Supreme Court Ruling is a Victory for Landowner Rights

by Elizabeth Alford on June 1, 2016

A new Supreme Court ruling paves the way for landowners to challenge the Clean Water Act.

Related: Fracking Facts: Is Our Water Supply at Risk?

Last week, Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled that a Minnesota company had the right to push back when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted to regulate development on their land

When Hawkes Company tried to get a permit for harvesting on a Minnesota property, federal officials claimed that the property continued water regulated under the Clean Water Act. The Act regulates the discharge of pollutants into “the waters of the United States,” which can include wetlands and swamps that eventually reach other bodies of water.

Hawkes filed suit and the high court ruled in the company’s favor, affirming that property owners could seek a judicial review of the Corps’ determination without having to first go through and expensive permitting process.

The ruling is being hailed a victory for landowner rights with Justice Anthony Kennedy saying the Clean Water Act has troubling implication about governmental overreach in private property.

Mark Miller, managing attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, commented “What makes the procedure so important is that it’s so confusing what is a federal wetland. This is an important case for landowner rights in the sense that now procedurally they can now challenge the federal government much earlier in the process.


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