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Lemire v. State

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20196
Nos. 87703-3, (Sup. Ct. Wash., 08/15/2013)

The Supreme Court of Washington upheld an administrative order the state environmental agency issued to a farmer, directing him to take several steps to curb pollution of a creek that runs through his property. A lower court invalidated the order, ruling that it was unsupported by substantial evidence and constituted a taking. But substantial evidence shows that conditions on the farmer's ranch have substantial potential to violate the state Water Pollution Control Act (WPCA). In addition, the agency is authorized to issue orders remedying not only actual violations of the WPCA, but also those activities that have a substantial potential to violate the Act. State law also gives the agency authority to regulate nonpoint source pollutants, and the order was not contrary to state statutes prohibiting impairment of water rights and conversion of agricultural land. And there is no factual basis for finding a taking, as the farmer failed to prove that he has suffered any economic loss, let alone an economic loss that constitutes a taking. The court, therefore, reinstated the order.