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Lawsuits Against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Ever since Congress created the United States Environmental Protection Agency (or “EPA”) in 1970, one of the Agency’s primary functions has been the enforcement of lawsuits brought against companies and, in some cases, individuals. The EPA has filed thousands of lawsuits all across the country, seeking to enforce legislative edicts that include the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (a.k.a. Superfund or CERCLA). But what happens when the tables are turned? What happens when the EPA is the defendant? Is bringing such a lawsuit even possible? Experienced New Jersey and New York environmental lawyers can answer these questions.

Piercing the government’s immunity

Governments are generally immune from lawsuits and allegations of egregious conduct. If a government’s decision or regulation adversely affects your interests, there is may be little that can be done outside of the political realm. There are a few exceptions, which may help explain the studied increase in lawsuits against the EPA. Some environmental laws specifically authorize aggrieved persons and entities to sue the EPA, whether the plaintiff believes that the EPA’s actions are too much or not enough. 

Just because there is a law prohibiting a certain activity, does not mean this law is fairly enforced, necessitating an “agency-forcing,” or “deadline,” or “citizen” suit. Just as a lawsuit may be needed to force private persons and companies to take required action, environmental lawyers may need to bring a lawsuit to spur the EPA into action.

What a lawsuit accomplishes

 If the governing statute allows such a procedure, an aggrieved individual or organization may find that filing a lawsuit against the EPA may be a good course of action for several reasons, including:

  • Action  Environmental litigation against the EPA has the capacity to catapult the agency into action. As a result of litigation, the EPA may be required to change certain rules or regulations, take a different approach to enforcement, and possibly pay attorneys fees and costs.
  • Attention  While the outcome of a lawsuit if never certain, a legitimate grievance can garner more Agency attention when it becomes the topic of litigation. For example, our New Jersey and New York environmental lawyers take steps to increase public and press attention on the issue at hand.  Press releases and conferences often follow the filing of an EPA lawsuit.  Many of our clients are successful in increasing awareness and attention, and in those cases, the litigation outcome may be secondary. A loss in court is still a victory.

While there is never a guarantee of success in any legal situation, a lawsuit against the EPA may be the tool your organization needs to accomplish its goals.

Contact a results-driven New Jersey environmental law firm

 At Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich we have a long track record of success. We are proud to represent individuals and organizations to achieve various goals in the environmental realm. We understand your issues and work tirelessly to achieve lasting results.

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