EPA takes hit in Clean Water Act case

By |  June 1, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a landowner can appeal through a federal court system a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers that a water body is subject to federal jurisdiction and permit requirements under the Clean Water Act.

According to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), the Supreme Court ruled in Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Inc. that a property owner can challenge a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers upon receipt as opposed to waiting for enforcement action and risking fines. In the case, a Minnesota peat-mining firm argued that the finding of jurisdictional waters on his land blocked him from collecting peat on that portion of his property.

NSSGA reports Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in the ruling that the Clean Water Act raises some troubling questions regarding the government’s power to cast doubt on the full use of private property throughout the United States.

A determination from the Army Corps of Engineers or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that a body of water falls under the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) standard means the landowner needs federal permits for any activity that would alter the body of water. The WOTUS rule would increase the number of waters subject to Clean Water Act requirements.

NSSGA adds that it has filed a lawsuit to challenge the WOTUS rule, and that the rule is currently under a nationwide stay.

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