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More on the issue of standing in environmental citizen suits

In our last post, we continued our discussion about new EPA rules pertaining to coal ash emissions, briefly discussing the basic requirements citizens must meet in order to initiate a “citizen suit” to have an environmental regulation enforced. As we noted, these requirements constitute what is called standing.

In addition to the three requirements we mentioned last time, a private citizen hoping to enforce and environmental regulation must also be able to show that his or her injury is within the “zone of interests” which the statute was designed to protect. The idea is to only permit litigation from plaintiffs who are going to further the purposes of the statute. The plaintiff’s interest in filing the suit must, in other words, be reasonably related to the policies which underlie the statute. 

In addition to the above, to show standing, a plaintiff must also be able to show that his or her interests are unique to him or her rather than applicable to the general public. This could be said to be somewhat related to the injury-in-fact requirement in the sense that the injury must be specific to the plaintiff.

Associations or organizations may have standing to enforce an environmental law, and there are separate tests that associations must meet to prove standing.

Any individual or organization who aims to have an environmental law enforced should really work with an experienced attorney in doing so. This allows them to have the necessary advice and guidance with respect to the law and the navigating the court system, and the advocacy necessary to prove their case.

Source: Stack & Associates, P.C., “Land Use and Growth in Georgia: Clean Water Act Issues Seminar,” Jan 12, 2009. 

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