Imagine buying a plot of land with the hopes of building your dream home. After obtaining all the local permits, you begin construction. Now imagine getting a compliance order in the mail from the EPA telling you that your land was just deemed a “wetland” and you must return it to its original state or face fines of $37,500 per day. This, of course, comes as a big surprise, because your land is not wet. Think that’s bad (and it is)? Now imagine not being able to sue the EPA over its decision until it issues an enforcement order, at which point it can collect on the accruing fines. Sound completely insane? Welcome to the Sackett’s world.
The case is headed for the US Supreme Court. At issue is whether or not ordinary property owners can have their day in court before the EPA issues its enforcement order. All the lower courts have ruled in favor of the EPA, but apparently enough Justices thought this needed a second look. Let’s hope they rule in favor of property owners.