PLF appeals EPA veto of vital road project in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
February 09, 2017
MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN; February 9, 2017: Pacific Legal Foundation joined with Marquette County officials today in appealing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s unjustified veto of a local road project that is vital for community safety and environmental health.
Representing the Marquette County Road Commission free of charge, PLF attorneys filed an appeal with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking reversal of a district court ruling last year that agreed with EPA’s claim that the courts could not review its road veto.
“We are joining with local officials and the residents of Marquette County to fight back against destructive overreach by federal regulators,” said Mark Miller, a PLF managing attorney. “This case is about winning local residents the right to construct a road that will benefit the environment, help the economy, and enhance traffic safety. But it is also about the rule of law. EPA’s contention that it is not accountable to any outside authority for its road veto cannot be allowed to stand. When unelected bureaucrats issue edicts that impact people’s lives, those decisions must be subject to review by the courts for their consistency with the law.”
At issue is County Road 595, a proposed 21-mile route that would provide a shortcut for heavy trucks, allowing them to bypass busy city streets in Marquette County. As planned and approved by state officials, it would reduce air pollution, increase safety, and save over 450,000 gallons of fuel yearly.
Yet even though state environmental officials signed off on the plan — and it has been endorsed by the Michigan Legislature — EPA regulators intervened and imposed a roadblock, with a controversial claim that CR 595 would adversely impact wetlands.
“EPA hasn’t provided clear details to justify butting in,” noted Miller. “Meanwhile, they have balked at working out a cooperative solution. No matter what proposals and concessions the local government agency offered, the feds refused to budge. This kind of inflexibility is unacceptable.
“Even more unacceptable is EPA’s arrogant claim that its action isn’t subject to judicial review,” Miller continued. “As we will point out in our appeal to the 6th Circuit, EPA can’t set itself up as its own judge and jury. As the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear, in last year’s landmark PLF victory in Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes, when the feds declare property to be wetlands, there is a guaranteed right to seek a second opinion from the courts.”
In a statement underscoring the environmental need for the new road, Jim Iwanicki, engineer for the Marquette County Road Commission, said, “When trucks can travel 22 miles one way rather than 50-plus miles one way, that’s a savings of almost 500,000 gallons of fuel annually. On top of that savings of fossil fuel, County Road 595 would significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide those trucks are putting out, since they’d be driving 1.5 million miles less a year.”
“EPA’s inflexible position puts public safety and sensible local planning at risk,” said Miller. “PLF will not allow federal regulators to escape judicial review when they abuse their power and cause harm to communities.”
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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 14 victories out of 16 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.