Environment Legal, Laws, and Regs

Sackett v EPA: Today’s the day

Today’s the day when the second Sackett v EPA case is heard in the Supreme Court. The consequences of today’s imbalanced Supreme Court could be devastating to the quality of the waters in our country.

I’ll be writing about this case after the oral arguments. In the meantime, I’m putting together a page (Sackett v EPA Documents and articles) with links to documents I’ve collected over the years. All of the court documents aren’t fully linked, but the key set of material is the EPA Administrative Record. This set of documents contains the reports and photos that form the background for the EPA case.

The Sacketts contend that they needed no CWA permit because their land was separated from Priest Lake by a road, and therefore, there is no contiguous connection between the wetlands on their land and the lake. The EPA contends that a manmade structure, such as a berm, dike, or in this case, road, does not alter the fact that the wetland does, indeed, have a significant impact on the lake.

These arguments directly relate to the question that this hearing is supposed to address. But the Sackett lawyer, the infamous Pacific Legal Foundation, decided to blow the case up by challenging what constitutes a ‘tributary’ in the Clean Water Act—a challenge that could have disastrous impact on our waters in the country.

The courts should not address the latter challenge—it’s not included in the question related to the case—but as we discovered last year, this Supreme Court plays by a different set of rules now.

You can listen to the oral arguments at this link.


Lessons learned from the Wayback Machine

I’ve learned many lessons from recovering weblog posts from the Wayback Machine.

If you feel the need to freshen your site, you really don’t need a new domain or subdomain, and most of the time you don’t need a new site redesign. All you need, is a break.

It’s OK to mix content types. So what if your techie stuff is side by side with your poetry? People can skip what they don’t like.

Don’t ever embed a dependency on a third-party web site for anything. So many of my recovered posts referenced photos in an account on Flickr that I no longer have. I recovered most images, but not all.

If you’re going to embed a tweet, embed a screenshot of the tweet and then provide a direct link to it. That way if the account is gone, you don’t end up with gibberish in your page.

For your own media, be wary of using the weblogging software add media functionality. In the process of recovering my writings, I decided to go from a WordPress multisite to a single site installation. It wasn’t a complicated task—export site’s content, install a fresh WordPress installation, and import the site—but the export/import munged the media I had added using the WP Add Media functionality.

(Thankfully, there’s a plugin, Broken Link Checker, that helped me find the broken image links and get them fixed.)

Don’t use excerpts on the front page, or the category page, or archive. I lost some writing because the Wayback Machine had a post in the main page, but hadn’t captured the actual post page, itself. When I displayed the full contents on the main page, I was able to recover the writing. When I didn’t…well, that writing was lost.

Lastly, even when recovering old posts I still left internal links to the Wayback Machine. So much of the older stuff is gone but still preserved in the Wayback Machine.

And if the post had comments, I included a link to the Wayback Machine entry at the top of my posts so that folks can see it, and the discussion, in its original form.


Documents Legal, Laws, and Regs

Court Cases with Docket Sheets and Downloadable Documents

Following are the court cases I’m following and/or docket sheets and associated court documents provided by others:

Front Range Equine Rescue et al v. Vilsack et al: Several animal welfare groups and individuals sued the USDA for issuing horse meat inspection permits without conducting a proper NEPA review. This case is based on the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and the USDA has provided the Administrative Record underlying its decision. I have both the AR index as well as the associated documents. Ongoing and frequently updated.

Animal Welfare Inc. et al vs. Feld Entertainment: (formerly ASPCA et al vs. Feld Entertainment) Several animal welfare groups and one individual sued Feld Entertainment for violations of the Endangered Species Act. The decision was in favor of Feld, and the animal welfare groups lost on appeal. The court is currently determining lawyer fees for the defendant. Ongoing but infrequently updated.

Feld Entertainment v. Animal Welfare Act Inc, et al: (formerly Feld Entertainment vs. ASPCA et al) Feld is suing several animal welfare groups and individuals under RICO based on activities associated with the previously listed ESA action. Ongoing and infrequently updated.

The Michael Brown Grand Jury documents – no court docket, but files used in the Michael Brown (Ferguson) grand jury. Includes all transcripts.

Sackett v EPA – Both SCOTUS court cases


Sackett v EPA: Documents and Articles

(Links in process)

The Sacketts have been at the Supreme court twice. The first time, the question was whether an EPA compliance order could be challenged in court. The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that it could.

The second case has more far reaching consequences in that it gives the current Supreme Court license to answer the question: what exactly are the EPA-protected waters of the US (WOTUS)?

Original Case

The question was whether an EPA compliance order could be considered an agency final action, and challenged in court.

Idaho District Court

The *RECAP court docket for the original Sackett v. EPA court case in Idaho, 2008, and any freely downloadable copies of court documents it contains.

Documents not held at RECAP for this case:

Document 1-2: Attachment B

Document 1-3: Attachment C

Document 1-4: Attachment D

Document 14: Motion to dismiss

Document 15: Memorandum in support

Document 15-1: Attachment A

Document 15-2: Attachment B

Document 15-3: Attachment C

Document 15-4: Attachment D

Document 19: Response to motion to dismiss

Document 20: Reply to response

Document 22: Judgement to dismiss

Document 23: Motion for reconsideration

Document 23-1: Memorandum in support

Document 26: Memorandum in opposition

Document 27: Reply to response

Document 28: Order denying motion for reconsideration

EPA Administrative Record

The administrative record includes all documents the Department considered when making the decision.

EPA Administrative Record for Sackett compliance order, including copies of all documents.

