Supreme Court slaps down the EPA

Jim spoke about this March 21 decision of the United States Supreme Court on his show today, and I thought you might like to read it.

Here are the facts:

The Sacketts… own a  residential lot in Bonner County, Idaho. Their property lies just north of Priest Lake, but is separated from the lake by several lots containing permanent structures. In preparation for constructing a house,the Sacketts filled in part of their lot with dirt and rock. Some months later, they received from the EPA a compliance order. The order contained a number of “Findings and Conclusions,” …

On the basis of these findings and conclusions, the order directs the Sacketts, among other things, “immediately[to] undertake activities to restore the Site in accordancewith [an EPA-created] Restoration Work Plan” and to “provide and/or obtain access to the Site . . . [and] access to all records and documentation related to the conditions at the Site . . . to EPA employees and/or their designated representatives.” [at pages 5 and 6 of the PDF version]

The EPA added that they would be fined some $37,500 per day if they failed to comply. 

The Sacketts tried to appeal the EPA’s “wetlands” finding, as there were no “wetlands” on the property but the district court and the circuit court of appeals threw the case out on the grounds that the Sacketts could not do so until the EPA actually took action to enforce the compliance order, which the EPA had not done.

So, there they sat.  They could not proceed with construction, but they could not challenge the EPA’s findings until, if ever, the EPA tried to enforce the findings.

Here is what Justice Alito said during oral arguments before the Supreme Court:

If you related the facts of this case as they come to us to an ordinary homeowner, don’t you think most ordinary homeowners would say this kind of thing can’t happen in the United States?

Thanks to the Supreme Court, that kind of thing can no longer happen in the United States.  The case was sent back to the trial court so that the Sacketts can now at least receive a judicial determination about the validity of the EPA’s findings, and, perhaps complete construction of a home they started to build some 5 years ago.


14 replies
  1. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Thank you Supreme Court!? Thank You Sos for letting us know about this…we are in very scary times…You & Jim are in my prayers..

    • Open4FreeDebate
      Open4FreeDebate says:

      And who will keep people from?polluting?air and water? Do you believe the Earth is here for all christians to?plunder, pollute and leave behind to the sinners after the rapture??Just normal weather cycles?

      • Lynn
        Lynn says:

        HA, HA, We will Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Native Americans, Hindus etc. How funny that you think only Christians plunder and pollute the earth.? WE can do much better at this job on the local level (see my post below), or at least the state. We do not need a Federal bureaucracy to plunder our tax money and fail miserably at their job. LOL Big Government has NOT solved any of the problems that face us yet. Why continue the experiment?

  2. Tim-in-Alabama
    Tim-in-Alabama says:

    This is a small victory, but at least it is one. Now the EPA will use its taxpayer money to drag out any lawsuits ?because taxpayers can’t afford the legal bills. This really represents a huge problem with Congress as well. Congress writes laws and gives the bureaucracy “fill in the blanks” authority for the regulatory language. This is also demonstrated by Obamacare. Environmental fanatics have an advantage in this area. They lobby Congress and the bureaucrats to get laws and regulations written in their favor, and then they have the deep pockets to tie up anyone they oppose in the kangaroo courts. After all, everyone loves clean water and baby polar bears.

  3. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    The EPA said the land was “wetland”, the Sacketts questioned that. Now they can have a hearing to contest the EPA’s designation. But the definition of what constitutes a “wetland” is still up to Congress and the EPA.

    • PatRiot
      PatRiot says:

      – In good conscious, the EPA should have been able to respond in a timely fashion – not in 5 years and a legal struggle.?
      – What constitutes a wetland????????? 1. My family built a house in New Haven.? The lot never had a puddle on it after the rain and sat 1 full block from Kimberly Ave/ rt 10 – which is lined by businesses.?? Then there is the marsh, the river/ canal and a dump on the other side.??We still?had to get a wetlands permit – really ? ! ?.
      2. The road that runs in from of the Dinosaur museum in Rocky Hill had to cross a wetland.? Urban legend claims?that Governor Weicker (I – former R) said ” If there is 10 acres of wetlands here and we need to cross it, designate 10 acres somewhere else as wetlands so there is no net loss.”

      • PatRiot
        PatRiot says:

        – And the last time any session of Congress was able to do simple math and balance thier checkbook was…..?
        – And the the EPA?says it is O.K.?to “frack” for natural gas.? Hmmm – Let’s pipe known cancer causing chemicals (hydrochloric acid?& methanol,etc)?THROUGH the ground water. Then use it to break up the shale to release the natural gas causing all of that mess to percolate UP !? That is environmental protection???
        – Politicians and lawyers will change definitions as they see fit, sparing no expense, especially yours and mine.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Many of the definitions are arbitrary and politically convenient (as a former Conservation Commissioner, I know).? The permit issuance is largely about collecting money and controlling so called private property.

  4. Moe
    Moe says:

    For the EPA to send the Sacketts a compliance order such as this one, with the accompanying? fine of? $37,500.00 per day, was sadistic. I can’t imagine the horror they went through when they first read the order.?Five years later, and they’re still not completely out of the woods. ?I guess wetbrains see wetlands wherever they look, and probably pink elephants, too.

  5. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Frankly, I don’t get the whole thing here. In CT, there is a written and clear definition of what constitutes? a wetland ie type of soil, type of plants that grow etc. There are local wetland commissions who test to see, if a property is? a wetland BEFORE any building takes place. There is a heavy fine, if anyone fills in wetland as determined by the definition. Point is, all is determined by Local commissions, which in CT are always backed by the state. Do you mean to tell me, that CT is actually living up to it’s name “The Constitution State”! Holy Cow!

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