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03.21.2012 0

The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Sackett v. EPA deserves praise

The Supreme CourtBy Bill Wilson — In an era when the EPA seems to believe the water in one’s tub is a ‘navigable water’ subject to Clean Water Act restrictions and onerous fines, it is good to know that the agency’s compliance order dictates are still subject to judicial review. The agency in this case was actually attempting to argue that the Clean Water Act precluded any oversight by federal courts into the legality or even constitutionality of its edicts. Fortunately, the Supreme Court, to its credit, unanimously struck down any such a pretense.

While the case did not extend to whether the Sacketts’ property, north of Priest Lake and ‘separated by several lots containing permanent structures’ according to the ruling, is in fact a wetland, it opens the door for such an investigation. On that count, it appears the only way a boat could even navigate to the Sacketts’ property would be on a trailer. One hopes they will receive a favorable ruling on the merits of their case now that they will finally get their day in court.

This is a small victory. Importantly, this settles as a matter of law that such cases are indeed reviewable, and serves notice on the EPA that it cannot regulate every drop of water in the country through compliance orders without judicial oversight. Hopefully, with courts watching, such regulatory overreach may soon be coming to an end.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.

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