Wetlands case settled

News January 09, 2000
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In a 5-4 vote, the U

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down the so-called "migratory bird rule" that the Army Corps of Engineers had been using to expand its regulatory authority over wetlands.

Under the rule, the Corps was claiming wetlands jurisdiction over any standing ground water used by birds, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

The Solid Waste Agency of North Cook County (Ill.) challenged the rule all the way to the nation's highest court. In its ruling, the Court said the Corps was exceeding its statutory authority.

In expressing the Court's majority view, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said the Congress specifically intended that Clean Water Act regulatory activities and oversight be limited to the nation's "navigable" waters. "The Act clearly does not extend to abondoned gravel pits that had since filled with water, as were the facts in this case," he said.

"The Supreme Court ruling confirms again what we've been saying for years," ARTBA President Pete Ruane said. "The federal agencies do not have the power to police and take out of potential development every parcel of puddled land in the United States."

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