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Supreme Court to hear case of dream home quashed by EPA

The Supreme Court on Monday will hear arguments in a case that shows the EPA is out of control, property-rights advocates say. Environmentalists say the couple involved is merely trying to scapegoat the EPA.  

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The US Supreme Court on Monday is set to hear a case involving the Environmental Protection Agency that some property-rights advocates and business groups say is an example of how onerous federal regulations are spreading throughout the country.

The case examines whether an Idaho couple may seek the help of a federal judge to decide a dispute with the EPA over whether the lot they purchased for a planned dream home is a federally-regulated wetland.

Environmental groups say the couple could have avoided the agency action by working with government officials rather than fighting them.

Chantell and Michael Sackett purchased a 0.63-acre lot for $23,000 in 2005 to build a home near scenic Priest Lake in Idaho. After obtaining local permits in 2007, the couple began grading the property with soil and rock in preparation for construction of a three-bedroom house.

But the project came to a halt after EPA officials arrived at the site and informed the Sacketts that the property was a wetland. The regulators said the couple’s efforts to grade the land constituted a form of pollution under the federal Clean Water Act.

The Sacketts disagreed with the “wetlands” designation, noting that a road ran between their property and Priest Lake and that their lot was in a residentially zoned subdivision containing other homes.

The EPA responded by issuing a “compliance order,” requiring them to take immediate action to remove all deposited fill material and restore the lot to its original condition. The order required them to plant new trees and shrubs and to maintain a fence around the lot for three growing seasons.


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