TITLE

Forcing Adaptation through the Rivers and Harbors Act

AUTHOR(S)
Rindner, Leah
PUB. DATE
May 2011
SOURCE
Ecology Law Quarterly;2011, Vol. 38 Issue 2, p341
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Congress enacted the Rivers and Harbors Act in 1899 to ensure free and open navigability across the nation's waterways. Administered by the Corps of Engineers, the Act has not received much attention from legal scholars. In particular, few scholars have analyzed the Act as a means of providing environmental protection. The Ninth Circuit's decision in United States v. Mimer, however, suggests that the Rivers and Harbors Act has significant potential to address environmental challenges created by sea level rise. In Mimer, the Ninth Circuit ruled that six coastal property owners had violated the Act because they refused to remove structures intended to protect their homes from erosion by rising sea levels. The structures were originally erected lawfully on the homeowners' property, but once the sea rose to the point where it intersected with the structures, they obstructed navigability of open waters, in violation of the Act. This Note argues that Mimer provides a means by which private property owners can be forced to adapt to the inevitable changes of sea level rise. The Rivers and Harbors Act, as implemented in Mimer, allows the government to regulate private property in furtherance of environmental protection while withstanding challenges by property owners.
ACCESSION #
66612350

 

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