Can the EPA deprive you of your property without due process of law?

Posted on March 23, 2012 by rockingjude

By Dr. Jeff Edgens

Property rights in America are sinking to the bottom of a regulatory swamp. The biggest threat to property rights is unchallenged bureaucratic decisions that command property owners to do the bidding of the EPA while not allowing those citizens the opportunity to be heard.

One couple caught in this legal quagmire is Mike and Chantell Sackett, of Priest Lake, Idaho, where they bought property in 2008 to build the home of their dreams. They secured all of the necessary permits and began work to fill the land and to prepare the site for the construction of their lake home. But three days after they began work a group of EPA wetland cops made a visit and in no uncertain terms ordered the Sacketts to cease and desist their activities.

Obviously, the Sacketts were taken aback by the EPA command. To complicate matters EPA’s own National Wetlands Inventory did not include the Sackett property as a wetland. To that, the EPA officials only shrugged and said that makes no difference: your property is still a wetland.

During the coming weeks and months the Sacketts attempted to voice their complaints to the agency, but not only did the agency not listen, EPA said its decision could not be challenged. What part of the Constitution does the agency need to re-read? Our founders understood that it is a basic right of Americans to challenge their government to protect us against arbitrary decrees imposed by the king or those who carry out his orders.

But this is where the story gets interesting. Because of EPA’s refusal to hear the Sacketts and with fines racking up, the agency issued a compliance order. This compliance order was a final step in EPA’s actions to enforce the regulations against the Sacketts and to demand that the property be returned to its original state (remember it’s not classified as a wetland) and pay the fines.

With fines mounting every day for violating the Clean Water Act and the EPA compliance order, the Sacketts’ options were limited. They could either make amends to the property and quit work or challenge the agency’s decision. The Sacketts did as any American would do: they went to court and sued the agency to hear them out. Unfortunately, the lower court and appeals court affirmed the Sacketts could not speak to EPA. . . .


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