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Environmental Lawsuits

Lawsuit challenges Obama Administration’s new “waters of United States” power grab

PLF lawsuit on WOTUS

Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) lawsuit challenges Obama Administration’s new
“waters of United States” power grab

SACRAMENTO, CA; July 15, 2015: On behalf of a number of landowners and major organizations representing landowners, including the state cattlemen’s associations of California, Washington, and New Mexico, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) sued the Obama Administration today over its vast new expansion of Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction — an expansion that could bring virtually all the nation’s water and much of the land under direct federal regulatory control.

M. Reed Hopper
Principal Attorney
Anthony Francois
Senior Staff Attorney

SPECIFICALLY, the lawsuit seeks invalidation of the new regulatory rule defining the “waters of the United States” that are subject to CWA jurisdiction. Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, the rule is illegal — and unconstitutional — because it sets no limit on the CWA’s reach, while explicitly expanding it to waters that the Supreme Court has already ruled to be off-limits to federal control. Continue reading

Landowners express anger over water rights issue that blocks their ability to build

By Shannen Kuest
Skagit Valley Herald

The meeting was called by the Skagit chapter of the Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights.

About 120 people filled the American Legion Hall on Tuesday night to discuss the water and property rights issues facing Skagit County. Among them were property owners and Alliance members, who took the state’s 2001 instream flow rule to task.

When some at the meeting suggested building on their properties without county permission, one audience member shouted, “To hell with the county!”

Continue reading

Feds sued for blocking thousands of recreational routes in Plumas National Forest

The victims include all citizen users of public lands — including the disabled

Pacific Legal Foundation
SACRAMENTO, CA;  March 18, 2015: Representing two California counties and a broad coalition of associations and individuals who value public access to national forests, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) today sued the federal government for acting to prohibit motorized travel on thousands of roads and trails in Plumas National Forest that have been used for decades for responsible and legally permissible recreational purposes.

Plumas National Forest is a 1,146,000-acre National Forest in the Sierra Nevada, in northern California.  The lawsuit argues that the U.S. Forest Service, a division of the Department of Agriculture, violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), by blocking access to much of Plumas National Forest without a careful, factually specific review of environmental impacts, including consequences for the public. Continue reading

Can a Well-Endowed “Endangered” Gopher Really Drive a Tractor?

Freedom Foundation

Posted 8/13/2014

This is Part 2 of a series about a new ESA micro-listing, and its impact on a rural community. Read Part 1 here

In Washington state’s Thurston County, bureaucrats won Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for a tiny cluster of pocket gophers because of their alleged super-sized penises. However, nobody but local officials appear to have seen this feature.  They have offered no proof of this endowment, nor does the ESA require such proof.

The federal government spent fifty years unsuccessfully trying to kill off the pocket gopher.  They breed uncontrollably under any conditions, and are the most destructive mammal to structures, pipes, underground cables, trees, crops, and the environment.  They breed prolifically on the Fort Lewis artillery impact range, and were one of the few species to survive the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. Continue reading

Judge permits timber harvest that environmentalists claim threatens marbled murrelet in Clallam and Jefferson counties

Article published Jun 15, 2014

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND, WA – 6/16/2014 — A Jefferson County judge has rejected a request for a temporary injunction against a state-approved harvest of 234 acres of timber on the West End adjacent to habitat of the threatened marbled murrelet.

After an hourlong presentation last week from attorneys on both sides of the issue, Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper ruled against the plaintiffs, permitting the timber harvest by Interfor, which has mills in Forks and Port Angeles. Continue reading

Big Green’s ‘sue-and-settle’ strategy draws pushback from states, Congress

By Ron Arnold | APRIL 1, 2014
Washington Examiner

Scott Pruitt is Oklahoma‘s attorney general and he’s fed up with Big Green’s outrageously destructive sue-and-settle attacks using endangered species as a weapon to obliterate America’s burgeoning oil and gas production.

Pruitt was so fed up that on March 17 he and a coalition of energy groups filed a pioneering lawsuit – The State of Oklahoma et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior – for collusion in violating federal law.

