Supreme Court sides with landowners against EPA
Scalia said the Clean Water Act was not “uniquely designed to enable the strong-arming of regulated parties into ‘voluntary compliance’ without the opportunity for judicial review.”
In a separate concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said allowing property owners to sue was better than nothing, but urged Congress to adopt new legislation clarifying the reach of the Clean Water Act.
The attorney for the Sacketts, Damien Schiff, said, “EPA is not above the law. That’s the bottom line with today’s ruling. This is a great day for Mike and Chantell Sackett, because it confirms that EPA can’t deny them access to justice. EPA can’t repeal the Sackett’s fundamental right to their day in court.”
In a statement issued after the Supreme Court’s decision was announced, American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman said his organization was pleased with the ruling favoring property owners.
“We agree with Justice Alito’s concurring opinion that the federal government has too often ‘put the property rights of ordinary Americans entirely at the mercy of the Environmental Protection Agency’s employees.’ We also agree with Justice Alito that, while allowing landowners to sue is a start, Congress needs to clarify the reach of the Clean Water Act.”
Stallman said Farm Bureau is optimistic the decision will help “curtail EPA’s efforts to illegally expand its regulatory jurisdiction over farming and other land-based activities. At the very least, landowners have another tool to hold EPA accountable.”
The Supreme Court case is Sackett v EPA, No. 1—1062.