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Old 03-21-2012, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Lakeside
5,266 posts, read 8,740,786 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Badland wonder View Post
It was classified as a wetlands only after the people had bought the land. legally, and after they had worked on the land. At some point, somehow, the EPA became involved and stomped on their right to own their land and build their home. Have heard arguments about the Keystone Pipeline saying that peoples land would be taken (though in that case they get money for having a pipeline cross their land) and how unfair that would be. What is the difference in this situation?

No it wasn't. Do more research. The Army Corps of Engineers had already told Chantelle Sackett that it was wetlands. When we decided to buy our place here, teh first thing we did was have the ACE tell us where the wetlands are so we knew we could build. When you buy land, it's up to the buyer to find out what it's classification is. Again, everyone here knows there is no way the Sackett's didn't know what they were dealing with.
Interestingly, the picture in the article isn't even of the Sackett's land. It's the Barron's land....a different case altogether
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:28 PM
 
Location: Humboldt Park, Chicago
3,502 posts, read 3,133,399 times
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Seems to me that the Supreme Court got it right.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:31 PM
 
13,684 posts, read 9,005,080 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carterstamp View Post
Looks like SCOTUS said they could bring a civil action against the EPA...right?
Correct! The Court did not reach the merits of the case (i.e., about the wetlands issue, etc). It did rule that when the EPA issued its compliance order to the Sacketts, said Sacketts could file suit in a Federal District Court against the EPA to argue the merits of the case. Part of the argument is about 'administrative finality', which I had to spend several miserable weeks studying back in law school. Essentially, one cannot sue a government agency over some action until all administrative (i.e., agency) appeals have been 'exhausted'.

However, the EPA was taking a position that the Sackett's had not exhausted all administrative appeals, since they (EPA) and the Sacketts could still have 'friendly' discussions over the issue (or some such crap). As Justice Scalia pointed out, by the EPA's argument the Sacketts would never face 'administrative finality'.

Such as in Social Security: you file for disability benefits in a State DDS office. The State denies your claim. You appeal to the State. The State again denies. You then file appeal with an ALJ with Social Security. The ALJ denies. You then must appeal to the Appeals Council. Only after the AC has denied, may you file suit in Federal District Court.

However, the EPA rules (combined with other regulations) made it very, very hard to determine when all appeals had been exhausted. Good decision.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:31 PM
 
45,210 posts, read 26,424,445 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noexcuseforignorance View Post
Been to industrial areas of China lately? There's a reason why the EPA exists. Go google China pollution pictures and you'll see why.

In terms of the ruling in question, it says that the EPA has to setup an appeal process, not that these people will still get to fill in wetlands. It's unfortunate the home owner didn't do their due diligence before trying to develop the land.
You speak as though the EPA is separate entity outside the interests of our own government and its cronies.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Lakeside
5,266 posts, read 8,740,786 times
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Pity the Sacketts? Not much - High Country News

Pity the Sacketts? Not much

by Judith Lewis Mernit
It's hard not to feel for Mike and Chantell Sackett, the Idaho couple who saw their plans for a dream home on a remote Idaho lake kiboshed by the EPA in 2007. In early January, when their case against the federal agency went before the U.S. Supreme Court, their lawyer, Damien Schiff, told a story of shock and deprivation, one designed to terrify independent dream-home builders nationwide.
"They have been injured by the EPA," he argued. The agency's "arbitrary and capricious" decision-making has "turned their world upside down."
But the Sacketts aren't the only ones whose dreams are at stake here. Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency should also worry another set of Westerners: People whose livelihoods depend on tourists who come to their national forests to fish, relax or otherwise enjoy clean water and public land that is still untrammeled by development. Because as the case plays out in the courts and the news, EPA officials seem increasingly distanced from the people whose natural resources they're charged with protecting.
Even if the nine justices uphold two lower court opinions and throw the Sacketts' case out, the agency and its staff will probably still look like the bullies Chantell Sackett says they are -- or worse, as Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch diplomatically puts it -- the "Gestapo."
According to the Sacketts, people in their employ were dredging away on the new lot, 500 feet from the shore of Priest Lake, when three EPA representatives turned up and ordered them to stop: The workers, they said, were destroying a wetland protected by federal law. The EPA then sent the Sacketts a "compliance order" threatening up to $75,000 per day in fines.
The Sacketts lost the $23,000 they invested in their land and their plans were crushed. Worse, they couldn't dispute the wetland designation in court, because a mere compliance order, however threatening, isn't open to such challenges. For that, you have to wait until the feds are about to throw you in jail.
So the Sacketts, with free help from the Pacific Legal Foundation, sued the EPA not over whether their land contains wetlands, but over their due-process right to plead their case before a judge. Attorney Schiff, whose firm lives to dismantle environmental law in the name of property rights, effectively portrayed the Sacketts as a helpless couple trapped in a no-man's land between the permit-granting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the bullying EPA, confused and misled about what the term "wetland" even means.
The EPA's lawyer, on the other hand, plunged the court into such a thicket of legalese that little useful information emerged unscathed. "We believe that the following steps are necessary in order to achieve perspective compliance with the act, and if you don't do these things you will be subject to the following penalties because you will then be in violation of the act and you will be subject to the penalties," U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart argued.
To which Chief Justice John Roberts appropriately replied, "I didn't follow that."
But the Sacketts don't really deserve the sympathy they're getting. A timeline Chantell Sackett created for the Army Corps of Engineers reveals that she and her husband knew early on that they were building on a wetland. The Sacketts run an excavation and construction business; the law should not have been a mystery to them. Even the local golf course brags about its stunning wetlands.
Nor did the EPA officials show up at the Sackett lot unbidden; they were responding to a complaint from a local resident. Some area residents are battling against a 14-lot subdivision planned for the north end of Priest Lake, which is also a refuge for threatened bull trout in the Kaniksu National Forest.
That forest also supports both black and grizzly bears, along with wolves, elk and caribou. Those creatures might be mere trivialities to the Sacketts, who in an interview with a sneering right-wing radio host shrugged that they see no wildlife save the occasional desultory deer. But many of their fellow residents, including some humans, feel differently. And they have property rights, too.