“Sue and settle” is the polite way to say that federal agency greenies invite old friends in Big Green groups to sue the agency so they can jointly select a species in, for example, oil and gas country, and go to court to “force” it to be listed as “endangered” or “threatened” so its range can be declared untouchable “critical habitat,” which stops production there. Continue reading

Environmental Lawyers and the Middle Class

Commentary by Charlie Crabtree
The Fourth Corner

Posted 1/12/2014
(original published on 7/9/2013)

All humans need food and water to survive…  The State Growth Management Board’s micromanaging will decide who has “rights” to water in Whatcom County… NOT common sense or our elected Whatcom County Council.

The Bellingham Herald has an article here on a “Growth Management Board” decision concerning water rights in Whatcom County.

The Herald’s headline is: “State board tells Whatcom County to impose restrictions on water use

Does the extremist Special Interest group FUTUREWISE control both sides of this important debate at the state Bureaucracy level? You Decide. Continue reading

How will fine for wind turbines killing birds affect Nevada wind projects?

by Thomas Mitchell
4th St 8

Posted 11/30/2013

One can’t help but wonder how a recent $1 million in fines and penalties levied against Duke Energy Renewables for killing migratory birds with its wind turbines in Wyoming will affect wind projects in Nevada.

In March, a golden eagle was found dead at the Spring Valley wind farm east of Ely, additionally the turbines there have killed a number of other birds and bats. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has taken no action yet against the wind farm’s owner Pattern Energy.

Duke Energy Renewables still has in the works an 87-turbine wind farm east of Searchlight. Might the prospects of additional million-dollar assessments at a facility near Lake Mohave, home to bald and golden eagles dampen the company’s ardor for the project? That would come on top of the fact the $12 billion wind production tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year and there has been no discussion of renewal. Also, Duke has yet to line up a buyer for the power the wind farm would produce and has said that the project will not go forward without such a buyer being lined up. Continue reading

Ecology: Lemire ruling confirms authority

Capital Press

Posted 8/18/2013

The Washington State Supreme Court’s 8-1 ruling against a Dayton, Wash., rancher reaffirms the Washington Department of Ecology’s authority to take action to prevent pollution to waters of the state, the department spokesperson says.

“It’s an affirmation of an authority we already thought we had,” said Kelly Susewind, water quality program manager. “It really means no change in the way we do business. We will continue to work with landowners and producers, preferably in a collaborative manner.” Continue reading

Judge delays release of Trinity water for Klamath salmon

Capital Press

Posted 8/14/2013


FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge has temporarily halted plans to release water from the Trinity River to protect Northern California salmon.

The Fresno Bee ( says the judge in Fresno halted Tuesday’s planned release and pushed it back to Friday so the court can have time to examine arguments by opponents.

The federal government plans to release up to 100,000 acre-feet of water from a reservoir in the next few weeks to protect salmon in the Klamath River, downstream from the Trinity. Continue reading

Hage Case goes back to Claims Court

Posted July 30, 2013

News & Updates | June 20, 2013

Monday, June 17th, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition to hear the Hage v. United States takings case overturned, in part, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2012 (Appellate Court).

The case, originally filed in 1991, by Wayne and Jean Hage, claimed the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management caused the taking of their ranch through regulations and physical confiscations of property. They received a landmark judgment that, with interest, totaled $14 million, plus attorney fees from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 2008 (Claims Court). The court awarded the Hages compensation for the taking of their range improvements, ditch rights-of-ways and the water that flowed from the federal lands to their private lands. The case was the first ever filed asserting the taking of private property rights on federal grazing allotments. Continue reading

Tales of Tyranny

Freedom Foundation

Posted 7/20/2013

Are you really free?

You might think: “Of course I am.” After all, no one’s telling you how to live, work, or act on a daily basis. Right?  

The reality might surprise you.  

Yesterday’s “American Dream” is today’s regulatory nightmare, where property owners are guilty until proven innocent, officials grant permits only to take them back again, and local communities that plan ahead get punished when the rules change. 

