Case Summary Citation

Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, 143 S. Ct. 1322 (2023)


In 2007, the Sacketts began developing a property a few hundred feet from Priest Lake in Northern Idaho by filling their lot with gravel. The EPA determined the lot constituted a federally protected wetland under the WOTUS definition because the lot was near a ditch that fed into a creek flowing into Priest Lake, a navigable intrastate lake. The EPA halted the construction. The Sacketts sued the EPA, arguing the CWA did not apply to their property. The Supreme Court held that the CWA did not apply to the Sacketts property because the CWA only covers wetlands and streams that have “continuous surface connection with a “waters” of the United States.” The connection between the wetlands and the WOTUS must be indistinguishable, making it difficult to determine where the wetland begins and the WOTUS ends. The Sackett holding has enormous ramifications in the administration of the CWA, weakening the Act's ability to protect waters across the United States. This case note explores the broader implications of the Supreme Court's decision and its lasting impact on the application of the CWA.



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