Back in 2005, Mike and Chantell Sackett purchased a piece of property near Priest Lake, Idaho for $23,000. Two years ago, they decided to build a home on their property and that’s when their nightmare began. They prepared the land for the build by filling it in with dirt and rock. Suddenly officials from the EPA showed up and asked them if they had a permit to fill in wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Of course, the Sacketts did not have such permit, because they were not aware that they needed one, being as their property is in an established neighborhood with water and sewer hookups. They obtained all the necessary permits to build their home. EPA officials told them to get rid of the dirt and rocks and plant trees and bushes or face potential fines of $37,500 a day for non-compliance.
The Sacketts are being represented free of charge by the Pacific Legal Foundation who believes that the couple deserves to be able to challenge the EPA’s compliance order. The EPA is saying that they haven’t given an order to the couple but a warning. If the couple were to ignore this “warning” then the EPA would go to court to attempt to get an enforcement of the order. An Idaho based trial judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have sided with the EPA. Their reasoning is that the couple can’t yet challenge the EPA, because there has been no order of enforcement. The Sacketts would have to go ahead and build and then bring hell and enormous fines on themselves before they can challenge the EPA’s compliannce order. It’s essentially a Catch 22.
Chief Justice John Roberts said this…”Because of the administrative compliance order, you’re really never going to be put to the test, because most land owners aren’t going to say, `I’m going to risk the $37,000 a day,” Roberts said. “All EPA has to do is make whatever finding it wants, and realize that in 99 percent of the cases, it’s never going to be put to the test.”
It seems that the EPA can just say anything is a wetland that is sometimes actually “wet.” Hell, every time there is a gushing downpour where I live, my backyard turns in to a swamp. How do I know that some EPA jackass won’t show up and declare the property my house is on a “wetland” and it must be torn down and made into a bird and small critter sanctuary. I wish the Sacketts well and hope they win their case. The EPA has definitely done some good things but this isn’t one of them. I think it is utter bullshit, and if people don’t stand up against this, this kind of thing will continue to happen.