Monday, October 27, 2014

Brief Filed Asking Court To Dismiss Ranchers’ Suit Seeking Wild Horse Round-Ups

On behalf of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, Utah photographer John Steele, and wild horse advocate Lisa Friday, we filed a motion asking the federal district court in Utah to dismiss a case brought by the Western Rangeland Conservation Association and Utah livestock owners against the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The ranchers seek to compel BLM to remove from both public and private lands in Utah hundreds of federally protected wild horses that compete with privately-owned livestock for water and forage on the range.  The livestock owners have “permits” that allow them to graze cattle and sheep on public lands, subsidized by the federal taxpayers. These grazing interests ask the court to order the removal of wild horses even though BLM has not determined that any “excess” wild horses exist in these areas. In its response to the ranchers’ suit, the government denies wild horses are damaging rangeland resources in these areas. A copy of the brief filed seeking dismissal can be found here.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lawsuit Filed Over California Energy Project That Threatens Regional Golden Eagle Population in Southern California

This week, we filed suit in federal court on behalf of the nonprofit Protect Our Communities Foundation and two backcountry landowners and naturalists seeking a court order that would require the Bureau of Indian Affairs to comply with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act in connection with the agency’s authorization of a lease to build an industrial wind energy project on BIA-administered lands in Southern California. Among other concerns, the project’s siting design has been repeatedly criticized by federal and state wildlife agencies as presenting an extremely high risk to federally protected golden eagles – concerns that BIA has never addressed in any public process analyzing the project’s anticipated environmental impacts or siting/operational changes that could significantly reduce eagle mortality. A copy of the complaint can be found here, and press on the filing of the lawsuit can be found here: http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/wind/group-sues-over-wind-project-threat-to-eagles.html

Monday, September 22, 2014

NPS Settles Suit and Curbs ORV Use in Big Cypress National Preserve

Today, we entered into a settlement agreement with the National Park Service (“NPS”) on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, and South Florida Wildlands Association, in which NPS agreed to close all secondary off-road vehicle (“ORV”) trails in the Turner River Unit and the Corn Dance Unit of Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve.  The coalition of conservation organizations brought suit in 2013 after NPS opened more than 100 miles of secondary trails without conducting any analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, the NPS Organic Act, the Endangered Species Act, or other federal environmental laws.  After the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that NPS could not avoid judicial review of its legal violations merely by starting a belated environmental review process while ORV use continued to destroy the Preserve’s sensitive natural resources, NPS agreed to settle the lawsuit without further court intervention by closing the unlawfully opened trails.  A press release on the settlement can be found here: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/big-cypress-09-22-2014.html  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Journal Article Details Big Tobacco’s Ongoing Document Disclosure Obligations

Tobacco Control, an international peer-reviewed journal, has recently published an article co-authored by Howard Crystal detailing Big Tobacco’s ongoing document disclosure obligations stemming from a 2006 ruling on the companies’ massive consumer fraud concerning the health effects and addictiveness of cigarettes. We represent a coalition of public health groups – including Tobacco-Free Kids and American Cancer Society – who have vigorously pursued strong remedies as Intervenors in that lawsuit, including ongoing and accessible disclosures of internal tobacco company documents. As detailed in the article – titled Transparency as a remedy against racketeering: preventing and restraining fraud by exposing Big Tobacco’s dirty secrets – under a 2011 Order the companies will publicly disclose documents produced in smoking and health litigation until 2021, and those materials will be readily accessible through enhanced website search tools funded by the companies, as well as at a document depository in Minnesota. 
The full article is available here: ttp://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/cgi/rapidpdf/tobaccocontrol-2014-051749?ijkey=rO08K0hpORzzz7B&keytype=ref

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

D.C. CIRCUIT BRIEF FILED IN SUPPORT OF HEARING RIGHTS IN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT RELICENSING

On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, we filed a brief in the D.C. Circuit this week seeking to overturn the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) ruling that residents living near nuclear power plants have no right to participate in relicensing decisions, even where they possess significant new information. In the specific decision at issue, the NRC is considering whether to renew the license for the Limerick nuclear plant near Philadelphia.  NRDC and its members sought to present evidence showing how Limerick could cost-effectively reduce the severity of a catastrophic nuclear accident, but the NRC refused to let them participate.  We are asking the Court to reverse the NRC and rule that the agency must provide a hearing on these issues. Our brief is here.

SUMMARY DISPOSITION SOUGHT IN URANIUM MINING PROCEEDING

On behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we recently filed a brief before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) seeking a favorable resolution of NRDC’s challenge to a massive uranium mining operation proposed for Crook County, Wyoming.  Although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) prepared an Environmental Impact Statement on the mining project, the agency has refused to establish baseline water quality levels, or to evaluate the extent to which the project is likely to degrade water quality, on the ground that these issues can be considered after the mining license is issued.  Because this approach violates the National Environmental Policy Act, our motion seeks to force the agency to consider these vital matters before mining operations commence.  Our brief is here.

BRIEF FILED OPPOSING R.J. REYNOLDS’ EFFORT TO DILUTE CORRECTIVE STATEMENTS EXPOSURE

Now that the district court has approved the implementation plan for the "corrective statements" remedy in the long running consumer fraud suit against the major tobacco companies, R.J. Reynolds (RJR) is seeking to dilute that remedy, arguing that it should not be required to run a television advertisement in its capacity as the successor to Brown and Williamson (B&W) – one of the original defendants in the suit.  The Court ordered that "each defendant" run a television ad telling the truth about cigarettes once per week for a year, but RJR asserts that because it merged with B&W pre-judgment, the ruling does not apply to that company.  Our brief, on behalf of the Public Health Intervenors (six major public health groups, including Tobacco-Free Kids and American Cancer Society) explains RJR’s argument is untimely because it should have been raised in the original appeal in 2008, and that in any event the Court was well within its authority in directing RJR to run two television ads, given that it now markets and sells both its own cigarette brands, such as Camel, and those formerly sold by B&W, such as Kool and Pall Mall.  Our brief is here.