March 23, 2012

NO ONE DISAGREES, BUT THE EPA:

Supreme Court sides with Idaho landowners against EPA (Bettina Boxall and David G. Savage, 3/23/12, Los Angeles Times)

The Supreme Court strengthened the rights of property owners who are confronted by federal environmental regulators, ruling Wednesday that landowners are entitled to a hearing to challenge the government's threats to fine them for alleged Clean Water Act violations. [...]

Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau said that he doubted the opinion would have much effect on Clean Water Act enforcement because it applied to "an extremely narrow range of cases" and that most people in similar situations complied with the agency orders.

"I think the court was certainly very concerned that EPA was telling people they had to ... pay all these fines but also saying, we're not going to tell you when, if ever, you're going to get a day in court," Parenteau said. "I think the court was right to call the EPA on that."

The Sacketts bought a parcel of less than an acre in 2005, intending to build a three-bedroom house. The lot is in a residential area near Priest Lake, and other houses had been constructed between their land and the lake. They obtained a county permit and trucked in dirt and gravel fill. A few months later the EPA informed them that their property contained wetlands and said they had violated clean water regulations.


The proper line of argument is that designating the property as a wetlands constitutes a taking for public use and, therefore, the owners are entitled to just compensation.  The EPA can clean it up and the owners can buy a new lot.


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Posted by at March 23, 2012 9:48 PM
  

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