Supreme Court ruling will weaken EPA’s authority to protect drinking water sources from agriculture pollution

Supreme Court ruling will weaken EPA's authority to protect drinking water sources from agriculture pollution rcoleman May 25, 2023
WASHINGTON Today's 5-4 Clean Water Act ruling by the Supreme Court will limit the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to safeguard much of the country’s drinking water sources from farm pollution runoff. The ruling significantly narrows the scope of “Waters of the United States” that the EPA can regulate under the water law. The decision will weaken the EPA’s authority to hold polluters like large agriculture and factory farming operations accountable for contaminating wetlands that flow into drinking water sources like nearby streams, rivers and lakes. Agricultural activities are one of the main sources of water pollution in U.S. rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater. Each year, farm operators apply more than 12 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer and 8 million tons of phosphorus fertilizer to cropland, some of which runs off into water sources. As a result of today’s ruling, millions of acres of wetlands across the country will no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act.   The following is a statement from EWG’s President and Co-founder Ken Cook:
The Supreme Court’s ruling undermines the EPA's authority to prevent damage to wetlands and other drinking water sources from farm pollution and other industrial activities that can have serious implications for public health. Agriculture is already a leading source of drinking water contamination in the country, and the court’s ruling will only make things worse by curbing the EPA’s ability under the Clean Water Act to hold polluters like corporate agriculture operations accountable. 


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.
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