Supreme Court Ruling on Waterway Regulation

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The Supreme Court opened the door to more lawsuits over the Clean Water Act in a late-May 2016 ruling that allows businesses to now challenge the federal government’s decisions on which waterways the EPA can regulate. The case, “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.,” saw unanimous agreement among the eight active justices that the determinations should be open to court review, with concurring opinions outlining separate lines of reasoning for reaching that conclusion.

“The fact that the ruling was unanimous shows that even the liberal justices will not automatically defer to the Obama administration’s Clean Water Act policy interpretations which impact property rights,” said Larry Liebesman, a senior adviser at Dawson and Associates and former Justice Department environmental attorney. “The ruling also suggests that the [Waters of the United States] rule will likely face similar scrutiny should it reach the Court.”