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Tuesday, February 8 2005

Wetlands and property

One of the issues that comes up when dealing with wetlands is the question of landowner rights. Environmental laws that protect wetlands are often labeled as being intrusions into the rights of the property holder.

On the other hand, laws that protect downstream property rights for surface waters are established and more or less unquestioned. No one really argues that landowners should have the right to build dams where ever they want with no regulation, or that surface water diversion rights should be unregulated.

Laws that protect wetlands perform the exact same function - they protect the quantity and quality of water available for the downstream user.

Here’s one excellent example of the value that wetlands provide: the erosion of coastal wetlands in Louisiana. As it turns out, this isn’t just a crisis for the state’s wildlife and for the Gulf of Mexico - it also turns out that the loss of coastal barrier wetlands is endangering the state’s oil and gas industry. Flood control is one of the more important economic functions of wetlands areas.

To the Pacific Legal Foundation, that’s not a good enough reason to have a law. The PLF is going to attempt to get a Supreme Court ruling to get a Michigan man off the hook for his chronic violations of the Clean Water Act. This is the Foundation’s second attempt; the Court refused to intervene last year. Hopefully, they’ll do so again this year, as their SWANCC decision has already created enough problems as it is.

+ Dan @ 04:13pm

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