White House official urges states to boost wetlands protections

By Miranda Willson | 06/17/2024 04:06 PM EDT

States play a vital role in undoing “the damage” of a recent Supreme Court Clean Water Act case, Brenda Mallory said.

Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory.

Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory is pictured at hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee. Francis Chung/POLITICO

A senior White House official called on states Monday to heighten protections for wetlands one year after the Supreme Court severely curtailed federal oversight.

The Biden administration is partnering with private companies, nonprofits and state and local governments, as well as boosting environmental restoration programs, to compensate for the effects of the Sackett v. EPA ruling. But “every state” must also step up to the challenge, said Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“Even if we do everything we can to bolster clean water protections, it still likely will not be enough to fully protect the waters at risk because of the Sackett decision, unless each and every state takes action to undo the damage that was done,” Mallory said.


In Sackett, the court ruled that only wetlands that are physically touching a major river, lake or ocean are regulated under the Clean Water Act. The decision has left over half the nation’s wetlands outside the scope of the law. It also puts states in the driver’s seat for regulating, if at all, a huge swath of wetlands nationwide.