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Citizen Suits 30 Years On Based on James May’s article, Now More Than Ever...” Widener L. Rev. (2003)

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Presentation on theme: "Citizen Suits 30 Years On Based on James May’s article, Now More Than Ever...” Widener L. Rev. (2003)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Citizen Suits 30 Years On Based on James May’s article, Now More Than Ever...” Widener L. Rev. (2003)

2 May’s Bottom Line: “The experiment worked”  Removed billions of pounds of pollutants  Protected hundreds of RTE species  Saved taxpayers billions  Defended thousands of acres of land

3 Trends in Notices of Intent  total NOI = 125  Early 1980s NOI = 100/year  NOI = 550/year (2 per business day), exceeding EPA referrals

4 Trends in Filings  More than 2000 cases (total) have been filed  Equivalent to one filing per week  426 filed since 1995—declining rate (Laidlaw?), but some rebound  3 out of every 4 Environmental Law opinions is in a citizen suit

5 Trends in Plaintiffs  Early ’80s—nearly all plaintiffs were environmental groups (Oh, really?)  Now—1 case in 3 brought by companies, landowners, developers, industry, states

6 Reactions of Enforcement Agencies  Federal agencies enforcing less  State agencies enforcing much less  DOJ enforcing less  Sweetheart settlements

7 Reactions of the Judiciary  Limited constitutional defenses (standing, sep. of powers), but--  Strict notice requirements  Diligent prosecution liberally construed  Strict construction of mandatory duties (statutory mandate plus time limit)  Limited relief  Limited fees

8 Why are citizen suits a good thing?  Hold bureaucracies accountable, motivate action  Uphold bicameral lawmaking and tripartite governance  Enhance public participation  Enforce the Rule of Law


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