Property owners now have at least some legal recourse when the Environmental Protection Agency comes calling with a compliance order, thanks to a big win at the Supreme Court by the Pacific Legal Foundation. In 2005, the EPA told Mike and Chantrell Sackett they couldn’t build on their two-thirds of an acre in
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court said:
In a nation that values due process, not to mention private property, such treatment is unthinkable.
The Court’s decision provides a modest measure of relief. At least, property owners like petitioners will have the right to challenge the EPA’s jurisdictional determination under the Administrative Procedure Act. But the combination of the uncertain reach of the Clean Water Act and the draconian penalties imposed for the sort of violations alleged in this case still leaves most property owners with little practical alternative but to dance to the EPA’s tune.
Real relief requires Congress to do what it should have done in the first place: provide a reasonably clear rule regarding the reach of the Clean Water Act.
The ruling was unanimous.