Case ignites conservative ire over EPA

Let’s say, rather, the wetlands case to go before the Supreme Court this month has added fuel to the fire.

The Washington Post reports:

PRIEST LAKE, Idaho — Chantell and Mike Sackett’s dream house, if it is ever built, will have to be situated just so in order to minimize the view of neighboring homes and maximize the vista of pristine water and conifer-covered mountain.

But their roughly half-acre lot in the Idaho Panhandle has proved to be the perfect staging ground for a conservative uproar over the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency.

This month, the Supreme Court will review the Sacketts’ four-year-long effort to build on land that the EPA says contains environmentally sensitive wetlands. A decision in the couple’s favor could curtail the EPA’s authority and mean a fundamental change in the way the agency enforces the Clean Water Act.

Even before the court takes up the case, the couple have become a favored cause for developers, corporations, utilities, libertarians and conservative members of Congress, who condemn what one ally told the court is the EPA’s “abominable bureaucratic abuse.”

It is a familiar spot for the agency, which has come under withering criticism in the political arena. Republican presidential contenders routinely denounce the EPA’s actions and regulations as “job-killers,” while GOP House members have voted to ban the agency from regulating greenhouse gases and tried to cut its enforcement budget.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the Sacketts, features their saga on its Web site under the headline “Taking a Bully to the Supreme Court.” Conservative talk-show hosts have taken up the couple’s fight, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) convened a Capitol Hill forum to spotlight what speakers called the dictatorial enforcement policies of the EPA.

“This is what happens when an overzealous federal agency would rather force compliance than give any consideration to private property rights, individual rights, basic decency or common sense,” said the Sacketts’ home-state senator, Mike Crapo (R.)…

Read the Post report.

One thought on “Case ignites conservative ire over EPA”

  1. The biggest issue here is whether a citizen given an order can challenge it before taking action.

    The system was designed for an unpermitted chemical plant. You are accused and you stop flaring/discharging/whatever until you get your permit or face fines that would make Exxon hesitate.

    However, the agency is trying to apply this to a matter where there is a legitimate question as to their determination (the question of how there can be protected wetlands that are non-adjacent to open water with non-wetlands in between is tricky at best, and contrary to general definition). Worse, the Agency is demanding that the site be “restored”. That is, they are asking them to pay to un-do construction work before a judicial decision is made about whether the construction work was legitimate. The couple is trying to get the right to wait for a decision before actions rather than face fines that can easily span into the millions before a trial date can even be agreed upon (at $37,000 per day, that’s not very hard). Then, the agency has the option of deliberately prolonging the case via appeals, until a determination that it is “wetlands” would carry a fine larger than they could possibly pay.

    As for the commentors on the link, I can imagine them calling Rosa Parks lazy and fat for not standing up.

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