(CN) – An Idaho couple can fight federal regulation of their wetland-classified property after the 9th Circuit heeded a reversal by U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.
Chantell and Michael Sackett resisted a compliance order from the Environmental Protection Agency after they filled in portions of their small property in Bonner County, Idaho. The EPA said that, as a wetland, the property was subject to the Clean Water Act.
Faced with steep fines for failing to comply, the Sacketts couldn’t get a hearing to challenge the EPA’a authority. A federal judge in Idaho dismissed their request for an injunction for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and the 9th Circuit later affirmed.
The high court reversed unanimously in March, finding that the Sacketts could challenge an EPA compliance order under the Administrative Procedures Act.
“In Clean Water Act enforcement cases, judicial review ordinarily comes by way of a civil action brought by the EPA under 33 U. S. C. §1319,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court. “But the Sacketts cannot initiate that process, and each day they wait for the agency to drop the hammer, they accrue, by the government’s telling, an additional $75,000 in potential liability. The other possible route to judicial review – applying to the Corps of Engineers for a permit and then filing suit under the APA if a permit is denied – will not serve either. The remedy for denial of action that might be sought from one agency does not ordinarily provide an ‘adequate remedy’ for action already taken by another agency.”
On Thursdsay, the federal appeals court remanded the case to the District of Idaho in Boise.