Articles Posted in Environmental Law

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In July 2000, the Illinois Attorney General, on his own motion and at the request of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), filed a complaint against JTE and Tri-State, alleging operation of a solid waste disposal site on 40 acres in Lynwood that had operated as a sand pit, without a permit, in violation of the Environmental Protection Act, 415 ILCS 5/1. The underlying individual owners were later added to the suit. The site was operational from 1995 until 2003. After several years of litigation, the circuit court ruled in the state’s favor, holding that defendants had violated the Act by engaging in open dumping and by permitting the deposit of construction and demolition debris waste above grade without a permit. Monetary penalties were imposed on each defendant. The court also ordered defendants to remove any and all material deposited above grade at the site. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed as to liability, but vacated the injunction, finding that section 42(e) of the Act may not be applied retroactively in this case. At the time the site was operational, the only injunctive relief available was prohibitory, that is, the restraint of future violations. View "Madigan v. J.T. Einoder, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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WRB owns the Wood River Petroleum Refinery in Madison County. Following major renovations, WRB applied to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/11-25) to have 28 of the refinery’s systems, methods, devices, and facilities certified as “pollution control facilities” for preferential tax assessment. IEPA recommended approval of two of the requests by the Pollution Control Board (PCB), which accepted the IEPA’s recommendations. The Board of Education sought to intervene in the proceedings where certification had been granted, arguing that it had a legally cognizable interest because the certifications would ultimately deprive it of tax revenue. PCB denied the petitions as moot. While requests to reconsider were pending, the IEPA recommended that the PCB approve WRB’s applications to certify the remaining 26 systems. Before PCB took action on those cases, the Board of Education sought to intervene. PCB denied the motion and granted certification in each case. The appellate court dismissed the Board of Education’s consolidated appeal for lack of jurisdiction under section 41 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, under which the Board of Education sought review The court noted the specific provision for appeals in proceedings involving PCB’s “issuance, refusal to issue, denial, revocation, modification or restriction of a pollution control certificate,” contained in the Property Tax Code,35 ILCS 200/11-60. That provision requires that proceedings originate in the circuit court, rather than by direct administrative review in the appellate court. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bd of Educ. of Roxana Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist/ No. 1 v. Pollution Control Bd." on Justia Law

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WRB owns the Wood River Petroleum Refinery in Madison County. Following major renovations, WRB applied to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/11-25) to have 28 of the refinery’s systems, methods, devices, and facilities certified as “pollution control facilities” for preferential tax assessment. IEPA recommended approval of two of the requests by the Pollution Control Board (PCB), which accepted the IEPA’s recommendations. The Board of Education sought to intervene in the proceedings where certification had been granted, arguing that it had a legally cognizable interest because the certifications would ultimately deprive it of tax revenue. PCB denied the petitions as moot. While requests to reconsider were pending, the IEPA recommended that the PCB approve WRB’s applications to certify the remaining 26 systems. Before PCB took action on those cases, the Board of Education sought to intervene. PCB denied the motion and granted certification in each case. The appellate court dismissed the Board of Education’s consolidated appeal for lack of jurisdiction under section 41 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, under which the Board of Education sought review The court noted the specific provision for appeals in proceedings involving PCB’s “issuance, refusal to issue, denial, revocation, modification or restriction of a pollution control certificate,” contained in the Property Tax Code,35 ILCS 200/11-60. That provision requires that proceedings originate in the circuit court, rather than by direct administrative review in the appellate court. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bd. of Educ. of Roxana Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. Pollution Control Bd." on Justia Law

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The Rosenwinkels purchased 160 acres in Kendall County in 1991 and began cattle operations in 1992. Across the road was a farm house, at least 100 years old; in 1991, the tenant moved out and the house was vacant. In 1998, the Toftoys demolished the house. They built a new home, completed in 2004. In 2007, they filed a nuisance action complaining about flies. The Rosenwinkels sought protection under the Farm Nuisance Suit Act (740 ILCS 70/1). The circuit court entered judgment in favor of the Toftoys and ordered remedial measures, including removal of moist bedding and manure. The appellate court affirmed, except as to the remedy. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, reasoning that plaintiffs did not acquire property rights until six years after the farm began operating, beyond the Act’s one-year limitation. By “coming to the nuisance,” plaintiffs were barred from suit. The Act is a “right-to-farm” law to limit nuisance actions and preserve use of farmland. It provides that no farm “shall be or become a private or public nuisance because of any changed conditions in the surrounding area” when the farm has been in existence for one year and was not a nuisance when it began operations. View "Toftoy et al., etc., v. Rosenwinkel et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a citizens' organization, filed suit alleging violations of the Surface Coal Mining Land Conservation and Reclamation Act, 225 ILCS 720/8.05(a), and the Water Use Act, 525 ILCS 45/1 resulting from a coal mine reclamation. The circuit court dismissed with prejudice. The appellate court reversed the dismissal as to all five counts directed against the mining company and modified the order dismissing the count against Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to be a dismissal without prejudice. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed in part. The trial court properly dismissed counts I through V because those counts constitute a challenge to the provisions of the revised permits authorized by Illinois Department of Natural Resources and could not be brought under the Mining Act. Similarly, there is no statutory basis to conclude that the Water Use Act allows a private right of action to challenge conduct that is specifically mandated by the terms of a permit authorized by IDNR. View "Citizens Opposing Pollution v. Exxonmobil Coal U.S.A." on Justia Law

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Production of steel in electric arc furnaces generates toxic waste. The company, which has had an EPA permit since 1989 to store and treat hazardous waste at its facility near Peoria, developed a new process to stabilize this hazardous residue, or electric arc furnace dust, by converting it into material that is not hazardous. It filed a "delisting" petition for an adjusted standard with the Pollution Control Board, which was granted in 2009, with conditions. Delisting removes a material from regulation as hazardous.The appellate court found that opposition groups had standing, but affirmed the Board on the merits. The Illinois Supreme Court dismissed without reaching the merits. Opponents did not fall within any other statutory category which would permit them to appeal and, therefore, had to show that they were contesting a "rule or regulation," under section 29(a) of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, to establish standing. The adjusted standard granted in this case is not, in itself, a rule or regulation. It is an individualized exception to a regulation. It is an adjudicatory determination which is quasi-judicial in nature, unlike a rule or regulation, which is legislative in nature. View "Sierra Club v. IL Pollution Control Bd." on Justia Law