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

136 S.Ct. 1807 (2016)

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

United States Supreme Court

136 S.Ct. 1807 (2016)

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Facts

Three companies (plaintiffs) mined peat in Minnesota. The plaintiffs also owned a 530-acre parcel near their existing mining operations. The plaintiffs requested a permit under the Clean Water Act to discharge certain material into navigable waters at disposal sites. As part of the permitting process, the plaintiffs requested a determination from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) (defendant) regarding the presence of “waters of the United States” on their parcel. The Corps made this determination through a jurisdictional determination (JD) on a case-by-case basis. An approved JD definitively stated the presence or absence of such waters and, under the regulations, constituted a Corps final agency action. Through a memorandum of agreement, an approved JD was binding for five years on both the Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If no waters of the United States were present, then no permit was required. The Corps advised the plaintiffs that the permitting process could take years to complete and would be very expensive. After reviewing the plaintiffs’ information, the Corps issued an approved JD, determining that the property contained waters of the United States because of a nexus to the Red River of the North, approximately 120 miles from the property. The plaintiffs administratively appealed the determination, which was affirmed. The plaintiffs then filed a petition for judicial review in federal court. The trial court determined that the approved JD was not a final agency action subject to judicial review. The plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which reversed. The Corps petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Roberts, C.J.)

Concurrence (Ginsburg, J.)

Concurrence (Kagan, J.)

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