American Sustainable Business Network and Business Leaders Call on the Supreme Court to Protect the Clean Water Act
American Sustainable Business Network (ASBN), a movement builder organization committed to inform, connect, and mobilize the business and investor community toward a sustainable economy, calls on the United States Supreme Court to protect vital clean water protections and support the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the upcoming Sackett v. EPA case.
Monday, the Court will hear arguments in the case which will determine which waters can and cannot be protected by the Clean Water Act.
Earlier this year, ASBN joined partner organizations to file a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court in support of the EPA and clean water protections in Sackett to advocate for businesses, farmers, and local economies across the country. The brief is available here.
“While a few polluters will benefit from gutting our nation’s clean water rules, most businesses depend on clean water,” said David Levine, president and co-founder at ASBN. “Clean water protections are especially important for many local economies that depend on tourism to nearby lakes, rivers, and beaches and for certain industries like beverage manufacturing, shellfish, outdoor recreation, farming, and others. It is vital that the Supreme Court rule to protect science-based standards and robust federal protection of wetlands under the Clean Water Act to ensure thriving American businesses and communities.”
Sackett aims to weaken federal clean water protections and narrow the judicial definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The exclusion of wetlands from that definition is particularly at risk in the case, but if adopted, it would have broad impacts on the Act’s ability to protect America’s streams, rivers, and lakes. In the view of amici, “[t]he economic value of clean, healthy water to the U.S. business community is immense, as is the harm that will result from petitioners’ proposed reduction of federal protections.”
“Clean water is valuable to us because our ranchers and communities rely on it,” said Matt Mair, owner of Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed. “There are many wetlands in Minnesota that could be put at risk if the Clean Water Act were to be weakened by the Supreme Court. It is vital that we protect these wetlands and other waterways so that our livestock can flourish, and our rural communities have clean water.”
Protecting wetlands is also vital to prevent economically devastating flooding in downstream and adjacent communities. It is estimated that every three miles of wetland can reduce up to a full foot of storm surge.
“Major investments to restore and protect the Meadowlands wetlands just north of Kearny Point, New Jersey are essential,” said Wendy Neu, CEO of Hugo Neu Corporation, which has Kearny Point, a 130-acre mixed-use office, commercial, light industrial redevelopment campus employing thousands of jobs on the point between the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers. “During Sandy, tidal waters from the swollen Hackensack caused untold devastation for the district’s low-lying communities, many of which sit two feet below the high-water mark. But it would have been much, much worse were it not for the miles of salt marsh and meadows that absorbed millions of gallons of water.”
Reducing clean water protections prioritizes polluting industries over community health. As the brief highlights, “117 million Americans…get their drinking water from sources that would risk losing federal protection under petitioner’s proposed jurisdictional limits.”
“As a brewery, Philadelphia’s tap water from the Delaware River Watershed is our main ingredient,” said Tess Hart, CEO and Co-founder of Triple Bottom Brewing. “While we take for granted that this water will always be available to us, we know that in truth, our waterways — the rivers and wetlands that shape our ecosystem — require active protection so that we can all enjoy safe water, vibrant habitats, and good beer for centuries to come.”
“In the Coastal Plain of South Carolina, much of the economic sector relies on clean waters,” said Rick Baumann, founder of Murrells Inlet Seafood. “With each wetland area that is filled in for development, there is more polluted stormwater runoff. As this reaches our estuaries and rivers, shellfish beds are closed by the health department. Dirty, polluted water is bad for the entire local economy – and for human health.”
Several ASBN business members and partners wrote in support of the position taken in the brief. Clean water is a national priority and ASBN remains committed to raising awareness on the importance of clean water to the economy, environment, and quality of life for all. Through its Clean Water is Good for Business initiative, ASBN brings together businesses from across sectors to educate policymakers and the public about the critical need to protect the nation’s clean water resources.
For more information on ASBN or to become a member, visit www.asbnetwork.org. To receive the latest on key social and environmental legislation impacting the economy, follow us on Twitter at @theASBN.