Barnum lawsuit against EPA moves forward
Barnum Timber is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over long-standing listing of Redwood Creek as “impaired” for sediment and temperature due to past timber harvest. The suit claims the listing adversely affects Barnum’s property values.
The trial court tossed the case, ruling that Barnum didn’t have standing to sue. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, so the case will move forward.
UC Berkeley Professor of Law Holly Doremus thinks the case is bogus.
It would be fair to ask, so what? This lawsuit won’t succeed on the merits. What’s the big deal of letting it get past a motion to dismiss? In these days of strained budgets, maybe the problem is that the US shouldn’t have to bear the costs of defending this sort of meritless suit. But it’s not just the money and time. I think the real problem with this particular suit is that it so unfairly paints EPA as the villain, playing in to the Republican theater of the federal government as evil actor. I’ve got no problem with Barnum suing California based on the state’s water quality standards, the state’s designation of this creek as impaired, or any regulations the state imposes on that basis. The state should be prepared to defend those decisions. But EPA shouldn’t be hauled into federal court because it’s not reining in California. That is not, and should not be, it’s job.