The Supreme Court handed a loss to the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday in a case addressing whether property owners must obtain use permits from the federal government.
The Hill reports the Court ruled unanimously that a “landowner can appeal through the 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.”
The justices held in the case of Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc, that if the Corps determines an owner’s property to be wetlands that is a “final agency action” and therefore able to be appealed directly through the federal court system.
“For more than 40 years, millions of landowners nationwide have had no meaningful way to challenge wrongful application of the federal Clean Water Act to their land. They have been put at the mercy of the government because land covered by the Act is subject to complete federal control,” principal attorney M. Reed Hopper of the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation said in a statement Tuesday. “This victory guarantees the rights of millions of property owners.”
Last year, the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA jointly issued a new regulation expanding the waterways covered under their jurisdictions, which was challenged in court. The rule has been stayed until the litigation is complete.
Critics of the rule see it as another instance of the Obama administration engaging in executive overreach without legal authorization from Congress.
In February, the Supreme Court also halted the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan until legal challenges make their way through federal courts.
“That challenge is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which will hear oral arguments on June 2. In all likelihood, this means a D.C. Circuit decision will not be issued until early fall, at the earliest.,” the Washington Post reported.