CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is leading a 21-state bipartisan movement urging the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a lower court’s ruling that protects the rights of property owners nationwide.
The coalition’s amicus, or friend of the court, brief says property owners are entitled to immediately challenge the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in court anytime its officials label someone’s property as a protected wetland.
Morrisey says that without judicial review, property owners would be forced to abandon their plans or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and many months to obtain a special wetlands permit.
The Supreme Court already has rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s move against the location of an Idaho couple’s home. This week’s coalition urges similar support for a Minnesota turf supplier challenging the Corps of Engineers’ claim that its business – more than 120 river miles from the nearest navigable waterway – sits on federal wetland.
The case is styled U.S. Army Corps of Engineers vs. Hawkes Co. Inc., et. al.
“An adverse ruling could impact all West Virginians,” Morrisey said in a statement. “The inability to challenge such rulings would empower the Corps of Engineers and EPA to stymie the hopes and dreams of countless property owners and unnecessarily block years of economic development.”
The coalition’s brief argues immediate review will serve as an important and timely check on federal authority. Otherwise, pressure will build upon landowners to unnecessarily comply and in effect expand federal authority without congressional action.
This action is even more important in light of the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS), a regulation that would unlawfully expand the federal reach over countless small bodies of water, including short-lived streams, roadside ditches and anywhere water may flow once every 100 years.
Morrisey's office led a broad coalition that helped stay the WOTUS rule last year, and he believes the combined impact of these initiatives could devastate countless farmers, coal miners, homebuilders, contractors, retail establishments and public works projects.
West Virginia was joined in this week’s filing by Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.