Supreme Court Ruling Offers Clues on Fate of Obama Rule

WATER POLICY:

Supreme Court ruling offers clues on fate of Obama rule

Enforcement of the Clean Water Act could undergo a wave of changes in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on a key wetlands case, legal scholars say. The opinion is also offering clues to the possible fate of the administration’s new water rule.

The Supreme Court ruled 8-0 yesterday in the case Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Inc. to allow landowners to challenge corps decisions on what is a federally protected wetland (Greenwire, May 31).

Traditionally, landowners had to wait until they began the application process for permits to dredge and fill in wetlands before challenging the Army Corps in court.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his opinion that “the reach and systemic consequences of the Clean Water Act remain a cause for concern,” adding that the law raised “troubling questions” on the government’s influence on private property rights.

Kennedy’s words may set the stage for a possible Supreme Court review of the Obama administration’s contentious Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule, said Larry Liebesman, a senior adviser with the water resources policy firm Dawson and Associates.

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