Washington, DC; June 28, 2011: When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asserts control over private property, claiming it is “wetlands,” does the owner have the right to meaningful judicial review? This is the question in Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a property-rights case accepted today by the United States Supreme Court.
“The decision to take the case and review an anti-property rights ruling by the Ninth Circuit should be encouraging for all property owners, all across the country,” said Damien Schiff, senior staff attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation...."
The Sacketts were blindsided several years ago when EPA suddenly told them that it considers their small parcel in a residentially zoned neighborhood at Priest Lake to be “wetlands,” and that the federal government — not the Sacketts — controls the property. The Sacketts sought court review of EPA’s determination. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that they must first apply for a wetlands development permit — a long and probably fruitless process, the cost of which ($200,000 or more) would exceed the value of their property!
“With this case, the Supreme Court confronts important issues for property rights and due process...” more...
*Editorial note: Whatcom County is within the same overall jurisdiction as the original Idaho case that was rejected by the Ninth District Court of Appeals. Another major case testing the proper limits of federal environmental regulation was heard by the Supreme Court in April - you can read about that here.