Alaskans react to Supreme Court ruling on wetland protections

Alaskans give their response to a Supreme Court ruling limiting federal protections of wetlands.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 10:26 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A Supreme Court ruling made on Thursday limits the federal government’s ability to protect wetlands across the country.

The ruling affects the Clean Water Act, which put wetlands under federal protection, with the move changing how much protection applies to wetlands. Now, only wetlands that have a connection on the surface to regulated bodies of water will be protected.

With over 174 million acres of wetlands within the State of Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy praised the decision, saying it will further help development within the state.

“The court made the right call in limiting federal jurisdiction over wetlands and placing decision-making power back in the hands of states,” Dunleavy said in a press release.

While Dunleavy says that this will be beneficial for development, there are others that say it will be damaging to Alaska’s wetlands since their protection has been drastically diminished.

“It’s really helpful to have money and resources and staff time from the federal government when looking at our wetlands and how to protect them because it takes a lot of work to make sure that we are not going to compromise our drinking water or our wildlife or our fish or our communities,” Alaska Environment Research and Policy Center State Director Dyani Chapman said.

Chapman says that this ruling can also affect Alaska’s ability to perform flood management, and she encourages Congress to reverse the ruling, as well as for state and local officials to increase protections for Alaska’s wetlands.

But Dunleavy said the ruling “puts Alaska back on the map,” and “there is no doubt, thanks to today’s ruling, that Alaska is once again open for business.”

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor was also in support of the ruling, saying that it gives more power to the state to manage its own land and water.