Those rights are hardly helped, however, by the EPA's clumsy communication and apparent institutional hostility to the press -- or to any kind of good storytelling, even before the nation's highest court.
Forty years ago, Congress wrote the Clean Water Act with the clear understanding that individuals alone can't protect the clean lakes and streams upon which they depend. Enforcing that law certainly includes restraining developers big and small who might carelessly pollute our waterways. But unless someone in the Obama administration steps up to tell that story -- to explain that the EPA is in fact an agent of the people, acting on our behalf -- these kinds of little-guy-faces-down-the-feds scenarios will continue to dominate the discussion over how best to protect our water, air and wilderness. The forces that want to eliminate those protections altogether will prevail. And we'll all lose.
Judith Mernit Lewis is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org). She is a contributing editor for High Country News and lives in Venice, California.
© High Country News
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:35 PM
 
13,684 posts, read 9,005,080 times
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Misty, that all may well be. However, the Court was not reaching the merits. The Sacketts may now go to a trial court and prove their case; they may lose, of course. The issue, to me, is that justice would have been well served if they could have filed years ago, and gotten some type of resolution.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Lakeside
5,266 posts, read 8,740,786 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legalsea View Post
Misty, that all may well be. However, the Court was not reaching the merits. The Sacketts may now go to a trial court and prove their case; they may lose, of course. The issue, to me, is that justice would have been well served if they could have filed years ago, and gotten some type of resolution.

I do agree with you. But I have to say...the Sackett's just really tick me off. And a lot of other local people. This lake is a pristine gem and no one really wants to see it ruined by stupid development.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:40 PM
 
Location: North America
19,784 posts, read 15,106,655 times
Reputation: 8527
Quote:
Originally Posted by legalsea View Post
Correct! The Court did not reach the merits of the case (i.e., about the wetlands issue, etc). It did rule that when the EPA issued its compliance order to the Sacketts, said Sacketts could file suit in a Federal District Court against the EPA to argue the merits of the case. Part of the argument is about 'administrative finality', which I had to spend several miserable weeks studying back in law school. Essentially, one cannot sue a government agency over some action until all administrative (i.e., agency) appeals have been 'exhausted'.

However, the EPA was taking a position that the Sackett's had not exhausted all administrative appeals, since they (EPA) and the Sacketts could still have 'friendly' discussions over the issue (or some such crap). As Justice Scalia pointed out, by the EPA's argument the Sacketts would never face 'administrative finality'.

Such as in Social Security: you file for disability benefits in a State DDS office. The State denies your claim. You appeal to the State. The State again denies. You then file appeal with an ALJ with Social Security. The ALJ denies. You then must appeal to the Appeals Council. Only after the AC has denied, may you file suit in Federal District Court.

However, the EPA rules (combined with other regulations) made it very, very hard to determine when all appeals had been exhausted. Good decision.
People should have legal recourse..So, yes, good decision.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:45 PM
 
13,684 posts, read 9,005,080 times
Reputation: 10405
Quote:
Originally Posted by mistyriverranch View Post
I do agree with you. But I have to say...the Sackett's just really tick me off. And a lot of other local people. This lake is a pristine gem and no one really wants to see it ruined by stupid development.
I admit, the Sacketts have caused me a lot of grief over the years.

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Old 03-21-2012, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Lakeside
5,266 posts, read 8,740,786 times
Reputation: 5692
Quote:
Originally Posted by legalsea View Post
I admit, the Sacketts have caused me a lot of grief over the years.

If only the Priest Lake Sackett's were half as appealing.
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