January 13, 2016

Paul Ryan cites PLF cases in WOTUS op-ed

By Mark Miller Senior Attorney

Paul RyanSpeaker of the House and Congressman from Wisconsin, wrote a timely piece for today’s Omaha World Herald criticizing the EPA’s new waters of the United States (WOTUS) definition. Ryan aptly sets out that the new rule is about power, and nothing less:

The Obama administration’s sweeping new rule, dubbed Waters of the United States (WOTUS), could upend the way water is used across the country. Allegedly to protect the water supply, the Environmental Protection Agency has rewritten a long-standing regulation so that the EPA can micromanage everyone’s use of their own land, including that of farmers and ranchers.

Ryan points at two cases and two cases alone to demonstrate that the federal government wants to micromanage all the land in the country: Pacific Legal Foundation‘s Duarte Nursery v. Army Corps of Engineers case, and PLF’s Andy Johnson v. EPA case. Ryan describes these two examples of federal government environmental overreach well:

Real people have already suffered at the hand of WOTUS. Andy Johnson of Fort Bridger, Wyoming, was fined $37,500 a day by the EPA for building a pond on his land to water his horses, even though he had obtained state permits to do so. John Duarte of rural Tehama County in California was told that he broke the law simply by plowing his land. He was ordered to cease and desist immediately.

We agree with Speaker Ryan that there are few cases that better show the federal government’s overreach in regards to wetlands, and that is why we represent John Duarte and Andy Johnson free of charge (as we represent all our clients). We also have sued to stop the implementation of the new WOTUS rule; in the meantime, Congress, led by Speaker Ryan, passed a Congressional Review Act resolution today disapproving of the new WOTUS rule.

To learn more about the Duarte Nursery case, listen to John Duarte tell his story below, read his lead PLF lawyer Tony Francois‘s blogposts about the case, or review our case information page.

Jonathan Wood leads the PLF team representing Andy Johnson. You can read Jonathan’s posts about that case on our blog here, and read our page about the case at this link.

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Waters of the United States

In 2015 PLF challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to stretch federal control to nearly every pond, ditch, and puddle in the nation as nothing more than an outrageous—and illegal—power grab under cover of the Clean Water Act. And under the Act, people who are harmed by such rules have six years to sue in federal district court. That is, until the EPA rewrote the rule, trying to prevent legal action by giving property owners just 120 days to sue, and then only in federal appellate courts. On January 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the EPA’s power play and unanimously ruled for PLF and property rights. The High Court agreed with PLF that the EPA cannot shelter its “waters of the United States” rule from judicial review by arbitrarily limiting where victims can sue.

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