Supreme Court: Anybody Can Now Sue Anybody for Dirtying the Environment
HNN December 14, 2017 (excerpt)
...The state Supreme Court has ruled that Hawaii residents can sue to defend their rights to a “clean and healthful” environment under the Hawaii Constitution.
By a 3-to-2 vote, the court found that the Sierra Club should have been allowed a contested case hearing when the Public Utilities Commission reauthorized use of the Puunene sugar mills power plant.
Members of the Sierra Club wanted to intervene because they complained that the Puunene plant was burning coal and petroleum along with sugar cane waste to generate power….
The court ruled that the state Constitution gives residents a property interest in a clean and healthful environment, which means projects or policy that threatens that right can be attacked in court….
Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald and Associate Justice Paula Nakayama dissented from the majority opinion, saying that establishing a property right for a clean environment could have unintended consequences and uncertainty. (Understatement of the year.)
They also said the Sierra Club had other avenues it could have pursued in the case against the Puunene Plant….
read … Court: Hawaii residents can sue to defend their right to 'clean, healthful' environment
PDF: Majority Opinion (53 pgs)
PDF: Dissenting Opinion (20 pgs)
You Were Warned: Enviros win 90% in Hawaii Supreme Court
* * * * *
Chaos is Coming: You can sue too—Here are some ideas:
1) Sue Sierra Club and all other anti-Superferry protesters for forcing Hawaii residents to use dirty CO2 belching airplanes instead of the clean green Superferry.
2) Sue the homeless for being dirty and sue the ACLU for preventing us from locking them up in insane asylums like we used to.
3) Sue anti-Vaxxers for spreading the mumps throughout Hawaii.
4) Sue anti-GMO protesters for forcing farmers to use more pesticides and for dirtying up Hawaii with their ignorant protests.
5) Sue recyclers for spewing CO2 into the atmosphere by transporting trash ‘recyclables’ to China and California.
6) Sue biofuel producers for chopping down the rainforest and for driving up utility bills which increases poverty which is dirty.
7) Sue windfarms for murdering bats and birds and for driving up utility bills which increases poverty which is dirty.
8) Sue anti-dairy protesters for forcing you to buy milk imported from the Mainland thus spewing CO2 across the ocean.
9) Sue anti-fishing activists for attempting to force you to buy fish imported from the Mainland, thus spewing CO2 across the ocean.
10) Sue the HGEA for enabling so-called workers to play solitaire on their computers all day long, thus consuming electricity which is produced by filthy disgusting fossil fuels.
11) Sue the City and County of Honolulu for building rail instead of adding lanes, thus increasing traffic jams and spewing more CO2 into the air.
* * * * *
Hawai‘i High Court Affirms Citizens’ Right to Protect Environmental Interests Before State Public Utilities Commission
Declares Due Process Interest in Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment
News Release from Hawaii Sierra Club and EarthJustice, December 14, 2017
HONOLULU — Today, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruled that the state constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment gives citizens the right to be heard and protect their environmental interests in cases before the state Public Utilities Commission. The appeal, brought by Earthjustice on behalf of the Sierra Club, challenged the Commission’s denial of Sierra Club’s request to intervene in a case involving a proposed agreement by Maui Electric Company (MECO) to buy power from the former Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) plantation’s coal-fired power plant.
The ruling resolves long-running inconsistencies among Commission decisions on environmental groups’ requests to take part in Commission proceedings, which are increasing in frequency and complexity in light of Hawai‘i’s statutory mandate to achieve an energy grid powered by 100% renewable energy by 2045.
“It is vital that citizens have a seat at the table as Hawai‘i advances toward 100% clean energy,” said Earthjustice attorney Kylie Wager Cruz. “The Court provided much-needed confirmation that the Commission can’t simply rubberstamp utility deals without considering and protecting the public’s constitutionally protected environmental rights.”
The Hawai‘i Supreme Court held that Sierra Club had a due process right to be heard to protect its environmental interests under Article XI, section 9 of the Hawai‘i Constitution, which declares that “[e]ach person has the right to a clean and healthful environment.” The Court further held that state law required the Commission to consider the “hidden and long-term costs of energy produced at the [HC&S] Plant, including the potential for increased air pollution as a result of greenhouse gas emissions” in determining whether the agreement was prudent and in the public interest.
“The Commission can no longer ignore us. We will continue to oppose dirty fossil fuels and push for a just transition to clean, renewable energy in our state,” said Sierra Club of Hawai‘i Director Marti Townsend.
The HC&S plant was burning up to 25% coal over the course of a year to meet its power production obligations to MECO. In 2014, the state Department of Health assessed a $1.3 million fine against HC&S for more than 400 clean air violations at the plant. HC&S closed in January 2017.
IM: Hawai`i Supreme Court Rules Against Public Utilities Commission re Sierra Club v. MECO & HC&S
CHN: Hawaii Residents Can Defend Their Environmental Rights in Court