CSE houses a team of experienced law fellows and expert witnesses that can help organizations hold public agencies accountable for their commitments to protect the environment, foster equity, and provide meaningful opportunities for public participation. We help develop and coordinate litigation strategies that advance sustainability initiatives and guard against threats to the quality of our environment and economy. Our fellows litigate under statues such as the federal National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act, Clean Water Act, Freedom of Information Act and their state level counterparts. Our experts bolster their work by supplying declarations in the fields of environmental economics, conservation biology, and planning.
Some recent examples of our litigation support work include:
Center for Sustainable Economy vs. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, DC Circuit Court, CIV: 12-1431
Center for Sustainable Economy has filed its opening brief in a lawsuit to halt the Obama Administration's latest 5-year program to open new areas offshore to oil and gas leasing. Authorized by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the new 5-year program is the first since the Gulf oil disaster. The lawsuit was filed in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit argues that incomplete and flawed economic analysis led BOEM to rush ahead with new offshore leases that may not be economically justified in violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and National Environmental Policy Act. CSE also contends that by failing to account for the option to wait to lease offshore resources BOEM has subjected the American public to a higher risk of catastrophic spills while failing to maximize benefits from lease sales. CSE is represented in the lawsuit by environmental attorney Steven Sugarman and Michael Livermore of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law. Read:
American Bird Conservancy and Forest Conservation Council vs. Federal Communications Commission, Docket # 06-1165, D.C. District Court of Appeals
Center for Sustainable Economy (formerly Forest Conservation Council) and its co-plaintiff American Bird Conservancy won a major legal battle in their eight year campaign to protect migratory birds at cell towers authorized by the Federal Communications Commission. On February 19th, 2007 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion vacating a 2006 Order by the FCC denying CSE and ABC's 2002 petition seeking environmental review and mitigation of over 6,000 cell towers illegally authorized in the Gulf Coast region. The Court agreed with petitioners that the FCC's Order violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act. Importantly, the ruling opens the door to public participation in the cell tower authorization process, mitigation of cumulative impacts, and consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when proposed towers jeopardize endangered birds. Read:
Forest Conservation Council et al. v. United States Forest Service, Appeal No. 05-35166.
CSE (formerly Forest Conservation Council) and seven other plaintiffs seek to compel the U.S. Forest Service to consider the wide range of ecosystem service benefits associated with unlogged forests as well as the externalized costs of logging when the agency prepares timber sales and other management activities on national forest lands. Without considering these benefits and costs, Forest Service decisions are biased in favor of logging. Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction was denied in 2007 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but may be re-filed once the U.S. Forest Service issues final decisions on a range of timber sales and land management plans currently working their way through the administrative process.
Center for Sustainable Economy v. U.S. Department of Treasury, Case Number 6:09-cv-848, U.S. District Court, New Mexico.
The CSE lawsuit against the United States Department of the Treasury over records related to General Motors has settled. After a year of negotiation, Treasury released records to CSE under the Freedom of Information Act disclosing serious environmental concerns over operations of General Motors facilities, which are now partially owned by the federal government. Records show that General Motors facilities have significant environmental remediation liabilities totaling over $536 million, and a host of outstanding allegations of non-compliance with environmental laws over hazardous materials and pollution of air and water. And because there are now federal actions involved with day to day management of GE now involves federal decision making, CSE believes that Treasury must comply with federal environmental laws and help transform GE into a cleaner, more environmentally sustainable company. Read: