Another chapter has closed in developer John Rapanos’ long legal battles over federal wetlands jurisdiction. In a settlement announced on Dec. 29 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Dept., Rapanos and other defendants agreed to pay a $150,000 civil penalty and spend about $750,000 to re-create about 100 acres of wetlands and buffer areas at three Michigan sites. Federal officials say Rapanos put excavated dirt into wetlands with-out Clean Water Act authorization. Rapanos and co-defendants did not admit any wrongdoing. A related criminal case is pending.
Rapanos had sued, arguing the Clean Water law did not cover the wetlands. The case reached the Supreme Court, but its 2006 ruling did not settle debate over the scope of federal wetlands authority.