Press Release

The Sacketts to recount EPA abuses at forum hosted by Sen. Rand Paul

Washington, D.C.; October 10, 2011: On Wednesday, October 12, 2011, Mike and Chantell Sackett, of Priest Lake, Idaho, will be among the victims of government regulatory abuses who will address a property rights roundtable forum with members of Congress, hosted by Senator Rand Paul.

The Sacketts and other witnesses will share their stories of regulatory and statutory overreach and the havoc it has created by hindering prosperity and infringing on personal property rights.

The Sacketts are currently petitioners in Sackett v. EPA, a high-profile property rights casethat the U.S. Supreme Court has accepted for review and will hear sometime in early 2012. In their Supreme Court case, the Sacketts are represented by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation, the leading watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts nationwide.

EVENT: PROPERTY WRONGS: A discussion with victims of the U.S. government’s assault on private property.”
DATE: Wednesday, October 12, 2011
TIME: 2:30 p.m. EDT
LOCATION: 325 Russell Senate Office Building – Kennedy Caucus Room,
Washington DC 20510
RSVP: Jillian Lane – jillian_lane@paul.senate.gov

 

WITNESSES:

Mike and Chantell Sackett

The Sacketts have to live in a rented home, because EPA has blocked them from building a house on their own property in Priest Lake, Idaho.

Their parcel is in a residential area, with sewer and water hookups, and they got the needed permits to build. But then EPA swooped in, without notice, and announced that the property is “wetlands.” The Sacketts were ordered to return their land to EPA’s liking on pain of ruinous fines.

The Sacketts were stunned, and they dispute EPA’s claim. They hired a soil expert and a biologist, and got a certification that their parcel is not a wetland.

But EPA — and the Ninth Circuit — say they can’t challenge the agency in court!

Instead, they would first have to seek a “permit” costing hundreds of thousands of dollars (more than the value of the land!), and bring a legal case when the permit was denied. Or they could violate EPA’s orders and be crushed with penalties of $37,500-plus per day — and then seek court review.

Either way, the courtroom doors are slammed in their faces — unless they pay massive fees or fines. In accepting the Sacketts’ case for review, the Supreme Court will address fundamental issues of due process for property owners, and the rule of law for regulatory agencies: Can EPA regulators take control of people’s property, simply by issuing a “compliance order” declaring it “wetlands,” without having to justify their actions? Or do Americans still have the right to defend their property rights, in court?

Peter Nimrod, chief engineer, Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners

Taking its cue from extremist environmentalists, EPA has “vetoed” a vital, congressionally approved, flood-control project in the Mississippi Delta, the Yazoo Backwater Project, claiming it would harm wetlands. EPA has thereby usurped congressional authority and left the residents of the South Delta the only people in the Mississippi watershed without effective flood control in place. Under the Clean Water Act, EPA is prohibited from vetoing any project approved by Congress prior to December 27, 1977, when the environmental impacts of the project were made known to Congress before construction began. In this case, Congress received an environmental report from the Army Corps of Engineers before authorizing the project. Represented by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation, the Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners is suing EPA.

(The following case descriptions were provided by Sen. Paul’s office)

Victoria Khoury (Daughter of John Pozsgai)

In 1986, John Pozsgai of Bucks County, PA, bought an illegal dump across the street from his house. The dump contained a storm water drainage system and storm water drainage ditch that dated back to 1936. The dump was filled with tires, scrap metal, and other objects. He cleaned up the dump with plans to build a 12,500-square-foot building that would expand his business and enhance his community. Within months of acquiring the property, John was contacted by the Army Corps of Engineers informing him of the presence of wetlands. However, he did not fully understand these notices and his lawyer was of no help (the lawyer was later reprimanded for drunkenness in court). In 1987, the Army Corps civilly sued John to restore the property to its previous condition. When John was told by the Army Corps he needed a permit to build his truck repair shop, he obtained a water quality permit from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Resources, even though the Department of Environmental Resources informed him that the property was not on the National Wetlands Inventory. The Army Corps referred the case to the EPA, who then referred it to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. During this process, the Army Corps was still asking for more information to process John’s permit. John was then arrested and his home was searched for weapons by two EPA officers. John was sentenced to three years in prison and a $202,000 fine for violating the Clean Water Act. At the time Mr. Pozsgai was sentenced, he was the ‘worst environmental violator’ in the history of the United States.

Mayor Tom Moodie

Grand Rivers, a small Kentucky town of 350, has been battling the EPA, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and archeological groups for over two years as they try to build a new, and badly needed, sewer treatment facility. They are demanding that Grand Rivers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on impact studies of mussels and archeology before the new plant is built. The city does not have the money for these studies. Also, a few times a year the current plant has to be shut down, forcing them to re-route sewage into the river. The new site for the facility is about half-mile from the current site.

John and Judy Dollarhite

John and Judy Dollarhite of Nixa, MO, have been sentenced to a $90,643 fine from USDA for a “paperwork violation” after the family sold some rabbits to a local pet store. This violation in the Animal Welfare Act was intended to prevent the abuse of animals. Over the past few years the Dollarhites have raised and sold a few hundred rabbits as a part-time job to teach their son responsibility. Local experts praised the Dollarhites for the pristine condition they kept the rabbits in on their three-acre lot where their home sits.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is the leading legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts across the country.

Case Attorneys

Anthony L. Francois

Senior Attorney

Tony Francois is an attorney in PLF’s Sacramento office, and has litigated cases around the country defending Americans’ property rights from land use and environmental restrictions. He is a member … ›

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Damien M. Schiff

Senior Attorney

Currently a Senior Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, Damien joined PLF in 2005.  His practice has focused on federal and state environmental and land-use issues.  Damien was counsel of record … ›

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