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Supreme Court Rules For Idaho Couple In EPA Suit

The Supreme Court issued ruling Wednesday saying that Mike and Chantell Sackett of Priest Lake can go to court to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency order that blocked construction of their new home and threatened fines of more than $30,000 a day. Wednesday’s decision is a victory for the Sacketts whose property near a scenic lake has sat undisturbed since the EPA ordered a halt in work in 2007. The agency said part of the property was a wetlands that could not be disturbed without a permit.  In an opinion by Justice Antonin *Scalia, the court rejected EPA’s argument that allowing property owners quick access to courts to contest orders like the one issued to the Sacketts would compromise the agency’s ability to deal with water pollution.  In this case, the couple objected to the determination that their small lot contained wetlands that are regulated by the Clean Water Act, and they complained there was no reasonable way to challenge the order without risking fines that can mount quickly.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a separate opinion that the only issue decided by the court Wednesday is the Sacketts’ ability to contest the EPA finding that their property is subject to the Clean Water Act.   In another separate opinion, Justice Samuel **Alito called on Congress to clear up confusion over the reach of the Clean Water Act saying that  federal regulators could assert authority over any property that is wet for even part of the year, not just rivers and streams.  In a statement, the Sacketts praised the court for “affirming that we have rights, and that the EPA is not a law unto itself.”

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