Sierra Club Statement On Sackett v. EPA Supreme Court Case

April 13, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a fossil fuel and industry backed effort to gut the Clean Water Act by narrowing the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). A negative decision from the Supreme Court could open millions of acres of wetlands and millions of miles of streams – all currently protected by the Clean Water Act – to pollution and destruction. 

Such a ruling would harm not only frontline communities living near impacted waters but downstream communities as well who would be exposed to higher levels of pollution.  If the industry’s efforts are successful, the drinking water supplies of one in three Americans will be at risk. Three in four Americans support strong federal protections for more waters and wetlands, and decades of polling affirm that protecting our water supplies garners overwhelming support across ideological lines. 

We also want to recognize that today’s argument is the first time Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will take the bench. We are grateful to witness this historic moment, as for the first time since the inception of this country, a Black woman will sit on the nation's highest court.

In response, Sierra Club President Ramon Cruz issued the following statement:

“Congress passed the landmark Clean Water Act on October 18, 1972 - almost exactly 50 years ago - to protect our communities and our waters, not polluters. In the decades since, polluters and the industry have done everything in their power to gut the Clean Water Act and take us back to a time when they could recklessly and cheaply contaminate the waters our families and communities rely on for drinking, swimming, fishing, and more. The Supreme Court failing to uphold these protections for our waters would be a radical departure from what the public wants and what Congress enacted half a century ago. 

“Water is one of our most critical resources, and the Supreme Court, Congress, and the Administration, along with all of us, have a duty to do everything we can to protect our waters today and for future generations. This is the power and importance of the courts to our environmental priorities. The Sierra Club rises with our allies and will continue in this fight until every waterway is safe and every person in this country has access to clean, safe, reliable water.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit