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February 21, 2006

Clean Water Act Argument in SC Today: So What Are "Waters of the U.S." These Days, Anyway?

See today's WSJ Law Blog. If your firm does any environmental law, you may know know that two critical companion cases were argued today on the reach of the 33-year-old federal Clean Water Act in a test of the new U.S. Supreme Court. I almost forgot about this--probably because it was such a strange development (no pun), I was in denial the case even got as far as it did. In the two cases, developers are challenging the federal government's authority to regulate (and protect) wetlands.

Simply put, the question is: will wetlands or any other waterways which you can't float a boat in still fall under the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act? If the answer is "no"--i.e., wetlands and certain smaller tributaries to navigable waters are now suddenly "out"--the Clean Water Act and much of its jurisprudence is changed forever unless Congress steps in. Although the case affects many U.S. businesses and persons from diverse political camps in different ways, it's in many ways a straightforward Environmentalists v. U.S. Business dispute. Also see the Associated Press's coverage of the argument.

Posted by JD Hull at February 21, 2006 03:15 PM


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