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Big news on the green front: our environmental watchdog, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has faced a significant setback. The Supreme Court recently reined in the EPA’s ability to regulate our nation’s water bodies and wetlands, a serious blow to the agency’s fight against Pollution.

Source: CBS News/Youtube

You might remember the Clean Water Act, that pivotal law that’s been safeguarding our waterways for over half a century. The core of this recent issue revolves around how we define the “waters of the United States”, which the Act is supposed to protect. The EPA used to cover wetlands having a “significant nexus” to regulated waters, a definition that’s now been tightened to only include areas directly linked to navigable waters like rivers and lakes.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. led the 5-4 majority opinion, asserting that the EPA’s previous interpretation of its powers had overstepped. The court now mandates that the Clean Water Act covers only those wetlands directly and visibly connected to major water bodies.

However, not everyone agreed with this decision. Justice Elena Kagan voiced concern that this was yet another instance of the court overstepping its bounds, comparing the ruling to last term’s decision which limited the EPA’s power to address Climate change.

This ruling impacts a substantial chunk of EPA’s authority. In particular, it’s going to affect their ability to protect upstream waters crucial for maintaining downstream water quality. This could potentially leave as much as 118 million acres of wetlands unprotected — a landmass larger than California! Developers and builders may see this as a win, but it’s a severe blow for our environment.

The silver lining? This decision might be a catalyst for stronger, more resilient environmental regulations. Now more than ever, we need to let our voices be heard. Let’s start the conversation with our local representatives, advocating for laws that effectively protect our wetlands and waters.

Remember, our fight for clean water is far from over. Just as every drop contributes to a mighty river, each of our voices can create a tide of change. The planet needs our help; let’s rise to the occasion!

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