March 21, 2012
Remember this case?
In 2005 Mike and Chantell Sackett purchased a vacant lot in a fully built-out portion of property along the shores of Priest Lake, in northern Idaho, with the ideas of building a modest 3-bedroom home. In 2007, they started work, but were forced to stop when the EPA claimed they were filling a wetland without a permit.
Today the Supreme Court unanimously reversed a lower court opinion that prevented the Sackett’s from challenging the EPA in its order to stop preparing their land for building and to restore the property to its original condition. The EPA claimed this power under the Clean Water Act and told the couple that the fine for noncompliance could be as high as s 75,000 per day.
All the Sackett’s have won really is the right to take the EPA to court and challenge their claims but that is a start.
The Washington Post reports;
“There is no reason to think that the Clean Water Act was uniquely designed to enable the strong-arming of regulated parties into ‘voluntary compliance’ without the opportunity for review–even judicial review of the question whether the regulated party is within the EPA’s jurisdiction,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia. read more
(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that landowners may bring a civil lawsuit challenging a federal government order under the clean water law, a decision that sides with corporate groups and sharply curtails a key Environmental Protection Agency power.