The facts attorney Damien M. Schiff presents in his Feb. 18 guest opinion piece – “Sacketts’ wetlands fight about liberties” – are so grossly incomplete they paint a false picture of the situation behind the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Sackett v. EPA.
The Sacketts had many opportunities to cheaply and quickly secure a federal permit to fill in wetlands on their property – which is exactly what their own consultant advised. If they played by the rules, they would have had the chance to get a court ruling on whether they needed a permit before the Environmental Protection Agency took any enforcement action.
Instead, they chose to cut corners and, when they got caught, sued the EPA.
If the court adopts the argument put forward by Schiff, the EPA will have a much harder time policing things like dumping toxic chemicals into rivers, or burying wetlands and other sensitive areas.
Companies could sue every time they get a notice of an alleged violation. The EPA will be forced to use limited resources to fight lawsuits instead of protecting our water and air. Or, more likely, the EPA will cut down on enforcement to avoid getting bogged down in court.
Either way, we all lose.
Larry Levine, senior attorney
Natural Resources Defense Council
New York City