Environment Government Legal, Laws, and Regs

Sackett vs EPA

I received a CD with Administrative Record documents I requested via FOIA from the EPA. These documents were submitted by the EPA based on a request from the Sacketts in the Sackett et al vs. Johnson et al court case, otherwise known as the Sackett vs. the EPA. This case received a very narrow decision in the Supreme Court last year. I’ve retrieved most of the PACER court documents and am planning on posting these this week.

Thankfully, the Administrative Record documents came with a spreadsheet index, which I converted to a basic HTML table (Sacketts vs. the EPA Administrative Record Documents). Much simpler to post online when you don’t have to individually link the large titled PDFs.

An interesting thing about the Administrative Record documents is the photos. I’m not a geologist, but I found the photos of the Sacketts’ lot to be rather convincing that yes, they were filling in a wetlands. In addition, the Sacketts’ neighbors were the ones to file a complaint because, evidently, the work the Sacketts were doing was causing water to back up into the neighbor’s place.

The Sacketts claimed ignorance of the need to see if they required a Clear Water Act permit before filling in their property. I find this less than credible when you consider that the Sacketts run an excavation and construction business. In addition, there’s also the fact that the previous owners were aware the land was designated a wetlands.

Interesting what you can find with a simple FOIA request. Which, by the way, the EPA responded to quickly and efficiently.

I’ll have more on this case at a different web site (since this one is about document access) when I have all the pieces (and I have the extra time). In the mean time, feel free to explore the Admin Record documents, and the court documents later in the week. You can definitely find out more about the case just by searching on “Sackett vs EPA” online.

Documents Legal, Laws, and Regs

An Open PACER: an effective demonstration

I wrote earlier (An Open PACER) that we don’t need a formalized open alternative to PACER, all we need do is post court documents with appropriate labels, and the search engines become the alternative system.

This week I became aware of another case I wanted to follow: Trumpeter Swan Society et al vs. the EPA. Several environmental groups are suing the EPA for not doing enough to eliminate lead bullets. Lead in bullets causes significant harm to endangered wild birds and other wild life.

I found the Docket entries for the case, but before downloading any documents, did a search in Google on the case name. Among the results is what looks to be an NRA related site opposing this lawsuit that also provides access to most of the court filings.

I don’t have to agree with the site and it doesn’t have to agree with me about which side is dancing with the angels in this case. What’s important is we both agree the PACER documents should be easily and freely available. I’ve now copied the documents and will post links of my own—helping to ensure access to these documents in the future.

Documents Legal, Laws, and Regs

Open Law Journals

I discovered another very open law journal, the Georgetown Law Journal. I found it when following a link from the New York Time’s Mark Bittman to Combating Obesity with a Right to Nutrition, which I immediately snagged for my personal use.

I’ve added The Georgetown Law Library to my Open Document Sites sidebar links. Now excuse me while I go read what promises to be a fascinating writing.