Wyoming is watching an environmental case before the U-S Supreme Court

Jan 9, 2012

A fight over less than an acre of land in a remote part of Idaho could alter the way the government enforces environmental regulations across the country and many in Wyoming are watching.  Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Sackett-v-EPA.

Mike and Chantell Sackett bought a plot of land in North Idaho with a nice lake view.  But their dreams of building a rustic A-frame cottage have been on hold for four years, because the E-P-A says their property is in a protected wetland area. 

 BRAND- "This case involves the EPA’s ability to issue an order that essentially deprives the property-owner of the value of the property."

 Attorney Rachel Brand co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief for the U-S Chamber of Commerce.  Wyoming joined with nine other states to file a brief, as well.  Brand says those corporations and states want to rein in an agency that they see as out-of-control.

 BRAND -"What we’re arguing is that, whether it’s a corporation or a person, they should have their day in court."

 But if every action can immediately go to court, enforcement of laws such as the Clean Water Act can grind to a halt.  That’s what makes conservation groups nervous.  When it comes to litigation strategy, casting counts.  George Washington University Law professor Robert Glicksman says in this battle, Mike and Chantell Sackett may be the obvious “David” to the EPA’s Goliath, but it goes beyond that.

 GLICKSMAN-"The precedent set in this case would allow the ‘Goliath’ corporations to bring lawsuits, just as it allows the Sacketts of the world to bring this lawsuit."

 GLICKSMAN says could have an impact upon the degree to which wetlands are protected – with important ecological implications.