Farm groups call it a win for farmers and ranchers over the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. This week the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that landowners may challenge the Army Corps of Engineers findings that a property contains “jurisdictional water.” The high court says that landowners are not helpless when the Army Corps and the EPA declare a “Water of the U.S.” is on a landowner’s property. Colin Woodall, with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says this ruling will go a long way toward helping producers who are fighting the EPA, “ This will allow landowners to file a lawsuit against the EPA much earlier in the process. Prior to this ruling farmers had to obtain a costly and complicated permit before they could contest a ruling by the agency.” Woodall says the latest ruling could have some bearing on the WOTUS court case pending against the EPA and Army Corps in lower federal courts, “This is a promising decision and the fact that it was unanimous shows the court is looking at where the EPA’s authority ends.”
Justin Schneider, senior policy advisor and counsel with Indiana Farm Bureau, says, “While this ruling does not impact the current litigation surrounding the new “Waters of the U.S.” rule regarding whether the agencies have exceeded their authority under the Clean Water Act, it does bring needed relief to farmers.” Prior to this ruling, the Corps and EPA asserted that farmers and other landowners could not appeal those decisions. Instead, they asserted that landowners would have to apply for and obtain costly permits prior to appealing. The alternative was that landowners could choose to ignore the determination and face penalties of $37,500 per day if a court upheld the jurisdictional determination.