Friday, July 27, 2012

D.C. Circuit Rules For Public Health And Against Tobacco Companies

In the latest step to hold the major tobacco companies accountable for decades of fraud on the American people, today the D.C. Circuit affirmed two lower court rulings in a long-running lawsuit the United States has pursued against the companies for more than a decade.  In this round, the companies argued that the district court’s findings and remedies in connection with their 50-years of fraud should be set aside in light of the 2009 legislation which gave the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate cigarettes.  Rejecting all of the defendants’ arguments, the D.C. Circuit ruled that the district court’s overwhelming findings of fraud supported the conclusion that misconduct will continue despite the new law.  The Court also rejected the companies’ effort to restrict the tobacco marketing data that the Department of Justice may review to monitor the companies’ compliance with the Court’s ruling.  We represent six public health organizations, including the American Cancer Society and Tobacco-Free Kids, who intervened in the suit to advocate for strong and effective remedies, and participated in both of the appeals resolved today.  The two opinions are available here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Emergency Petition Submitted To USFS To Maintain Burnt Mountain's Roadlessness

Yesterday, on behalf of The Ark Initiative, we submitted an emergency petition to the U.S. Forest Service requesting that the agency revisit an erroneous roadless determination on Burnt Mountain near the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness Area in Colorado.  The practical effect of this error is that a private company, which has received authorization from the Service to conduct tree cutting and other irreversible activities in this parcel based on the error, plans to imminently begin felling trees and thus permanently destroy the roadless characteristics and wilderness qualities of this unique parcel of public land.  We have requested a response from the Service by the end of the week.  The petition can be found here.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Court Rejects NPS's Attempt To Open Destructive ORV Trails In Big Cypress

Yesterday, a federal district court ruled that the National Park Service ("NPS") and Fish and Wildlife Service violated several environmental laws (NEPA, ESA, and the Park Service Organic Act, among others) when NPS opened sensitive areas of the Bear Island Unit of the Big Cypress National Preserve to off-road vehicle use that the same agency had expressly forbidden seven years earlier.  Because the agencies provided no coherent explanation for changing their course of action to allow ORV use in these areas, which the agencies anticipated would adversely affect water, vegetation, and federally protected wildlife, the court set aside the decision and thus closed all of these trails to ORV use within 14 days.  The decision can be found here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lawsuit Filed To Protect Grand Staircase Escalate National Monument

On behalf of Western Watershed Project, we filed a lawsuit in federal district court in D.C. on Friday challenging the failure of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to protect resources in the spectacular Grand Staircase Escalate National Monument in southern Utah.  Public lands grazing is seriously degrading portions of the Monument.  Although six years ago BLM identified specific actions that must be taken to address this problem, these actions have never occurred.  Through the lawsuit plaintiffs seek a Court Order directing that BLM finally carry out these specific actions.  A copy of the Complaint is here.