasing threat of federal regulatory overreach. Colorado’s farmers and ranchers rely on clear and straightforward rules that our industry can adhere to without fearing punishment.

Colorado and other states’ Farm Bureau’s have also participated in stakeholder meetings with EPA staff around the country to voice producer concerns over the Biden administration’s proposed WOTUS rules. AFBF is disappointed that the meetings will not become part o the official record for the rulemaking process, and producers will need to engage heavily in the public comment period when the final rule is proposed.