4 weeks ago

Does President Trump know that his Administration is blocking an important Michigan road project?

By Mark Miller Senior Attorney

On behalf of its client the Marquette County Road Commission, today Pacific Legal Foundation filed its Reply Brief in Marquette County Road Commission v. EPA, a case now pending before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. In this important administrative and environmental law case, PLF and Mike Patwell, a Michigan environmental law specialist, represent a local government agency in Michigan as it takes on the federal government and its Environmental Protection Agency. and Army Corps of Engineers.

PLF doesn’t normally represent government agencies, but here this local government may as well be David taking on Goliath. For reasons that defy common sense, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have blocked an absolutely necessary and vital road project, what would be County Road 595, in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Pursuant to the Clean Water Act, the State approved the project. The locals want the project as it will move dangerous mining truck traffic off of small town roads onto this highway. State leaders want the project as it will be a boon to the economy and it protects the environment, since it cuts in half the amount of fuel that those trucks will expend relying upon the new route. The elected officials of Michigan, on both sides of the aisle, want the road built. But the Obama administration blocked the project and now the Trump administration continues to fight the project tooth and nail.

It is inexplicable that President Trump, who campaigned on jobs, improvements to infrastructure, and less bureaucracy, would continue the prior Administration’s fight against building this road, but here we are.

In fact, President Trump’s administration is even trying to keep the case out of court. That is exactly what we’re arguing about before the Sixth Circuit—can we even get our challenge to the EPA’s arbitrary veto of the road project into court for review on the merits? When we win the appeal, we will then receive the opportunity to show that the EPA and Corps acted unlawfully and inconsistently with the Clean Water Act when they stopped the State of Michigan from approving the road and allowing the Road Commission to build the road. But for now, the EPA and Corps fight to prevent their decisions from receiving the review of a neutral judge.

It is scandalous that the federal bureaucracy can arbitrarily thwart such a valuable state-approved project—and then insist it needn’t answer for its decisions. That is why PLF took on the case, and we look forward to seeing the rule of law win again. We expect oral argument to be scheduled for later this year. To learn a little more about the case, I encourage you to watch this video that explains why this lawsuit matters to so many in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan:

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Marquette County Road Commission v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Marquette County Road Commission in Michigan’s upper peninsula, wants to build a road through some undeveloped land to create a short-cut for heavy-duty trucks transporting ore from a local mine to its processing facility. The state environmental quality agency agreed, but the federal EPA vetoed the county’s permit application for vaguely stated “environmental reasons” even though the county planned to protect 26 acres of wetlands for every one acre of wetland filled by the project.

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