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Supreme Court Rules in favor of landowners in Clean Water Act Case

Supreme Court Rules in favor of landowners in Clean Water Act Case

from National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Weekly

It’s no cure-all, but the Supreme Court still recently helped small businesses navigate the troubled waters of EPA regulations.

In handing down its ruling in the case US Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. on May 31, the court stated that landowners have immediate authority to challenge federal classifications of protected waters. Many business owners are applauding the decision because it helps protect private land from federal regulation

“Today’s ruling marks a long-awaited victory for individual liberty, property rights, and the rule of law,” M. Reed Hopper told The Daily Caller. Hopper is an attorney who represented Hawkes Co., the plaintiff in the case.

The law in question was the Clean Water Act, which gives the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to determine whether a body of water is considered “waters of the United States.” If wetlands are given that designation, property owners are restricted from using them without a permit.

The Clean Water Act lists several criteria for determining waters of the United States, such as whether the waterway is used for interstate commerce. Several states and business groups such as NFIB have opposed the rule.

Securing a permit is no easy process; it is both expensive and time consuming for landowners, according to Vox.

Until now, business owners were unable to challenge the Army Corps’ designation, which means they either had to enter an arduous process to obtain a permit or forgo using the land. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision that these determinations are subject to challenge and judicial review.

“Everyone who values property rights and access to justice should welcome this historic victory,” Hopper told The Daily Caller.

For more information on the Clean Water Act and the NFIB’s stance on the issue, please visit

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) finalized a rule that expanded their regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) in August 2015.

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