Shepstone Management Company, Inc.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) just lost yet another case. Their contention they deserved to speak for an ecosystem went nowhere.
Back in March, I wrote about the case of PGE against Grant Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania and the detestable CELDF. Now, there’s been yet another Federal court decision dealing this band of Marxists a severe blow. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has said, no, a watershed is not a legal party. Rocks, trees and streams can’t vote and can’t sue.
The CELDF is a frequent subject of these pages. It’s an extremist group using fracking as an excuse to peddle Marxism. They convinced Grant Township to adopt their plainly unconstitutional “community rights” ordinance under this pretense. PGE took them on with the assistance of PIOGA and the CELDF just got whacked. Here is PIOGA’s summary of what happened (emphasis added):
Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association General Counsel Kevin Moody today issued the following statement regarding the July 27th decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denying intervention in PIOGA member Pennsylvania General Energy Company’s federal lawsuit against the “Community Bill of Rights” ordinance adopted by Grant Township, Indiana County:
“The federal appeals court decided that Magistrate Judge Baxter was correct to keep an environmental organization and an “ecosystem” out of PGE’s court proceeding because Grant Township is adequately defending the ordinance. This decision clears the way for Judge Baxter to decide the constitutional issues PIOGA believes are key to stopping these reckless efforts.
“PIOGA’s intervention in support of PGE was approved in October 2015. The appeals court’s decision is unremarkable, except for its treatment of the Little Mahoning Watershed ‘ecosystem’ that sought to intervene based solely on ‘rights’ granted by the ordinance being challenged. Proponents of these ‘superior local government’ ordinances and home rule charters touted the Little Mahoning Watershed’s intervention request as ‘the first motion by an ecosystem to intervene in a lawsuit.’
The federal appeals court did not rule on whether Grant Township’s ordinance could lawfully create rights in an ecosystem, but the court noted that federal rules of civil procedure require litigants to be ‘individuals, corporations and others permitted by state law to sue or be sued,’ and that an ecosystem – ‘a line of hills or mountains from which rivers drain; or a ridge between two rivers’ – does not qualify.
“Hopefully this ruling is another significant nail in the coffin against these misguided and unlawful efforts by local governments to ban lawful business activities that are comprehensively regulated by the state and federal government. These efforts are wasting time, money and judicial resources, and exposing these local governments to significant attorneys’ fees and costs and damages, risking municipal bankruptcy in the process.”
There’s not a lot more to add. Still, Footnote 2 of the opinion lays it out rather neatly (“CBR” refers to the CELDF “Community Bill of Rights”):
…we are not convinced that the Little Mahoning Watershed is a proper party under Fed. R. Civ. P. 17. The CBR endows certain rights upon “natural communities and ecosystems” within the Township, including “rivers, streams and aquifers.” The CBR states that these natural communities and ecosystems “possess the right to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.”
PGE argued to the District Court that a watershed (commonly defined as “a line of hills or mountains from which rivers drain; or a ridge between two rivers…), is not a proper party to this lawsuit according to Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(b).
The District Court did not directly decide this question, concluding instead that the Township adequately represented any interests the watershed may have, and we have no disagreement with that approach….
We do not see, however, how a watershed could be considered a proper party under Rule 17. Under that Rule, in order to be a party to a lawsuit, the purported litigant must have the capacity to sue or be sued. On this point, the rule speaks only in terms of individuals, corporations and others permitted by state law to sue or be sued…
The plain language of Rule 17 does not permit an ecosystem such as the Little Mahoning Watershed to sue anyone or be sued by anyone, and for that reason alone we have misgivings with the Watershed being listed as a party in this litigation.
That’s not too hard to understand, is it? The CELDF, of course, also understands but, as we noted recently, their purpose isn’t to win the legal battle. They want to create chaos with which to help spark a revolution. That’s what they’re all about and no one should be deceived into thinking they give a damn about the environment.