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Mike Sackett remembers what he thought when he saw the eye-popping fines of more than $30,000 a day that the Environmental Protection Agency was threatening to impose on him over a piece of Idaho property worth less than one day's penalty.

"If they do this to us, we're going to lose everything we have," Sackett said.

The EPA said that Sackett and his wife, Chantell, illegally filled in most of their 0.63-acre lot with dirt and rocks in preparation for building a home. The agency said the property is a wetlands that cannot be disturbed without a permit. The Sacketts had none.

They say they considered walking away from the property, near scenic Priest Lake, and a difficult fight with the federal government. Instead, they went to court and now the Supreme Court is hearing their case, with implications well beyond their property.

The justices are considering how and when people can challenge the kind of order the Sacketts got. The EPA issues nearly 3,000 administrative compliance orders a year that call on alleged violators of environmental laws to stop what they're doing and repair the harm they've caused.

Major business groups, homebuilders, road builders and agricultural interests all have joined the Sacketts in urging the court to make it easier to contest EPA compliance orders issued under several environmental laws.

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