Can the EPA “Take” Property Without Due Process?

(Cato Institute, Timothy Sandefur) The Environmental Protection Agency has many administrative powers including the use of compliance orders to deny property owners the right to use their property without judicial recourse. In Idaho, Michael and Chantelle Sackett purchased property on which to build their dream home in 2005. After clearing the property and backfilling in preparation for laying the foundation, they were served by the EPA with a  wetland “compliance order” to cease building and return the land to its original state. When the Sacketts attempted to challenge the compliance order with a hearing before the EPA or a federal judge  they found that they had no right for a hearing in either venue. They only could assert their rights when, and if, the EPA filed an “enforcement” action. In other words, the Sacketts could only challenge the EPA determination that their property was designated a wetlands when the EPA allowed them, regardless of the EPA’s denial of their property rights. This would be bad enough if it weren’t for the $37,500 per day fine the Sacketts would incur if they did not restore the property to its original condition within 5 months. (read more…)