The Supreme Court in April rejected three cases that sought to restrict the government’s authority to regulate wetlands by turning back appeals involving disputes over lands in Maryland and Virginia that are part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and refusing to hear the case of a Michigan man facing prison for destroying wetlands.
Developers, farm groups and other argued that federal regulators have gone too far by blocking the development of property that is miles away from any river or waterway.
The lawyer for the companies trying to develop wetlands in Newport News, VA, said that an appeals court ruling against them extends the Clean Water Act “to the top of every mountain and the end of every street in the country.”
The Maryland case involved a couple who dug a ditch on their property in Wicomico County without getting government permission first.
Bush administration lawyer Theodore Olson said that the government needs to be able to protect waterways like the Bay, which can be affected by work on property many miles away.
John A. Rapanos, of Michigan, was convicted of violating the Clean Water Act for filling wetlands in Bay County’s Williams Township with sand to make it ready for development.