Vermont Law Top 10 Environmental Watch List 2013 U.S. Supreme Court Authorizes Pre-enforcement Judicial Review of Clean Water Act Compliance Orders

U.S. Supreme Court Authorizes Pre-enforcement Judicial Review of Clean Water Act Compliance Orders

SUMMARY

In Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, issued in March 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that property owners have the right to immediately go to court to challenge the validity of administrative compliance orders issued by the EPA under the Clean Water Act. The decision overturns many prior federal appeals court decisions concluding that owners who receive compliance orders, but disagree with the EPA’s position that they are violating the law, have only two choices: comply with the order or run the risk of the EPA bringing a potentially costly civil enforcement action against them. Now, property owners have the additional option of going court to challenge the EPA position that the Clean Water Act applies to them, strengthening the hands of property owners vis-à-vis the EPA. More...