What recourse do you have if the feds say your property contains wetlands and you disagree?
According the the Fifth Circuit, you’re out of luck.
Circuit Judges Reavley, Davis, and Higginson (appointed by Presidents Carter, Reagan and Obama) ruled in Belle Co. v. Corps of Engineers that landowners cannot appeal determinations by the Army Corps. of Engineers that their land contains federally controlled wetlands to the courts.
You can read the full decision at CFACT.org.
The judges held that landowners must go through the entire costly ordeal of seeking a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) before they can challenge the Corp.’s determination. The judge’s convoluted rationale was that the government’s determination that your land falls withing the jurisdiction of the CWA is not final, however, for people seeking to use their land, final is just what it is.
In effect, if the feds say you have wetlands and you reply, “no I don’t, my land’s dry,” there’s nothing you can do.
This decision will not only make it harder and more expensive for people to use their own property, it is likely to discourage some landowners from developing their property at all.
EPA is currently accepting public comments on its proposed rule to broaden the definition of what constitutes “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the CWA to include just about every occasionally damp ditch and puddle in the nation. This will bring vast new parcels of land under federal control.
There’s a nationwide outcry going on over EPA’s WOTUS land grab and it’s not pretty for the Obama Administration.
Farm Bureaus and free market think tanks like CFACT have labored long and hard to educate the public about WOTUS and to encourage citizens to speak up before the public comment period expires October 2oth.
You can sign CFACT’s public statement to EPA here. Please circulate it to a friend.
Efforts to educate the public about EPA’s new WOTUS rule are having an impact. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy actually said, “I have never proposed anything that I thought would be so well-received as this that has fallen totally flat on its face.”
EPA would like the public to believe its new rule to be benign, but landowners aren’t buying it.
Green-Left gadflies consider the Clean Water Act to be among their most potent weapons for thwarting economic activity.
On Monday Green campaigners used a bogus rationale about water to convince the Oregon Department of State Lands to deny a permit to Ambre Energy to export coal from Oregon’s Ports to Asia. The Australian energy company’s plans would have created 3,100 jobs and generated billions of dollars of economic activity. The plans were blocked when Oregon officials ruled that trace amounts of coal dust would hurt fisheries used by native American tribes.
If EPA’s WOTUS rule goes through, the Green’s ability to control land with this kind of trumped up rationale will magnify many fold.