States at the forefront of fights over wetlands protections after justices slash federal rules

Homes are under construction near wetlands, left, in Oak Island, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. The Biden Administration weakened protections for wetlands on Tuesday, a win for developers and agricultural groups in some states. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

(AP) A month after the U.S. Supreme Court severely restricted the federal government’s power to oversee wetlands, the Republican-dominated North Carolina legislature handed state agencies an order: Don’t give the ecologically crucial waters any more protection than newly weakened federal rules provide.

It might seem ironic that Republicans who often complain about the federal government would tether their state’s policy to one crafted in Washington, D.C. But this time, doing so meant slashing regulation and aligning themselves with builders, agriculture and other industries that have long sought weaker wetland safeguards.

For decades, federal court battles have pitted environmentalists who want the Clean Water Act to protect more wetlands against industries seeking regulatory rollbacks. The high court’s May 25 decision favoring Idaho landowners Michael and Chantell Sackett curtailed powers of the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to limit wetlands destruction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *