Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Just in from Washington

Two Supreme Court Cases Relevant to Farmers, Ranchers

The Supreme Court began its new term on Monday and two cases on the docket have a direct relevance to U.S. agriculture, according to Danielle Quist, AFBF legal counsel. The first case is Sackett v. EPA. The second case is PPL Montana v. Montana.

Sackett v. EPA is an Idaho case where the Environmental Protection Agency told Mike and Chantell Sackett to stop building their new house and return the land to its original state or face possible jail time and more than $30,000 in fines per day under the Clean Water Act.

“The Sacketts asked for a hearing because they disagreed with EPA’s grounds for asserting federal jurisdiction over their private land and EPA said no,” Quist said. “They sued EPA and the courts told them that they didn’t have the ability to ask a court for review. They were not allowed their day in court. EPA would control when they had their day in court.”

In PPL Montana v. Montana, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the riverbeds were actually owned by the state of Montana and not by the private landowners. Quist said this is an important case for farmers and ranchers because in many states, riverbed ownership determines riparian and sometimes prior appropriation of water rights.

AFBF Newsline

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