WASHINGTON, August 29, 2023 – The Southern Environmental Law Center today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rule conforming to the May 2023 U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Sackett v. EPA, which drastically reduced the scope of federally protected wetlands and other waters.

SELC filed a friend-of-the-court brief representing 113 environmental and community organizations in the Sackett case and has litigated in support of strong federal clean water protections.

“The rule finalized in response to the Supreme Court’s drastic reduction in wetland protections while two hurricanes are barreling off our coasts is nothing to celebrate,” said Kelly Moser, senior attorney and leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Water Program. “The rule mirrors the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Sackett, which overturned decades of law and practice and put the safety of our communities and waters at risk. The rule, like the Sackett decision itself, severely restricts the federal government’s ability to protect critical waters including wetlands that shield communities from damaging floods and pollution.”

The impact of Sackett v. EPA is all the more damaging to the state of North Carolina where the state General Assembly recently removed long-standing protections for millions of acres of wetlands that buffer our communities from increasingly intense storms and floods, act as natural pollution filters that improve our water quality, and protect wildlife as well as fish and shellfish.

The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 200, including 100 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.   southernenvironment.org