Sackett v. EPA (2023)

Case Brief: Sackett v. EPA (2023)

Issue: Whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determination that a landowner has violated the Clean Water Act by discharging pollutants without a permit into navigable waters is immediately judicially reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act, and whether the EPA’s decision not to make a formal jurisdictional determination about whether the landowners’ property contained “waters of the United States” is subject to the same immediate judicial review.

Rule: The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) allows for judicial review of final agency actions. The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant by any person, except as in compliance with various sections of the Act, including obtaining a permit for discharging into navigable waters.

Application: The Sacketts must establish that the EPA’s compliance order constitutes a final agency action under the APA and that no statutory provisions preclude judicial review. They must also demonstrate that the EPA has made a clear jurisdiction determination that their property contains “waters of the United States,” which then falls under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

Conclusion: The Court must decide if the EPA’s compliance order is a final agency action that is subject to judicial review, and if the EPA’s refusal to issue a formal jurisdictional determination regarding the Sacketts’ property can be challenged in court.

Detailed IRAC Outline


  • Detailed issue identification, specifically focusing on whether the EPA’s actions regarding the Sacketts’ property and the subsequent compliance order are final and if they are subject to immediate judicial review under the APA.
  • Exploration of the definition and scope of “navigable waters” or “waters of the United States” and how this affects the Sacketts’ property under the Clean Water Act.


  • Examination of the provisions of the APA that pertain to judicial review of agency actions, including the requirement of a final agency action.
  • Analysis of the relevant sections of the Clean Water Act, particularly the definition of “navigable waters” and the requirements for obtaining discharge permits.
  • Review of precedent cases that have interpreted what constitutes a final agency action and the scope of judicial review available under the APA.


  • A detailed examination of the facts leading up to the EPA’s issuance of the compliance order to the Sacketts.
  • Analysis of the EPA’s process in determining the presence of navigable waters and the application of the Clean Water Act to the Sacketts’ property.
  • Consideration of the arguments made by the Sacketts regarding the finality of the compliance order and their contention that they have the right to an immediate judicial review of the EPA’s actions.
  • Investigation of the EPA’s position on the matter, including its arguments against immediate judicial review and its interpretation of the Clean Water Act’s applicability to the Sacketts’ property.


  • A restatement of the core legal question regarding the justiciability of the EPA’s compliance order and the availability of judicial review for the Sacketts.
  • The Court’s analysis and decision on whether the EPA’s compliance order is a final agency action and if the Sacketts can seek judicial review under the APA.
  • Implications of the Court’s decision on future cases concerning the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act and the reviewability of EPA actions.

Please note that the outcome of the case will depend on the specific facts presented and the legal reasoning applied by the Court. Without information on the actual 2023 decision, the above represents a generic outline for the hypothetical study of the Sackett v. EPA case.

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