ENDING EPA’S TERRORIZING OF LANDOWNERS

There were a number of examples of how the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers abused their power to trample on the rights of homeowners.

One example is when Peter and Frankie Smith purchased 20-acres of desert land outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of the dry desert washes that ran through their property was filled with trash, so the Smiths cleaned up the trash. That’s when the big bad Army Corps of Engineers moved in and told them that wash was a ‘water of the United States’ and that their cleaning and smoothing of the wash constituted illegal dredging and pollution flow problems that could affect the Rio Grande River, some 25 miles away. By having the wash declared a water of the United States the Smiths were now subject to the rules and regulations of the Clean Water Act, which they were now in violation of according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Then there is the case of Mike and Chantell Sackett, who purchased about two-thirds of acre in a new development. Their first task was to bring in loads of fill dirt and have the lot leveled so they could build their home on the lot. Before they could start building, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers showed up on the site and ordered the couple to halt all activity. It turns out the agencies suddenly declared the land in the new subdivision was a wetland.  Six months later they received a compliance order from the EPA informing them that the lot was a wetland and that they had to restore it back to its natural condition. If they did not comply with the order, the EPA notice said that they could be fined up to $37,500 per day.

The Sacketts tried to appeal the order but were told by the EPA that decisions involving wetlands are not open to appeal. They took their case to the courts and all of the courts up to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that landowners had no right to appeal an EPA order involving wetlands until fines have been assessed. The case then went to the US Supreme Court who just released their ruling on the case.

In the majority decision, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the Sacketts should have the right to file a civil suit against the EPA under the Administrative Procedures Act since the EPA order is a final one and that the couple were facing the huge fines. He also wrote that the Clean Water Act, which is what the EPA was using to force the Sacketts to restore their property back to the original condition, is not exempt from judicial review.

Read the rest at: TrumpsEpa

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