These are “Tales of Tyranny,” stories of people hurt by high-handed officials and short-sighted policies. It doesn’t have to be this way. The first step toward a solution is just spreading the word, showing examples of the personal costs that out-of-control government inflicts on regular people – people much like you. 

Now tell us: Are you really free?

Click here to view several stories about how environmental groups and bureaucracy is stopping people like you and me from using our own property.

PLF Wins Case Against Offsite Mitigation Extortion!

Posted 7/6/2013

Whatcom Excavator

Whatcom County, WA – In January WE shared news that the Supreme Court accepted a case fought by Pacific Legal Foundation related to wetlands mitigation for land disturbance, “Koontz v. St. Johns River Management District.”

We are happy to report that they won, and that nexus and proportionality really do matter.  


Additional information at the PLF site. Continue reading

Another Historic Victory for Property Owners


Supreme Court rules for PLF’s property rights case in Florida

 Pacific Legal Foundation

Posted 6/26/2013

Score another huge win for the nation’s property owners!

: A great victory for Pacific Legal Foundation and for all property owners to protect their property from the government interference!

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday inKoontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, Pacific Legal Foundation’s seventh consecutive victory at the High Court, gives clients Coy Jr. and Linda Koontz, and other property owners, assurances that government bureaucrats can’t use the land use permitting process as an excuse to shake them down.

Continue reading

California judge dismisses Endangered Species Act ‘Mega’ lawsuit

by Forrest Laws
Southwest Farm Press

Posted 5/6/2013

California – A U.S. District Court judge in California has ruled that two environmental activist groups did not prove the EPA awarded federal registrations for a host of crop protection chemicals that put endangered species at risk in a lawsuit they filed in 2011.

In granting a motion to dismiss the groups’ “Mega” lawsuit, Judge Joseph C. Spero said the plaintiffs — the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network North America — had not alleged specific government actions sufficient for the lawsuit to proceed. Continue reading

EPA releases more personal information, NCBA says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has continued to release confidential information about feedlots to environmentalists, according to a cattle industry group.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the agency has again admitted to sending out personal data about confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to three environmental groups.

“At this point, someone is either incapable or incompetent at their job, or this is being intentionally released,” said Ashley McDonald, deputy environmental counsel for NCBA. Continue reading

EPA won’t appeal – Federal judged ruled EPA overstepped bounds in trying to regulate stormwater

EPA won’t appeal courtroom win for Cuccinelli, Fairfax

Posted 3/17/2013

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not appeal a January ruling that handed Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II a courtroom victory over a federal agency he has tangled with more than once with since being elected to office in 2009.

A federal judge had ruled the EPA overstepped its bounds in trying to regulate stormwater in a Northern Virginia watershed — a ruling Mr. Cuccinelli says could have cost the state and Fairfax County upward of $300 million. Continue reading

Bainbridge Island, WA: Property owners group prepares for legal fight

Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
March 8, 2013 · 11:58 AM

Bainbridge Island, WA – The city’s update to the Shoreline Master Program spent months being hammered out by the Bainbridge Island Planning Commission. Now the city council is perched on a decision on the update of its regulations for seaside development amidst heavy public criticism.

Critics of the new rules are gearing up for a fight.

Island activist Gary Tripp has been amassing support for an assault on the proposed Shoreline Master Program.

Tripp manages an island listserv for interest groups around the island, and also oversees the Bainbridge Shoreline Homeowner’s blog. In a Feb. 20 email written to his followers, Tripp asked for financial donations in order to combat the city’s work on its Shoreline Master Program. Continue reading

Supreme Court gives timber industry victory against environmentalists

by Michal Conger
Washington Examiner

Posted 4/2/2013

The Supreme Court sided with the timber industry against environmentalists today in a ruling that loggers do not need a special Environmental Protection Agency permit because of gravel and dirt that can fall from logging roads into waterways.

