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E-M:/ News Release: Nestle Court Ruling Assailed



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            Contact:  David Holtz
July 25, 2007                                                                                          313.300.4454

 

CORPORATE INTERESTS ERODING PUBLIC’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO PROTECT GREAT LAKES
MI Supreme Court ruling threatens public control over water resources

 The Michigan Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision today in Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation vs. Nestle Waters North America, Inc puts Michigan at grave risk of losing its ability to enforce environmental laws and protect our natural resources.

 “Four justices have cast their vote in favor of big business and against citizens, local governments and communities,” David Holtz, Clean Water Action Michigan Director. “Coming on the day new bills were introduced in the Michigan Legislature to protect Michigan’s waters, the Court’s ruling puts a giant exclamation point and a new urgency on the need for the public to keep control over Michigan’s waters. Michigan’s future is much more at risk today because of the court’s attack on Michigan’s constitutionally protected natural resources.” 

 Justices Taylor, Young, Corrigan and Markman—the Court’s right-wing ideological activists —were in the majority in striking down the Michigan Environmental Protection Act’s (MEPA) provisions allowing citizens to sue to enforce environmental laws, or so-called “standing”.  Three dissenting opinions by Justices Weaver, Kelley and Cavanaugh all concurred that the majority’s decision was at odds with the Michigan Constitution, which places a duty on the Michigan Legislature to protect natural resources. 

 Citizens have used MEPA to produce such public interest victories as halting Shell Oil’s plan to indiscriminately drill for oil and natural gas in the Pigeon River Country State Forest in the late 1970s. Other MEPA-based victories include blocking Mason County from dredging damaging new channels in a river in 1975, and forcing developers to comply with environmental standards in building condominiums along Lake Michigan in Manistee in the late 1990s.   Today’s ruling flowed from a 2001 lawsuit brought by Mecosta County residents who challenged water mining operations by Nestle that were impacting nearby streams, wetlands and a lake. 

 “When the Legislature in 1970 enacted MEPA and authorized citizens to sue to protect Michigan environment under our laws, lawmakers were fulfilling a constitutional duty,” said Holtz.   “The Michigan Supreme Court—in a brazen power grab and feat of judicial activism—today said the interests of companies like Nestle trump the people’s representatives and the state’s Constitution.” 


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