Priest Lake couple takes EPA challenge to high court - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Priest Lake couple takes EPA challenge to high court

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Posted: Sunday, March 6, 2011 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — A determined Bonner County couple who contends the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is unfairly interfering with their right to develop a homesite at Priest Lake is taking their fight to the nation’s high court.

Counsel for Mike and Chantelle Sackett petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court last week to consider a series of lower court rulings concerning an EPA determination that federally regulated wetlands are present on their half-acre parcel in a Priest Lake subdivision.

The Sacketts sued EPA over the wetlands determination in U.S. District Court, but a federal judge dismissed the action in 2008 and entered a judgment in favor of EPA. The couple sought redress through the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year, but a three-judge panel ruled judicial review is not available.

A petition for the entire bench of the 9th Circuit to hear the request was also declined.

The Sacketts petitioned the high court to take their case and rule that they have the right to challenge EPA’s wetlands determination.

“The issue in this case is simple, but critically important to all property owners and everyone who values fair play and due process,” said Damien Schiff of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the Sacketts pro bono. “When bureaucrats try to impose their will on private property, shouldn’t the owners be permitted their day in court to challenge the government’s claim of control?”

The PLF, which bills itself as a watchdog group that litigates for property rights and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, is petitioning the higher court to a review lower court’s judgment for reversible error.

The group contends the 9th Circuit ruling foists an intolerable choice on landowners — spend hundreds of thousands of dollars applying for a permit of questionable need or risk an equally costly enforcement action with fines and penalties.

The PLF also argues the 9th Circuit’s ruling conflicts with an 11th Circuit ruling regarding review procedures for federal compliance orders.

The Sacketts have insisted on a hearing to test EPA’s jurisdiction of their property.

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  • wilson posted at 2:30 pm on Wed, Mar 9, 2011.

    wilson Posts: 1096

    baclklash - If you mean were we better off before E P A became the controlling force in this country the answer is yes. America did not achieve more in the last 150 years than Europe did in the last 2 thousand before being browbeaten by carreer staffers in Wash D C. Rock Creek Mine could operate very well by State regulators, but you have to keep in mind that the mining process will remove all those minerals that are now washing into the Lake with every rain storm. (that is a good thing!) Yes, all Fed regulators should be eliminated - that would be a good start -

    States need to start telling E P A to butt out - but then we would have to have our representatives do what it takes to do that - they are too spineless for that -

  • backlash posted at 4:56 pm on Tue, Mar 8, 2011.

    backlash Posts: 1509

    I think it is wrong to say an already existing piece of land can not be used which as existed and sold are a legitimate lot as opposed to saying "no you can not subdivide it" and so on is wrong. That is in essence a fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more levied at an individual who did nothing wrong.

    Many writing here use this a an excuse that all regulations should be terminated. If you want the EPA gone would you like to see for example the Rock Creek mine operating with no regulation on it's discharge into the Clark Fork River.
    Now that we are told that Americans must compete with 3rd world countries where the wages are a few dollars a day with no benefits or environmental regulations and we should not have a safety net for the people on the bottom we need unions more than ever.

    We have no representation is right only the wealthy and large corporations have a say that amounts to a hill of beans. If Exon wanted that lot approved it would take about five minutes.

  • capnbutch posted at 6:44 am on Tue, Mar 8, 2011.

    capnbutch Posts: 149

    It is sad that these two are having such a hard time. EPA goals were nice but the agency's inept moves in support of those goals are tragedy on wheels.

    EPA mistakes in Coeur d'Alene killed a man and the subsequent coverup is perhaps the biggest in American government history.

    Separately, an EPA officer walked into OZ Technologies, a Coeur d'Alene business, and seized important paperwork relating to customers and a newly developed patent. The records were taken without permission, a warrant or a kind word. The information made it difficult to continue in business and was never returned.

    A Rochester, NY man., Thomas P. Fortino, is dead because of EPA ineptness and dishonesty.

    Over in the Silver Valley a significant number of books has been written in responsible scientific criticism of EPA. The best is "Superfund: Fact and Fraud" written by Fred Traxler and Bob Hopper.

    I asked EPA a string of serious questions. I asked graciously. I got no response so I wrote articles in two newspapers. Shortly thereafter two armed thugs came after me. In the meeting, they abandoned the opportunity to murder me and left so fast that they nearly drove over a small child on the roadway. I believe EPA and the thugs are connected.

    It is true that EPA agents carry guns. That's on the books. I don't know what the best defense might but fighting back has not worked.

  • Dickgbh posted at 10:44 pm on Sun, Mar 6, 2011.

    Dickgbh Posts: 1

    Unfortunately the federal government continues to give itself powers that were never intended to be. I say we need to elect people to office that have a heck of a lot more common sense than we have now. Let the people build on their land. If an insurance company does not want to insure, so be it.

  • Ralph Mavity posted at 6:44 pm on Sun, Mar 6, 2011.

    Ralph Mavity Posts: 77

    All these problems for the Sacketts over a piece of land 147.5' x 147.5'. I agree with Wilson.

  • life is good posted at 5:39 pm on Sun, Mar 6, 2011.

    life is good Posts: 635

    I agree wth Wilson - E P A can be equated to unionism - they were once helpful but now not much needed - think of the money the Federal Gov. could save by just getting rid of this one useless bureaucracy--

    I doubt very much if our legislators can figure this out though - It seems we the people have no representation when it comes to doing the right thing at the Fed level --

  • wilson posted at 1:35 pm on Sun, Mar 6, 2011.

    wilson Posts: 1096

    Good for you, Sacketts, for doing the right thing. People need to call attention to this parasitic E P A bunch. Manned by a bunch of carreer staffers who have no idea about life in the real world, they somehow feel they need to keep coming up with rediculous regulations.

    Our representatives need to find some backbone and reel this bunch in. They have assumed tremendous powers and have become the worst of the worst. Each State can take care of itself, Time for them to go on unemployment!