- Feb 13, 2005
- Reaction score
- Wildwood New Jersey
he U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that landowners can sue to challenge a federal government compliance order under the clean water law, a decision that sides with corporate groups and puts new limits on a key Environmental Protection Agency power.
The justices unanimously rejected the U.S. government's position that individuals or companies must first fail to comply with an EPA order and face potentially costly enforcement action before a court can review the case.
The opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia was a victory for an Idaho couple who challenged a 2007 EPA order that required them to restore a wetland they had filled with dirt and rock as they began to build a new vacation home near Priest Lake. They were also told to stop construction on the home.
The couple, Chantell and Michael Sackett, denied their property had ever contained a wetland and complained they were being forced to comply with an order without a court hearing.
The Supreme Court's ruling comes at a time when the EPA has faced fierce criticism from many Republicans in Congress who say it has issued the most ambitious clean air regulations in decades and has become heavy-handed in enforcement actions.
Scalia said that the Sacketts would not get an adequate remedy if they had to apply to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit and then file suit if that permit was denied.
He said the Clean Water Act was not "uniquely designed to enable the strong-arming of regulated parties into 'voluntary compliance' without the opportunity for judicial review."
Scalia concluded the 10-page opinion by saying the EPA's orders will remain an effective way to secure prompt, voluntary compliance in the many cases when there was no substantial basis to question their validity.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote a short separate opinion concurring in the outcome. He said allowing property owners to sue was better than nothing, but urged Congress to adopt new legislation clarifying the reach of the Clean Water Act.
while no one is for intentional pollution..
the limits of the EPA need to be defined.. they have gotten way out of control...