April 16, 2012

New U.S. Supreme Court Wetlands Case


The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a decision in the closely followed Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency case.  The Court agreed with arguments contained in two amicus briefs filed by the NAHB that a property owner who receives a Compliance Order from the EPA or Army Corps of Engineers may maintain an action to seek relief in court.

The Sacketts owned a small, undeveloped lot in Priest Lake, Idaho where they planned on building their dream home.  While they were preparing their lot for construction, the EPA issued a Compliance Order accusing the Sacketts of illegally filling wetlands.  The EPA denied the Sacketts an administrative hearing to challenge the order.  The Court reversed this, allowing a challenge of the Compliance Order to proceed. 

Because of the Sackett case, any builder who receives a Compliance Order may seek review of the order before proceeding to the stage of an enforcement order which carries severe daily penalties. While many in the industry hoped for a broader ruling on jurisdictional issues, this ruling will help protect the industry from capricious actions by federal agencies. 

For more information on this topic, please contact marketing@jordanramis.com or call (888) 598-7070.


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