Friday, March 23, 2012

Sackett v. EPA -- US S.Ct.


From the Syllabus:

The Sacketts may bring a civil action under the APA to challengethe issuance of the EPA’s order. Pp. 4–10.

(a) The APA provides for judicial review of “final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court.” 5 U. S. C. §704.The compliance order here has all the hallmarks of APA finality. Through it, the EPA “determined” “rights or obligations,” Bennett v. Spear, 520 U. S. 154, 178, requiring the Sacketts to restore theirproperty according to an agency-approved plan and to give the EPA access. Also, “legal consequences . . . flow” from the order, ibid., which, according to the Government’s litigating position, exposes theSacketts to double penalties in future enforcement proceedings. The order also severely limits their ability to obtain a permit for their fillfrom the Army Corps of Engineers, see 33 U. S. C. §1344; 33 CFR§326.3(e)(1)(iv). Further, the order’s issuance marks the “consummation” of the agency’s decisionmaking process, Bennett, supra, at 178, for the EPA’s findings in the compliance order were not subject tofurther agency review. The Sacketts also had “no other adequateremedy in a court,” 5 U. S. C. §704. A civil action brought by the EPAunder 33 U. S. C. §1319 ordinarily provides judicial review in suchcases, but the Sacketts cannot initiate that process. And each day they wait, they accrue additional potential liability. Applying to the Corps of Engineers for a permit and then filing suit under the APA if that permit is denied also does not provide an adequate remedy for the EPA’s action. Pp. 4–6.
(b) The Clean Water Act is not a statute that “preclude[s] judicial review” under the APA, 5 U. S. C. §701(a)(1). The APA creates a “presumption favoring judicial review of administrative action.” Block v. Community Nutrition Institute, 467 U. S. 340, 349. While this presumption “may be overcome by inferences of intent drawn from the statutory scheme as a whole,” ibid., the Government’s arguments do not support an inference that the Clean Water Act’s statutory scheme precludes APA review. Pp. 7–10.

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