View Full Version : EPA Gets Epic Smackdown from Supreme Court

03-22-2012, 10:17 AM
When Mike and Chantell Sackett bought land in Idaho zoned for residential construction and acquired the necessary permits for building a home, they believed their dream of owning a custom-made house would become a reality. Instead, the EPA sent the Sacketts into a five-year nightmare of regulatory war over the supposed status of their lot as a wetland, and demanded that the Sacketts entirely undo their work on the land to comply with the Clean Water Act.
The Sacketts tried to appeal but were threatened with fines of up to $37,500 per day, and when they tried to go to court to appeal that, they discovered that the EPA had to allow them to go to court. The Sacketts sued in federal court, and yesterday finally prevailed in a unanimous Supreme Court decision that has far-reaching implications for the EPA (http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/02/16/EPA-Defends-Regulations-with-Obamas-Support.aspx#page1http://)and overreaching government intrusion.
The EPA tried its best to keep the federal courts out of the dispute and the Sacketts in limbo, in part by claiming that the agency had not committed a “final agency action,” which would allow the Sacketts to file suit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the aegis under which the case proceeded to the Supreme Court. The EPA argued that, at some undefined point in time, they might reconsider their demand to the Sacketts for compliance, even though the Sacketts risked double fines (up to $70,000per day) for not reversing their work on the land.
Justice Antonin Scalia scoffed at the argument in the decision (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1062.pdf) writing that “the mere possibility that an agency might reconsider in light of “informal discussion” and invited contentions of inaccuracy does not suffice to make an otherwise final agency action nonfinal.” Read more: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2012/03/22/EPA-Gets-Epic-Smackdown-From-Supreme-Court.aspx#page1

03-22-2012, 12:18 PM
yet another preview of obamacare...

03-22-2012, 12:30 PM
It's good that the Court ruled in such a manner. It's also simplistic to portray this as something entirely frivolous. The EPA has gotten out of control before on this wetlands thing, but it's important to remember that the wetlands laws and rules aren't there like the Sierra Club crap to keep waverunners out of northern lakes or some bullshit like that. The Chesapeake Bay (and it is always THE Chesapeake Bay) was in serious peril because of "private property rights" literally spilling over into our commonly held natural resources. There was and is a trench of nasty chemical and metal waste near Baltimore, and severe damage to the ecosystem on the entire shoreline due to farming techniques, golf courses, and the residential rush for waterfront (even mosquito and green fly front) property by Washington and Philadephia suburbanites.

And the government went too far. But those people out there in those sailboats, and the people in their waterfront homes, and the people with kids fishing and crabbing who want to eat those fish and crabs, and the people who braved the water for a living- all of those people are not crazy liberal ecofanatics. They are people who wanted to use a healthy estuary. That included the Maryland and Virginia farm families, some of whom got cited because marine vegetation dared to grown in the winter on land that had been in farming for 400 years. And it went to court and got resolved.

Don't philosophically throw the baby out with the bathwater. There was and is a problem, even if this one piece of land isn't really part of it, and these people certainly didn't have to be put through all of this. I would say that the solution would be a quick remedy court provision, so that at the first "No" from the EPA you can go for a shut-out ruling.