A Big Win for Small Business
Washington, D.C. – Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center, today lauded the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Sackett v. EPA, to uphold landowner rights.
“Property rights are of enormous import to the hundreds of thousands of small-business owners who rely on their property for the success of their business,” said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s small-business legal center. “In ruling today that individuals can challenge the EPA in court before being penalized or forced into compliance, the justices have assured landowners that their constitutional right to seek judicial review of government orders is inalienable. The extraordinary costs, administrative burdens and other punitive measures that can cripple small businesses, are no longer an inevitability for the men and women of Main Street. This is a tremendous victory for the small-business community, and NFIB is thrilled to have been a part of this case.”
NFIB filed an amicus in support of the petitioners, two landowners who were ordered by the EPA to stop construction on their property because the agency determined it was a wetland. Chanttel and Mike Sackett were in the process of building their home on an undeveloped lot they purchased in 2005. After seeking necessary state and local permits, they filled a portion of the property with dirt and rock in preparation for construction. However, after construction commenced, the EPA issued a compliance order, alleging that the property is a wetland subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA). The couple was ordered to return their property to its original condition or face potential penalties of up to $32,500 per day for each violation of the order. The EPA denied their request to challenge the finding that their property is subject to the CWA, at which point the Sacketts sought relief in federal court.
NFIB argued that its membership, which includes many ranchers, farmers and homebuilders, would be adversely affected if judicial review were delayed until either the landowner has been denied a permit or is subject to an EPA enforcement action. Landowners are left with only two available options – spending substantial amounts of money on permit applications, or inviting enforcement actions which could result in costly civil and even criminal penalties. Both options are financially untenable for a small-business owner and would adversely affect the business’ ability to operate or expand.
NFIB is the nation’s leading small-business advocacy organization, representing 350,000 small businesses around the country.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists send their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses.