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NaturePolicies & Politics

Supreme Court: Citizens Can't Sue to Protect Federal Land

The United States Supreme Court ruled today that environmental groups do not have legal standing to sue against the logging or environmental destruction of federal land.

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“Broad concerns shared by all citizens, like an interest in ‘good government’ or in the ‘health of the forests,’ are not sufficient to establish standing,” Justice Antonin Scalia noted, writing for the court’s 5-4 majority vote.

The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Earth Island Institute that claimed the Forest Service violated the 1992 Appeals Reform Act by not allowing public comment in situations that the service believes have little environmental impact. The specific issue of the suit — a sale of salvaged timber after a wildfire in the Sequoia National Forest — has already been settled years ago, but the court’s ruling now sets a precedent for future cases.

The groups tried everything to convince the court that their interests were at stake in cases where the Forest Service decides to log on federal land. One activist said they planned to visit the forest and therefor its preservation was his concern, but Scalia didn’t buy it.

What does this mean for the environmental movement? If all legal avenues to protect federal land are being blocked, does this mean more radical action needs to be taken in the future?

Via: McClatchy
Photo Credit: Alaskan Dude on Flickr under Creative Commons license.



One comment
  1. jambalya

    It is about time these interest groups with their own private law firms have to be held to the same standing requirements that every other entity is held to. As far as other methods, more radical action, bring it on. Millions of people have been directly impacted by environmental lawsuits I am sure they would LOVE a little radical action.

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