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Restoring due process

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Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court must curb the EPA's gross overreach in a case with private property rights and fairness at stake.

Oral arguments were held on Monday in Sackett v. EPA , which concerns a couple's four-year battle to build a home on their half-acre Idaho lot. It stems from what the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) calls the EPA's increasing tendency to define "dry land as 'wetlands' and 'waters of the United States' based on sweepingly expansive interpretations of the Clean Water Act."

(The EPA even has redefined "waters" as "moistures.")

Claiming the residential lot, with houses on each side, was a "wetland," EPA told the Sacketts they'd have to return it to its original condition, then seek an expensive development permit -- or face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

And the all-too-Orwellian EPA wouldn't even grant them a hearing. Whatever happened to due process•

"In the face of this expanding claim of agency power, property owners desperately need a quick way to obtain clarity in court," says Sam Kazman, general counsel for CEI, which filed an amicus brief supporting the Sacketts.

The justices at least must ensure a quick hearing for the Sacketts -- and should rein in EPA's penchant for expanding its own power far beyond the limits of law and common sense, too.

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