News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722
Archive for January, 2012
  • Illinois Super Lawyers Magazine Selects Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young as a “Rising Star” for the Second Year in a Row

    Posted by on January 16, 2012 Chicago, Illinois (PRWEB) January 16, 2012 Dave Scriven-Young, a Chicago environmental attorney at Peckar & Abramson, P.C., was recently selected as a "Rising Star" in environmental law by Illinois Super Lawyers Magazine. "I would like to thank Illinois Super Lawyers for naming me a 'Rising Star' for 2012," said Scriven-Young. "Partic...
  • Illinois EPA Releases Air Quality Report for 2010

    Posted by on January 9, 2012
    The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency recently released its 4th Annual Air Quality Report, which summarizes air quality data collected in calendar year 2010. Data in the Report is presented for the six criteria pollutants (those for which air quality standards have been developed - particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead) alon...
  • Illinois Environmental News Update

    Posted by on
    Here's your Illinois environmental news update for this morning from across the internet: (1) State of Illinois sues the City of Markham for allegedly violating the IL Environmental Protection Act by not having a backflow contamination control in its water supply system for at least six months. (2) Illinois EPA officials h...
  • Illinois Environmental News Update

    Posted by on January 6, 2012
    Here's your Illinois environmental news update for this morning from across the internet: (1) Plaintiffs seek information from Illinois EPA in suit alleging weed killer atrazine contaminates Greenville's drinking water.  They hope that the information will help defeat summary judgment motions filed by defendant Syngenta Crop Protection Services.
  • Illinois Environmental News Update

    Posted by on January 5, 2012
    Here's your Illinois environmental news update for this morning from across the internet: (1) Mayor Emanuel and ComEd predict that the $1.1 billion investment in smart grid infrastructure will create 2,400 jobs. (2) The South...
  • EPA Region 5 Enforcement Results in Over 300 Million Pounds of Pollution Reduced, Treated or Eliminated

    Posted by on January 3, 2012
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reported the annual results of its compliance and enforcement efforts for the 2011 fiscal year.  According to EPA, its "enforcement achieved an estimated: $19 billion invested to improve environmental performance, a record year, $3 billion (included in the $19 billion) to clean up hazardous waste in communities and ensure that the pol...
  • Illinois Environmental News Update

    Posted by on January 2, 2012
    Here's your Illinois environmental news update for this morning from across the internet: (1) Federal Appeals Court delays enforcement of EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule while the court decides the rule's legality. (2) Gov. Quinn signs a bill that makes modestly consume...

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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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    1 week ago  ·