News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722
Archive for November, 2011
  • Chemical Manufacturers Beware: EPA Releases Formerly Confidential Chemical Information

    Posted by on November 29, 2011
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making it more difficult for chemical manufacturers to protect chemical names in reports filed under the Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA").  In a recent press release, U.S. EPA announced that it is making available to the public hundreds of studies on chemicals that had been treated as confidential business information ("CBI").  The move is par...
  • Illinois Appellate Court Affirms $1.5 Million Jury Verdict in Asbestos Case

    Posted by on November 25, 2011
    The Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, recently affirmed a $1.5 million jury verdict in favor of plaintiffs in Zickuhr v. Ericsson, Inc., Case No. 1-10-3430.  The Court ruled that the trial court correctly (1) ruled that the plaintiffs did not have to show the exact quantity of asbestos fibers the decedent was exposed to and (2) barred the defendant from introducing evidence that ...
  • U.S. EPA Reaches $39,926 Settlement With Founder of River Forest Dry Cleaners Superfund Site

    Posted by on November 23, 2011
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced in a Federal Register Notice that it reached an administrative settlement for recovery of past response costs with Edward Ditchfield, the founder of the River Forest Dry Cleaners Superfund site in River Forest, Cook County, Illinois.  River Forest is a suburb of Chicago.  The settlement requires Ditchfield to pay $39,926, plus po...
  • Environmental Register for October 2011

    Posted by on November 22, 2011
    The Illinois Pollution Control Board, which has offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, recently issued its Environmental Register for October 2011.  The Environmental Register features a letter from new Board Chairman Thomas Holbrook, which discusses Mr. Holbrook's background, the appointment of Dr. Deanna Glosser to the Board, and the departure of Board Member Andrea Moore. ...
  • Thank You to Illinois Manufacturers’ Association for Article Publication

    Posted by on November 16, 2011
    I am pleased to announce that my article "Electronics Manufacturers: Are You Ready for New Recycling and Reuse Requirements" has been published in the Sustainable Memo newsletter of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association.  The newsletter is designed to keep manufacturers abreast of emerging developments in environmental regulations, green manufacturing and similar subjects.  My article outli...
  • You’re Invited: November 30th CBA YLS Environmental Law Committee Meeting Featuring OSHA Speaker

    Posted by on November 15, 2011
    As Co-Chair of the Environmental Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, I invite attorneys of all ages, law students, and interested members of the public to attend our next meeting.  The meeting will take place on November 30th at 12:15 pm at Jenner & Block LLP, 353 N. Clark Street in Chicago.  Lunch will be generously provided by our host, Jenner & Blo...
  • U.S. EPA Approves Tougher Standards for Portions of Chicago Waterways

    Posted by on November 8, 2011
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved water quality standards set by the Illinois Pollution Control Board for certain portions of Chicago-area waterways.  The new standards establish recreational use designations for the Chicago Area Waterway System ("CAWS") and the Lower Des Plaines River ("LDPR"). EPA approved the Board's adoption of four categories of recreationa...

Connect with the Illinois
Environmental Law Blog

Newsletter

Events

  • No events

Sponsored Links

Helpful Links

    Facebook Feed

    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.
    ... See MoreSee Less

    1 week ago  ·  

    .

Categories