Supreme Court Victory Stops Clean Water Regulation by Corps


kissimmee-prairie-florida-john-roweOn Tuesday, May 31, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal courts can review Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional determinations that a wetland is subject to Clean Water Act regulations.

This is a huge win for landowners who complained that they faced unreasonable hurdles when they disagreed with the agency’s finding.

This ruling creates a path to challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determination for the first time in 40 years.

The Clean Water Act authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency to regulate “navigable waters,” which these agencies interpret to mean virtually all waters in the United States and much of the land.  Such “waters” are subject to complete federal control with a determination.

The land cannot be disturbed without a federal permit which puts the landowner at the mercy of the federal government.

The ruling now gives the landowner a clear path to challenge the Corps in court.

Though this is a big win for agriculture and private property rights, the Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS) is still being litigated in several U.S. District Courts and the stay on this rule is still in place. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling yesterday is similar in nature but should not be confused as a ruling on WOTUS.