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Hawkes Co., Inc. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
782 F.3d 994 (2015)


Facts

Hawkes Co., Inc. (Hawkes) (plaintiff) wanted to mine peat on wetlands property. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) (defendant) determined that the property was subject to the Clean Water Act. Therefore, Hawkes needed an ACOE permit to mine on the property. If Hawkes mined without a permit, Hawkes faced potential federal penalties. However, the permitting process was so expensive and time-consuming that ACOE personnel advised Hawkes to abandon its mining plans rather than seek a permit. Hawkes sought judicial review of the ACOE's determination that the Clean Water Act applied to its property. The district court found that the ACOE’s determination was final. However, the district court also concluded that the ACOE’s determination settled no rights or obligations from which legal consequences would flow because Hawkes could still: (1) seek a permit if it wanted or (2) try mining without a permit. Unless Hawkes was either denied the permit or fined for mining without a permit, there was no final agency action for the court to review. Thus, the district court dismissed the complaint. Hawkes appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Loken, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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Concurrence (Kelly, J.)

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