President’s weekly report — January 12, 2013

January 11, 2013 | By ROB RIVETT

Property Rights – Koontz

All eyes will be on PLF and the Supreme Court this Tuesday as PLF Principal Attorney Paul Beard argues this important property rights case on behalf of Coy A. Koontz.  Mr. Koontz is the Florida landowner who was denied a building permit because he wouldn’t give in to extortionate demands that he pay for offsite improvements on government land that had nothing to do with his project. The U.S. Supreme Court took the case to address a longstanding question about whether such exactions must meet the constitutional standards expressed by the Supreme Court in Nollan and Dolan that prohibit the government from taking more property than is required or allowed by law.  The outcome of this case could affect virtually all landowners in the country and determine the scope of our constitutional rights in private property.  We filed our reply brief in the case this week.  The case is set for oral argument on Tuesday, January 15.  We have had many blog posts this week on the case, and we will continue to update this blog regularly as the case unfolds.

Environment – Decker

Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center took another unusual turn this week when the U.S. Supreme Court asked for additional briefing AFTER oral argument.  Decker is a hugely important case because of its potential impact on timber harvesting throughout the Nation.  In Decker the High Court must decide whether timber harvesters must obtain federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits to cover stormwater runoff on logging roads which extend thousands of miles throughout the country.  On behalf of scores of timber, conservation and educational organizations, PLF filed an amicus brief in the case urging the Court to hold that storm runoff is subject to state regulation and not federal regulation in keeping with longstanding federal practice.  At oral argument, the Supreme Court was caught by surprise when the EPA proposed new rules that exempted these roads from NPDES permitting.  Now the Court has asked the parties to weigh in on how this new rule affects the case.  Hopefully the Court won’t find that the new rule moots the case as the question before the court is a matter of national importance that deserves definitive resolution sooner rather than later.