News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722
Archive for February, 2011
  • Please Join Us For Today’s CBA YLS Environmental Law Meeting

    Posted by on February 24, 2011
    Please join us for today's free meeting hosted by the Environmental Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, which will take place at 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm at the Chicago Bar Association. Our meeting will feature Illinois Pollution Control Board Member Carrie Zalewski, who will be speaking about practicing law before the Illinois Pollution Control Board. Ms. Zalewski...
  • State Appellate Court Allows Construction of “Megadairy”

    Posted by on February 22, 2011
    The Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District, recently issued an opinion in Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards v. Bos, Case Nos. 2-09-1283 & 2-10-0162, which concerned the construction of a livestock management facility in Nora Township, Jo Daviess County, Illinois.  The "Tradition South" dairy would have 6,850 "animal units" in the form of dairy cows and calves and wou...
  • Chicago Area Gets Major Investment In Electric-Vehicle Infrastructure

    Posted by on February 21, 2011
    According to two stories in the Chicago Tribune (click here and here), $8.9 million will be invested in the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project, which promises 280 charging stations in the city and surrounding region by the end of 2011.  Here is how the project was described in the Tribune: "San Diego-based 350Green LLC, the contractor that will install and manage the charging stations,...
  • Illinois Pollution Control Board Dismisses Noise Pollution Case Against ComEd as Frivolous

    Posted by on February 20, 2011
    The Illinois Pollution Control Board recently dismissed Chvalovsky v. Commonwealth Edison, Case No. PCB 10-13, which concerned alleged noise emissions from a transformer behind Plaintiff's house and transmission lines in the vicinity of Church Street and Laramie Avenue in Skokie, Cook County, Illinois. The Board held that Plaintiff's complaint failed to address the issue of when the all...
  • Asian Carp Bill Offered In the U.S. House of Representatives

    Posted by on February 17, 2011
    Today, Representative Dave Camp (R-Michigan) offered an amendment to the House budget bill that would have closed locks to prevent infiltration of the Asian carp into the Great Lakes. Four representatives from Illinois, including Judy Biggert, a Republican, and Danny Davis, a Democrat, all spoke to oppose the amendment.  The basic arguments against the amendment were three-fold: (1)...
  • You’re Invited: 2/24 CBA YLS Environmen​tal Law Committee Meeting with IL Pollution Control Board Member Carrie Zalewski

    Posted by on February 15, 2011
    As Co-Chair of the Environmental Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, I invite you to our next meeting, which will take place on February 24th at 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm at the Chicago Bar Association. Our meeting will feature Illinois Pollution Control Board Member Carrie Zalewski, who will be speaking about practicing law before the Illinois Pollution Control Boar...
  • Environmental Register for January 2011

    Posted by on February 14, 2011
    The Illinois Pollution Control Board has issued its Environmental Register publication for January 2011. The Environmental Register features a letter from Chairman Girard, which discusses progress that the Board made in a number of open rulemaking dockets. The Environmental Register also contains a rulemaking update, a summary of actions of the Board, a summary of new cases, the Board's cal...

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    The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the federal government’s ability to criminally prosecute environmental activists who destroy property under the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (“AETA”).

    In United States v. Johnson, the defendants travelled from Los Angeles, California to a mink farm in Morris, Illinois. The mink farm was in the business of breeding, raising, and selling minks to fur manufacturers. At the mink farm, the defendants released approximately 2000 minks from their cages. They also removed portions of the fence surrounding the mink farm to help the minks escape, and they destroyed the minks’ breeding cards, which were needed to sell the minks to a furrier. In addition, they poured caustic substances on two farm vehicles and spray-painted the words “Liberation is Love” on a barn. The vandalism caused between $120,000 and $200,000 worth of damage. The defendants then began traveling to a fox farm in Roanoke, Illinois, which bred foxes to sell to fur manufacturers. They planned to damage the fox farm as well, but they were arrested by local law enforcement before they arrived at the fox farm. The defendants were charged in state court with possession of burglary tools and were convicted. They were sentenced to 30 months imprisonment.

    Then, the defendants were charged with violating the AETA by the federal government. Count I of the indictment alleged that they conspired to travel in interstate commerce for the purpose of damaging and interfering with the operation of an animal enterprise, and in connection with that purpose, damaged the property of an animal enterprise. Count II alleged that the defendants damaged real and personal property used by an animal enterprise. The defendants moved to dismiss the indictment against them, asserting that the AETA was facially overbroad, was unconstitutionally vague, and violated substantive due process because it labeled persons who committed the act as “terrorists”. The District Court denied the motion to dismiss.

    The Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court’s ruling that rejected all of the defendants’ arguments. In particular, the defendants suggested that the AETA prohibited advocacy that caused damage to only intangible property such as profits or goodwill. The court rejected that argument and held that the AETA prohibited destruction of or damage to tangible items and property owned by the animal enterprise. In fact, the court looked at the legislative history of the AETA, which reinforced the conclusion that it was not intended to criminalize speech or expressive conduct that caused damage only to the animal enterprise’s profits or goodwill. Several legislators made statements indicating that, while the statute was being passed to combat the violence being perpetrated against animal enterprises as well as people and entities connected to animal enterprises, Congress was aware of the importance of protecting the First Amendment right to engage in lawful protest against animal enterprises. In particular, the court looked at a speech by Senator Feinstein stating: “I fully recognize that peaceful picketing and public demonstrations against animal testing should be recognized as part of our valuable and sacred right to free expression. For this reason, all conduct protected by the First Amendment is expressly excluded from the scope of this legislation. This law effectively protects the actions of the law-abiding protester while carefully distinguishing the criminal activity of extremists.” In summary, the court found that the text of the statute as well as the legislative history made clear that the statute does not criminalize speech or expressive conduct that causes damage only to intangible profits or goodwill of an animal enterprise.

    The Seventh Circuit had an easy task in this case, deciding to interpret the statute to criminalize destructive conduct but keeping the door open to reasonable protests that do not harm private property. Environmental activists need to be aware of this line in the sand that has been drawn by Congress and the courts.
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    2 weeks ago  ·