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Limits Placed on Army Corps’ Control of Remote Wetlands

On June 19, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision, refusing to expand the authority of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to regulate man-made ditches and remote wetlands. Calling the decision &quotone of the most significant environmental-related cases in recent years,&quot the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) said that if the Court had granted additional power to the federal agency, it could have led to even greater delays on transportation projects.

In a split decision of the consolidated cases of Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Court ruled that the Corps may have over-extended its authority under the Clean Water Act by exerting jurisdiction over wetland areas with remote connections to &quotnavigable waters.&quot

The ARTBA argued in court briefings last year that these cases could either greatly expand or sensibly limit the authority of the Corps to issue permits for transportation construction projects. The organization also argued that state departments of transportation and local communities could have been effectively removed from project-related decisions if the Corps was given more regulatory power.