The decision overturned a lower-court ruling that the runoff is the same as other industrial pollution and therefore requires a permit under the EPA’s Clean Water Act, according to Fox News. Continue reading

Montana Bill Would Define Hydro as Renewable Power

The Heartland Institute

Posted 4/22013

Montana Sen. Jim Keane (D-Butte) has filed legislation to define hydropower as a renewable power source for meeting Montana’s renewable power mandates. Keane’s bill follows similar legislation approved by the legislature in 2011 but vetoed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D).

Bipartisan Support
The Montana Senate approved Keane’s bill, SB 45, in overwhelming, bipartisan fashion by a vote of 46-4. The House concurred by a vote of 70-27. The real drama will be over whether Gov. Steve Bullock (D) vetoes the bill and, if he does, whether the legislature overrides a veto. Continue reading

Timber industry challenges spotted owl habitat

Posted 3/22/2013

Capital Press


GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A timber industry group has filed a lawsuit challenging the latest habitat protections for the northern spotted owl, a threatened species.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday against the secretary of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had no immediate comment.

American Forest Resource Council President Tom Partin says wildfire and barred owls pose a bigger threat to spotted owls than the loss of old growth forests to logging.

He adds that while the plan calls for some logging in owl habitat, the cost of extra consideration required by the Endangered Species Act makes the prospect unlikely.

The spotted owl has been the subject of intense legal and political battles over logging for decades.


Copyright 2013 The AP.

Appeals court weighs arguments in SE Oregon grazing case


Capital Press

Posted 3/6/2013

PORTLAND — Environmentalists want a federal appeals court to halt grazing on a half-million acres of public land in Oregon because they say cattle are hazardous to the sage grouse.

The Oregon Natural Desert Association claims that grazing threatens “irreparable harm” to the bird’s habitat in the Louse Canyon area of southeast Oregon overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The group recently asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to issue an injunction against grazing in 2013 to prevent multiple threats to the sage grouse, such as a potential outbreak of West Nile virus. Continue reading

Federal court dismisses suit against Elwha hatchery; tribe drops nonnative steelhead stocking plan

A federal judge has dismissed a suit against the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s hatchery plan as moot, and the tribe has terminated its plan to stock the Elwha with nonnative steelhead.

By Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times staff reporter

Posted 2/17/2013

A federal judge has thrown out a suit against the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s hatchery plan, and the tribe has backed away from stocking the Elwha River with nonnative steelhead.

The Elwha is at the center of the region’s long-running debate on hatcheries and their role in salmon recovery. A $325 million federal recovery project for the river is now under way, with one dam out of the river and another soon gone in the largest dam-removal project in history. With so much at stake, hatchery plans for the fish-recovery effort drew fire early. Continue reading

Sportsmen Groups Sue FWP Commission to Challenge Wolf Decision

Allege Commission Violated Constitutional Rights and Procedures
Posted 1/6/2013
Livingston, Montana – Today four sportsmen organizations and one rancher sued the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission (“FWP” or “Commission”) in state district court to challenge the Commission’s decision on Dec. 10, 2012 to close parts of Park County, Montana to wolf hunting and trapping. The lawsuit alleges the Commission closed wolf hunting without giving notice to the public in advance of the hearing, which violated the Montana Constitution and the Montana Administrative Procedure Act.
The Plaintiffs are Citizens for Balanced Use; Big Game Forever, LLC; the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association; Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife; and Alan Redfield. Redfield is a rancher in southern Park County and newly-elected member of the Montana House of Representatives. Continue reading

Environmental group sues over road maintenance

Capital Press

Posted 1/5/2013

An environmental group has accused the U.S. Bureau of Land Management of unlawfully clearing roads in eastern Oregon without studying the effects.

The Oregon Natural Desert Association has filed a legal complaint challenging the agency’s “landscape-scarring mechanical blading, grading, reconstruction and improvement” of 133 miles of roads on public land.

According to the complaint, the agency maintains these roads even though they’re often so overgrown, washed-out or eroded as to be functionally non-existent. Continue reading

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