2 years ago

The scope of PLF's Hawkes Co. Supreme Court case could have implications for millions of landowners

By Kevin Desormeaux Digital Content Manager

PLF Director of Communications Harold Johnson interviews PLF attorneys Reed Hopper and Mark Miller about Hawkes Co., Inc., et al. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, a case being appealed at the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of March. PLF is representing Hawkes Co., a business who wants to harvest peat from it’s property in northwestern Minnesota. The United States Army Corps of Engineers claims the usage of the property falls under the Clean Water Act and the owners of Hawkes Co. would have to get costly permits, that would be detrimental to their business.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes

Hawkes Company is a family-owned business in Minnesota that harvests peat moss, for landscaping. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly claimed jurisdiction over the property as regulated wetlands. This put Hawkes in the untenable position of (1) abandoning all use of the land at great loss; (2) spending several hundred thousand dollars to seek an unnecessary federal permit; or (3) using the land without federal approval at the risk of $37,500-a-day fines and criminal prosecution. When Hawkes challenged the Corps in court, lower courts dismissed the case as unripe for review. But the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a Jurisdictional Determination is a binding legal decision subject to immediate judicial challenge.

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