Environmental mishaps occur from time to time. Occasionally court cases come about from these happenings. Here are the top 10 environmental litigation law suites that caught my eye. Some of them were based on previous cases from long ago, which were then used to determine a suitable outcome, while others were completely new cases all together. 10. Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council – 2008 The US Navy wanted to use sonar while drilling underwater, but environmentalists were afraid the sonar would affect the whales. The court decided the Navy could use sonar if mitigation measures were used. 9. United States v. Dion – 1986 Despite Bald Eagles begin protected by the Endangered Species Act, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota shot and killed 4 Bald Eagles while on the Yankton Sioux reservation. The act is supposed to protect the eagles, but tribe members are allowed to hunt eagle on the reservation. Dion, the tribe member felt it was his right to hunt the eagles, but the court felt he should have obeyed the Endangered Species Act. 8. Sierra Club v. Morton – 1972 The Sierra Club wanted to block a building permit for the development of Mineral King close to Sequoia National Park. The Supreme Court thought the Sierra Club didn’t really have grounds to sue. 7. Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency – 2007 The petitioners in this case felt carbon dioxide should be considered an air pollutant under the Clean Air Act and should be regulated. The EPA hadn’t been monitoring carbon dioxide because it wasn’t sure if it actually caused global warming. The petitioners felt it should be regulated anyway. In the end, the court required the EPA to begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions. 6. Kleppe v. New Mexico – 1976 An Act was passed in 1971 to protect roaming horses and burros from being captured, branded, harassed, or put to death. Despite this Act, the New Mexico Livestock Board rounded up and sold 19 burros. These animals were collected from land owned by the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM demanded that the burros be returned. Since the board went onto BLM land to get the burros, the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was deemed constitutional under the Property Clause, so the Board was in the wrong by taking the burros in the first place. 5. Jackson v. Attorney General – 2005 The majority of hunting with dogs was illegal, except for some limited circumstances. The ban on hunting of wild animals by using dogs was mainly for fox hunting and hare coursing. Jackson thought the Hunting Act was invalid. If Jackson’s claim was proved correct, then all additional Acts passed under the 1949 Act would also not be valid. The House of Lords rejected this claim and deemed the Hunting Act to be valid. 4. Dolan v. city of Tigard – 1994 Ms. Dolan sought a permit from the city of Tigard, Oregon to make some alterations to her hardware store. She wanted to pave the parking lot and expand the store a bit. The city planning commission told Dolan she could make those improvements if she also made a bicycle pathway and a walkway for pedestrians and dedicated a portion of land to a public greenway for them to be built. The court ruled against this and stated it was unconstitutional to ask Ms. Dolan to have to do make those additional adjustments in order to receive her permit. 3. Commonwealth v. Tasmania – 1983 The government of Tasmania wanted a hydro-electric dam to be built on the Gordon River, but groups of environmentalists and the Australian federal government didn’t agree. Claims that the federal government was following section 51 of the constitution of Australia were disputed by the Tasmanian government. The result of the decision was that it was valid for the construction of the dam to be banned. 2. Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe – 1971 The Secretary of Transportation in Memphis, Tennessee decided to run a portion of Interstate 40 right through Overton Park. There was no longer the power of eminent domain, so the government had to prove there was no other route to take and that the road had to go through the park. The court eventually ruled that the park property was to be given a higher importance of protection and the road needed to be routed elsewhere. 1. Chemical Waste Management, Inc. v. Hunt – 1992 A law in Alabama stated that a fee was to be charged on hazardous waste from out-of-state that was being brought into the state of Alabama for disposal. The court deemed this law to be discriminatory against commerce from out-of-state. The court felt that the law would block the free flow of interstate trade, which was unacceptable. What additional cases were more memorable to you than these top 10 environmental litigation law suites?
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