February 5, 2015

Local government challenging EPA?

By Mark Miller Senior Attorney
By Michigan Railroad Commission (Library of Congress- Public Domain)

Pacific Legal Foundation often takes on cases where private property owners face unconstitutional action by the federal government. But another dispute recently caught PLF’s eye, and this battle involves a local government taking on the feds.

In a nutshell, the Michigan upper-peninsula government of Marquette County wishes to build a county road extension (County Road 595) for use as a shortcut through wilderness for commercial truck traffic. By routing the traffic through this shortcut, these dangerous trucks can avoid passing through several busy cities in Marquette County, increasing safety for those who live in those cities.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) object to this common-sense plan.

The EPA and Corps contend that the plan adversely impacts wetlands, and for this reason they demanded a wetlands mitigation plan. When the local government offered to keep 26.6 acres of wetlands for every 1 acre of wetlands filled by the planned road, the EPA and Corps said: not enough! Often it seems it’s never enough when it comes to the federal government. No matter what the local government agency offered, the EPA and Corps refused to budge, and they ultimately would not withdraw their objection to the County Road 595 plan.

Simply put, the position adopted by the EPA and Corps puts wetlands ahead of basic safety for those who live in the cities where these dangerous trucks pass.

This recent news report out of Michigan suggests that Marquette County intends to sue the EPA and Corps to win the right to build this common-sense extension of County Road 595 for the benefits of its citizens and local business interests. PLF intends to follow this dispute closely. When local governments do what is right for a community, the federal government needs to get out of the way.

 

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