If you want to ruin your afternoon and remove any nice feelings you may have had towards the Environmental Protection Agency, then check out the video below. Its difficult to fathom why the Department of Justice is defending the EPA in this case:
This case is not new, though this video and accompanying Reason blog post is a very accessible introduction. A short summary:
The EPA informed the Sacketts that they suspected they were building on wetlands and had to cease work immediately. The Sacketts were stunned because their property was a completely landlocked lot within an existing subdivision. When Chantelle Sackett asked for evidence, the EPA pointed her to the National Fish and Wildlife Wetlands Inventory, which showed them that their lot… was not on an existing wetland.
The EPA responded issued what’s known as a compliance order, which said that the Sacketts were in violation of the Clean Water Act and subject to fines of up to $37,500 a day.
“You go to bed with that on your mind every night,” said Mike Sackett, who owns a contracting company. “It’s been painful personally. It’s been painful on our business.”
The EPA refused to offer any documentation or evidence for its position, even after the Sacketts hired their own scientists to refute the wetlands claim. Feeling they had no other choice, they tried to take the EPA to court. Unfortunately, not even this was an option, because the EPA maintained that a compliance order is nothing more than a warning and that they cannot be challenged until they actually enforce the fines, which were racking up by the day.
And a nice quote from The Washington Times:
Maybe it’s time for a new consumer protection agency and czar to protect us from the predations of government agencies. An agency that can protect rights and prosecute civil rights violations. An agency that can regulate the regulators. An agency with a Civil Rights Division to protect Americans from governmental bureaucratic abuse.