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Friday, December 1, 2023

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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

SCOTUS Idaho Case Unravels Federal Wetlands Protections

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Friday, May 26, 2023   

A U.S. Supreme Court case that began in Idaho has weakened protections across the nation under the Clean Water Act.

The justices on Thursday handed down a 5-4 decision that will undo federal safeguards for wetlands. The case stems from a couple's attempt to build a house in Priest Lake, Idaho. The Environmental Protection Agency informed the couple that backfilling on the property violated the Clean Water Act because it was affecting sensitive wetland habitat. The couple sued the agency.

Alex Funk, director of water resources and senior counsel for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said the decision is a blow in many respects, including to people who enjoy the outdoors.

"For the hunting, fishing and sporting, and even kind of the broader outdoor rec community," he said, "these wetlands provide so many public values that are now at significant risk from development and other impacts."

In its decision, the majority wrote that Clean Water Act protections extend only to wetlands "indistinguishable" from larger bodies of water. It could affect up to 90 million acres of wetlands across the country.

Funk said wetlands are vital ecosystems providing benefits that tend to go unrecognized.

"If anything," he said, "this is going to put major setbacks on things like our ability to adapt to climate change, respond to extreme weather events, drought."

He noted that these habitats are essential for clean water, flood mitigation and storing carbon. Wetlands cover 386,000 acres in Idaho, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Disclosure: Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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