Last Updated:April 18 @ 08:52 pm

Court sides with property owners over EPA

By AP Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has sided with an Idaho couple in a property rights case, ruling they can go to court to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency order that blocked construction of their new home and threatened fines of more than $30,000 a day.

Wednesday's decision is a victory for Mike and Chantell Sackett, whose property near a scenic lake has sat undisturbed since the EPA ordered a halt in work in 2007. The agency said part of the property was a wetlands that could not disturbed without a permit.

In an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court rejected EPA's argument that allowing property owners quick access to courts to contest orders like the one issued to the Sacketts would compromise the agency's ability to deal with water pollution.

"Compliance orders will remain an effective means of securing prompt voluntary compliance in those many cases where there is no substantial basis to question their validity," Scalia said.

In this case, the couple objected to the determination that their small lot contained wetlands that are regulated by the Clean Water Act, and they complained there was no reasonable way to challenge the order without risking fines that can mount quickly.

The EPA issues nearly 3,000 administrative compliance orders a year that call on alleged violators of environmental laws to stop what they're doing and repair the harm they've caused. Major business groups, homebuilders, road builders and agricultural interests all have joined the Sacketts in urging the court to make it easier to contest EPA compliance orders issued under several environmental laws.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a separate opinion that the only issue decided by the court Wednesday is the Sacketts' ability to contest the EPA finding that their property is subject to the Clean Water Act. The court did not decide largers issues, Ginsburg said.

"On that understanding, I join the court's opinion," she said.

In another separate opinion, Justice Samuel Alito called on Congress to clear up confusion over the reach of the Clean Water Act. Alito said that federal regulators could assert authority over any property that is wet for even part of the year, not just rivers and streams.

The court's opinion "is better than nothing, but only clarification of the reach of the Clean Water Act can rectify the underlying problem," Alito said.

In 2005, the Sacketts paid $23,000 for a .63-acre lot near scenic Priest Lake. They decided to start building a modest, three-bedroom home early in 2007.

They had filled part of the property with rocks and soil, in preparation for construction, when federal officials showed up and ordered a halt in the work.

In a statement, the Sacketts praised the court for "affirming that we have rights, and that the EPA is not a law unto itself."

The case is Sackett v. EPA, 10-1062.

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rate this post:
Rating: 10.0/10 (37 votes cast)
Court sides with property owners over EPA, 10.0 out of 10 based on 37 ratings





Don't leave yet! Add a comment below or check out these other great stories:

6 Comments

  1. downdraftComment by downdraft
    March 21, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    This is beginning to look like the America I used to know…when Government was out of your face.

    Also, American property holders are constantly looking over their shoulders to see if “Uncle Liberal Government” is following them…for fear their property will be confiscated as public domain for building a large hotel, a road to no where, or anything the politician’s contributor has in m mind.

    If we only had more on the bench like Scalia…but we will, we will.

    VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
    Rate this comment:
    Rating: 4.8/5 (23 votes cast)
  2. RME KRNLComment by RME KRNL
    March 21, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

    I’m glad these people won against the EPA, but what about all the money they had to spend doing it? Too bad those inept bureaucrats at EPA can’t be sued for restitution. Now, that would really be justice.

    VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
    Rate this comment:
    Rating: 5.0/5 (19 votes cast)
  3. Dingbat36Comment by Dingbat36
    March 21, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

    The absolute wonder here is that with a slight objection to what was not part of the case, Bader Ginsberg actually joined the majority opinion.

    VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
    Rate this comment:
    Rating: 4.6/5 (11 votes cast)
  4. wdjincComment by wdjinc
    March 21, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

    The EPA must be eliminated. They are a hindrance to energy and manufacturing. They would stop a major project to save a bird.

    VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
    Rate this comment:
    Rating: 4.7/5 (14 votes cast)
  5. CharlieComment by vietnamvet
    March 21, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

    “The EPA must be eliminated. They are a hindrance to energy and manufacturing. They would stop a major project to save a bird.”

    Even worse. They would destroy industry to protect a harmful bird simply because it’s the host for an endangered bloodsucking louse.

    VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
    Rate this comment:
    Rating: 4.7/5 (13 votes cast)
  6. notforsaleComment by notforsale
    March 21, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

    “In another separate opinion, Justice Samuel Alito called on Congress to clear up confusion over the reach of the Clean Water Act. Alito said that federal regulators could assert authority over any property that is wet for even part of the year, not just rivers and streams.”

    Now, we need to start a campaign (writing our representatives in Congress) to actually CLEAR UP CONFUSION! Look how long this took – and, in my opinion – this is not settled. Since the EPA will never be eliminated – the actions of the UNELECTED must be severly limited! In the mean time – PRAY FOR OUR COUNTRY.

    VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
    Rate this comment:
    Rating: 5.0/5 (8 votes cast)

Leave a Comment





News Archives

  • April 2014
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • Reference Pages

  • About
  • Network-wide options by YD - Freelance Wordpress Developer