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Minnesota v. Hoffman

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20066
Nos. No. 75-1869, 543 F.2d 1198/9 ERC 1353/(8th Cir., 10/28/1976) Rev'd

Reversing the lower court in a matter of first impression, the court holds that Minnesota has no authority to regulate Corps of Engineers dredging operations in navigable waters within the state. The lower court held that the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System established by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) Amendments of 1972 granted to Minnesota the authority to require the Corps to comply with state pollution abatement requirements including obtaining a state discharge permit. In addition, Minnesota argues that §§313 and 510 of the FWPCA require federal agencies to comply with state laws regarding pollution control and abatement. Under the Supreme Court's recent holding in State Water Resources Control Board v. EPA, 6 ELR 20563, the lower court's ruling must be reversed. Congress did not intend a subordination of federal authority to the states in this matter. The Supremacy Clause provides the initial constitutional response to Minnesota's contention. More critical in the court's view, however, is the statutory scheme established in the FWPCA §404. The legislative history of this section and the provisions of §402 demonstrate that the Act gives exclusive responsibility to the Corps for dredge and fill operations in navigable waters. Finally, the court notes with approval the concern for environmental values reflected in Corps regulations dealing with the disposal of dredged materials.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee
Warren R. Spannaus, Attorney General
Richard B. Allyn, Solicitor General
William P. Donohue
Eldon G. Kaul Asst. Attorneys General
102 State Capitol
St. Paul MN 55155
(612) 296-6196

Counsel for Defendants-Appellants
Peter R. Taft, Asst. Attorney General
Larry Boggs
Edmund B. Clark
Michael D. Graves
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Bright and Webster, JJ., concur.