Alaska legislators lodge support for permafrost case

February 22, 2017 | By DAMIEN SCHIFF

Earlier this week, a coalition of Alaska state legislators urged the state’s federal representatives, and relevant members of the new administration, to revoke the so-called Alaska Supplement to the Army Corps of Engineers’ 1987 Wetlands Delineation Manual. Citing PLF’s ongoing legal challenge, the legislators’ letter explains that the supplement is illegal because, contrary to clear Congressional direction and the 1987 Manual itself, the supplement purports to assert Clean Water Act jurisdiction over millions of acres of permafrost, i.e., frozen ground. Although most states do not have permafrost, the issue underlying the letter, and PLF’s lawsuit, applies throughout the nation. The Corps has promulgated nine other regional supplements, and each purports to supersede contrary provisions in the otherwise nationally applicable 1987 Manual. Thus, the issue of whether the Corps can put in place a special rule for Alaska will determine whether the agency can get away with similar jurisdiction-expanding efforts in other parts of the country.