Good News for Owners of Puddles, Ditches and Plows

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The Supreme Court does not always offer unanimous decisions, but here is one that supporters of property rights will like in the case titled United States v. the Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.   Today they ruled that landowners may challenge  the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency,  when they attempt to improperly regulate land with regulations designed to protect water.

To give a little background, in the past the Army Corps of Engineers could write a “determination”  that your property could be regulated because it impacts water.  But a “determination”  was not considered as a “final agency action.”   As a result property owners who received a “determination” that a landscape feature was a “water of the United States” from the Army Corp of Engineers had two options,  continue what they were doing and face civil fines up to $37,500 a day, or attempt to comply.  The compliance process would take several years and require tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to apply for a permit, only to have the permit ultimately denied.   Only after a permit was denied could they seek remedy in the courts.

Now property owners will have the right to challenge the Army Corp of Engineers at the beginning of the process instead of the end.  Hopefully now, farmers and ranchers will be able to protect their rights to plow a field or improve a ditch without a federal permit.

My Thanks to Ag News Wire for getting this important information out to us so quickly

`Lorraine Newman

Montana Farm Bureau Article

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