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The Clean Water Act Hits Home
Thursday, October 20, 2011 4:16 pm | By J. Michael Wahlen

The Property Rights Alliance has long been concerned about the power given to the government by the Clean Water Act (CWA). This act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tremendous authority over private property by allowing it to regulate virtually any body of water, from puddles to great lakes, in the name of clean water. Predictably, this has led to an endless overreach by the EPA, which uses it to file over 3,000 “administrative compliance orders” per year against businesses and individuals.

The orders do tremendous harm to the economy as well as to people’s lives by preventing them from using their property the way they had intended. This is one reason that the Physical Property Rights ranking by the PRA’s International Property Rights Index (IPRI) has shown a decline in recent years for the United States.

The great harm that each and everyone one of these “administrative compliance orders” causes has recently been brought home by a couple from Idaho. Mike and Chantell Sackett purchased .63 acres of land for $23,000 in 2005 to build their dream home. Despite being 500 feet from the nearest body of water, and that the EPA’s own land registry did not list the land as a wetland, the EPA ruled that the parcel is a wetland. This prohibited the Sacketts from building their house. To make matters worse, the EPA fined them over $36,000 a day for bringing in gravel and not turning in an annual report on the state of the land. The fine has grown to reach over $40 million. While the Sackett’s have sued the EPA, the courts have ruled that the couple has no right to challenge the decision, and that EPA orders are immune from judicial review.

Currently, the Sacketts live in a rental home next to their property, as they wait for the Supreme Court to hear their case this term. Legal experts are divided as to whether or not the Sacketts are likely to win their appeal. Hopefully, however, the Supreme Court will end this abuse by the government, sending a clear signal that property rights are still upheld strongly here in the U.S.

To learn more about the Sackett’s story, and to see where the case is now, click here for a short video by Mark Hyman, at Sinclair Broadcasting.

Tags: Enviro | Permalink | Comments

You are so awesome for helping me solve this mseytry.
River / esghbXzxmxpwwhjwI October 28, 2011 28:23 pm

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Linda / Texas October 31, 2011 31:16 pm

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Ran Rhaine / Philippines April 10, 2012 10:42 am

So Mr. Doherty drove by the property in quositen for decades no less and knew' it was a wetland. (Interesting that he doesn't claim jurisdictional').He worked for the ACOE. Surely he must have been aware that the area wasbeing subdivided into home sites. If the ACOE wanted to protect that particularproperty, why weren't they proactive about it ? Clearly whoever did thesubdividing was not required to put any notes regarding potentially jurisdictionalproperties on the platting paperwork. The onus should not fall entirely on theproperty owner.Again, a wetland and a jurisdictional wetland are not the same thing. Kalispellroad, which apparently is what Mr. Doherty utilized for his drive-bys', musthave been built before wetlands became an issue. Clearly, he had no problemwhatsoever with using this road which was illegally' built over wetlands. (Andwhich, apparently, has not in fact caused any problems or contributed topolluting Priest Lake.) There are no culverts under Kalispell road at this site,and from a legal perspective the Sackett property may very well be isolated'wetlands. If you're so worried about the lake being polluted, why are powerboats allowed on it ?That seems a much more likely vector than the Sackett's property, given that theyhad all the necessary local permits, water/sewer hookup, etc.
Arvind / 2mYHROwc December 29, 2015 29:53 pm

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