Colorado Couple Fined For Getting Rid Of Weeds Challenges EPA’s Authority
A Colorado couple fined by the EPA for getting rid of invasive weeds on their own property is challenging the decision – because the agency proposed the fine which was then affirmed by one of its own employees.
The case cites the right to have an adjudication by a neutral court in such disputes – not merely a rubber stamp by an employee.
The lawsuit was filed by Thomas and Amy Villegas after the EPA wanted to fine them $300,000 for removing debris and weeds from their own land.
The Pacific Legal Foundation explained the Villegases bought a piece of undeveloped land in Nebraska that they planned to use for hunting and other outdoor recreation.
“When they began the process of removing the downed trees and invasive Phragmite weeds, a neighbor reported them to the EPA. The EPA claimed that these activities discharged pollutants — namely dirt and other fill material — into protected waters, filed an administrative enforcement action against the Villegases, and hauled them in front of an agency administrative law judge to seek a $300,000 fine,” the legal organization explained.
“The Constitution guarantees a fair hearing before a neutral, life-tenured federal judge before the government may deprive citizens like the Villegases of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines,” said Damien Schiff, senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “But the Villegases were denied that right when the EPA chose to prosecute them in an in-house tribunal before an unaccountable administrative law judge who works for the agency.”
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Defendants are Michael Regan, chief of the EPA, Meg McCollister, of the EPA’s Region 7 and others.
The couple are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under Article III on the Constitution.
It was Susan Biro, an EPA employee who was working as an administrative law judge even though she never was appointed as an ALJ under the Appointments Clause, who ruled against the couple.
Their land is undeveloped.
Between January 2016 and December 2020, the Villegases set about improving the property by removing dead trees, which posed a fire hazard, and invasive Phragmite weeds, which are classified in the state as a noxious weed that destroy wetlands.
The property today is safer from fire and more welcoming to wildlife, the filing said.
Then the EPA claimed they placed “dirt, spoil, rock, culverts, trees, and sand into waters of the United States.”
But, the complaint explains, the EPA’s “administrative adjudicatory scheme” puts the Villegases “before an individual who was never appointed as an ALJ consistent with the Constitution, subjects them to her jurisdiction, and compels them to please their case to her and obey her orders.”
IMPORTANT NOTE: Although millions of American parents send their precious children off to public school every day, imagining their kids’ days will be filled with reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, sports and music, they’re not only in for a shock – but for total BETRAYAL. Today’s “public” (government) schools have become far-left ideological, political and religious indoctrination centers aimed at reprogramming and transforming America’s children.
Kids are being taught to HATE their own country and to see themselves and their parents as racists – or victims of racists. They are sexualized and corrupted, and many are groomed into the dark LGBT world, with almost 6,000 schools prohibiting parents from even hearing about their child’s transgender “transition.” In between all the far-left indoctrination and sexual corruption, teachers take time to scare children to death about the near-term end of life on earth due to “catastrophic climate change.” Another lie. But it’s all classic Marxism/communism, with even the “3 R’s” – reading, writing and arithmetic – now being corrupted with “woke,” “1984”-style madness.
Perhaps never has the true threat of today’s U.S. public school system been exposed as in the sensational April issue of WND’s critically acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled “THE GREATEST BETRAYAL: How Marxism and madness have taken over America’s public school system.” Whistleblower is available in both the popular print edition and a state-of-the-art digital version, either single issues or discounted annual subscriptions.
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