2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: cduncan@slonet.org
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 12:57:05 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Suits by Environmental Groups and comments
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This article may be of interest :

By Roland Jones

ABCNEWS.com from TheStreet.com
NEW YORK, Jan. 21 

Citizens' pollution suits  a bane of every business and the stock in trade
of environmental activists  might soon be a more frequent experience for
U.S. companies.

At  least, that's what the business world is worrying about, following a
Supreme Court decision earlier this month. The ruling upheld the right of
private citizens to invoke federal environmental laws in suits designed to
stop companies from transgressing federal pollution laws. U.S. business
fear that the decision will make life less comfortable for them,
effectively opening the door to lawsuits form environmental groups.

Environmentalists disagree, arguing that citizens should retain the right
to sue potential polluters, especially when local environmental agencies
are unable or unwilling to keep them in check.

ABCNEWS.com : Businesses Fear Increased Suits by Environmental Groups

My personal comments:

I'm sorry to see people faced with environmental problems pushed to resort
to lawsuits for resolution, however, I would rather see effective lawsuits
than be faced with the repeated disregard for environment and health. There
is, however, other ways.  I can't say how much I applaud the efforts made
to establish Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs) across the nation to
address the cleanup issues involved with military bases that took place in
the '90's and should continue with renewed vigor. It is an honorable
attempt to address the overwhelming and tremendous pollution problem this
nation faces in a diplomatic fashion. From my experience as an ex- RAB
member I must say there was not a direct route to productive results from
the participation of the community, however, the importance of having the
ability to come together face to face with the polluters and the community
in a somewhat structured fashion was invaluable. I don't want to see RABs'
disappear out of frustration because then all that is left is lawsuits.
Lawsuits definitely have a place in environmental issues but let's enlarge
the forum whereby effective discussions and real communication can take
place. The potential for approaching the problems in this fashion has not
even begun to be realized. And every RAB that is closed down is a step in
the wrong direction. The question is HOW to make them work better not CAN
we make them work better or at all.

The solutions are not easy and most environmental problems come with either
no solution or very poor solutions (not to say that there aren't some very
specific and effective solutions out there but they are few and far between
and then how to apply them without creating more pollution or to make sure
that the solution doesn't cause another environmental disaster i.e. MBTE).
This is why there is an important need for the ability to talk, research,
develop, and understand each other and the issues which can become quite
complex ....I realize the abilities I just mentioned very often do not lead
to instant or dynamic changes but they are extremely important. While
lawsuits may prevent future pollution problems, or make industrial or
military projects think twice about how to proceed, try to find unpolluting
ways to proceed, and even set precedence, what they will ALSO do is create
opposing legislation that protects government and industry from lawsuits as
is already  evident in "8149". RABs and CABs (Community Advisory Boards)
should be upgraded on a national level to also prevent future pollution
problems and make industry of military think of ways to find unpolluting
ways to proceed without the "you push me I'll push back effect" of lawsuits.

The goal is not so much to destroy and punish people and groups as it is to
get sound effective solutions that work in a sustainable future.

My final point here is this:  Keep struggling to find ways to make RABs and
CABs work as well as or better than lawsuits and continue to bring to the
forefront all the devastation and suffering that has resulted from
irresponsible military and industrial activities.  Looking at the problems
with sound solutions in mind or ways to get sound solutions is paramount.
RABs and CABs can and do help. They certainly will be a valid productive
process on the hard road toward successful cleanups with carefully
developed legislation and community efforts. I applaud all the lawyers who
can apply their talents towards developing legislation that creates an
effective arena for community and industry/military to relate on these hot
issues towards workable solutions.

-Cathy Duncan

Also I'd like to say that I applaud what Lenny himself and others involved
with the creation of the 1993 legislation that required RABs at military
bases for their truly insightful hard work towards the resolution of a most
serious cleanup issue.

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