Ninth Circuit

Copy of docket

Court decision

Supreme Court


Docket for original Supreme Court case related to the Sacketts in 2012.

Oral arguments


Articles related to first case

Oyez overview

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute entry

SCOTUSBlog Lyle Dennistan: Opinion recap: Taking EPA to court

ABA: Sackett v. EPA: Implications for administrative compliance

Nina Mendelson: In Sackett v. EPA, Troubling Potential for SCOTUS to Undermine Government’s Ability to Promptly Respond to Environmental Threats

Supreme Court case involving Idaho lake house ignites conservative cause against EPA

Lowell Rothschild Before and After Sacket vs US EPA

Spokesman-Review Priest Lake couple’s land dispute with EPA going to high court

NPR When Property Rights, Environmental laws collide

The Sacketts Got Their Day in Court on the Merits; Another Lesson in Being Careful What You Wish For

Craig Pittman Supreme Court gets a chance to botch another wetlands case

Sacketts likely to win Supreme Court case, law profs say

Current Sackett v EPA case

Idaho District Court

— post appeal and Supreme Court decision —

Document 54: Motion to stay litigation

Document 56: Stipulation to stay

Document 59: Government answer to complaint

Document 60: Scheduling form – litigation plan

Document 62-1: Index certification

Document 62-2: Administrative Record Index

Document 67: STIPULATION Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order

Document 73: RESPONSE to Motion re 70 MOTION to Strike

Document 73-1, Document 73-2, Document 73-3

Document 76: MEMORANDUM/BRIEF filed by Chantell Sackett, Michael Sackett Request for Judicial Notice

Document 77: MEMORANDUM/BRIEF re 76 Memorandum/Brief

Document 82: MEMORANDUM/BRIEF re 77 Memorandum/Brief

Document 84: REPLY to Response to Motion re 70 MOTION to Strike 62 Administrative Record

Document 84-1: Attachment A

Document 85: MOTION File Surreply to Plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike

Document 85-1: Memorandum in support

Document 88-1: Exhibit A – Supplemental Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Document 90: RESPONSE to Motion re 88 MOTION to Supplement Complaint

Document 91: REPLY to Response to Motion re 88 MOTION


Document 101: The United States’ ANSWER to 98 Amended Complaint

Document 103-1: Memorandum in support

Document 105-1: Memorandum in support

Document 105-2: Exhibit

Document 109: Response to motion

Document 112: Reply to Response

Document 116: Notice by USEPA

Ninth Circuit

Copy of docket

Document 51: Sackett supplemental brief

Document 54: EPA supplemental brief

Supreme Court


Docket for latest Supreme Court challenge.

SCOTUSBlog entries for latest Supreme Court Challenge.


EPA Proposes to Use Science to Identify Waters of the United States. I’m Shocked, Shocked.

E & E News: Pivotal Supreme Court term begins with WOTUS war

Vox: The Supreme Court case that’s likely to handcuff the Clean Water Act

High Country News: Will the Supreme Court gut the Clean Water Act?

Wetlands case tops court agenda

General and Related

A Brief Overview of Rulemaking and Judicial Review

Development authority seeks wetland permit for Bryan County ‘mega-site’

*RECAP is an effort to make PACER federal court documents freely available to the public. People use a browser extension for RECAP when accessing a court document. A copy of that document is then also loaded to the RECAP stores and made available for everyone at no additional charge.

The documents I have were downloaded before I installed the RECAP browser extension. Unfortunately, I can’t donate them to RECAP as the organization has no way of vetting that the documents are legitimate and untainted.

Burningbird Just Shelley

Weblog Penance

How many times have I written about this change or that to my site? Not enough, it seems.

I’m in the process of using that wonderful, magnificent site The Wayback Machine to recover posts from all my various incarnations of weblogs and whatnot sites. Yes, I do have backups from recent sites, but not the ones from 1998, or 2003, or 2015, and so on. And certainly not all the posts for all variations of weblogs I’ve had.

I estimate now that I’ve had a weblog, split or singular, on 83 domains and subdomains. Does anyone remember Thank the NRA? Bad Kitty? Missouri Green? Practical RDF? BB Gun? Script Teaser?

I split my weblog and combined it dozens of times, utilizing 23 different domains, and probably twice that many subdomains.

Even my main site, my weblog, this thing here…it’s been accessed as,, and, in addition to the location.

To make things even more interesting, sometimes the article URIs would be listed as ‘fires’, other times as ‘nodes’, sometimes as the full date, and finally, just the post title.

I was on Blogger, and on Graymatter, on Movable Type and Drupal, on Radio, and now on WordPress. I began with manually coded static web pages, back before weblogs and weblogging software were things. I even tried my hand at creating my own weblogging software: Wordform, a  fork of the early WordPress software.

And not since the very earliest days have I had all of my writings in one single site.

So, I’m recovering each writing/post/article, one at a time, either from my own backups, or mostly from the Wayback Machine. I’ve already recovered over 1300 posts, but I estimate I have about 4000 or so to go.

I think it was Tim Bray who spoke out, decades ago, about the wrongness of missing webpages—the 404s we have come to know and dislike. That’s the beauty of The Wayback Machine: web pages aren’t gone for good, they’re just finding a comfortable niche to settle into for a good sleep.

Thanks to Internet Archive for providing The Wayback Machine, I’ll be able to restore most of my writing. However, I shouldn’t use the word ‘restore’ to describe what I’m doing. After all, ‘restoring’ sounds somewhat noble—as if I’m taking a fine old web site and returning it to its glory.

I’m really not restoring my web sites: I’m doing penance for not being able to sit still for 26 years.