News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722
Archive for 2014
  • Illinois Pollution Control Board Releases Environmental Register for August 2014

    Posted by on September 15, 2014
    The Illinois Pollution Control Board recently issued its Environmental Register for August 2014.  The Environmental Register features a letter from Board Chairman Deanna Glosser, which summarizes the activity that the Board has conducted in rulemaking dockets, including amendments adopted that make the Board's rules consistent with, and as stringent as, the current federal regulations regardin...
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources Announces Invasive Species Prosecutions

    Posted by on September 9, 2014
    The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently announced prosecutions against three out-of-state businesses for alleged violations of Illinois laws governing the importation of fish species that can become invasive, or can potentially spread Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).  Investigations by the Illinois Conservation Police have resulted in fines of nearly $30,000, with the potential f...
  • U.S. EPA Regulates Cooling Water Intake Structures

    Posted by on August 30, 2014
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently published final regulations to establish requirements for cooling water intake structures at existing facilities.  According to the EPA, "cooling water is withdrawn for the purpose of dissipating waste heat from industrial processes.  Over half of all water withdrawn in the United States each year is for cooling purposes.  By far, the largest ...
  • Please Join Us For Next CBA Environmental Law Committee Meeting on September 2nd

    Posted by on August 27, 2014
    As Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee, I invite you to join us for our next meeting, which will be held on September 2, 2014 from 12:15 pm to 1:30 pm at the Chicago Bar Association.  The speaker will be Kristen Laughridge Gale from Nijman Franzetti, LLP, and the topic will be “Recent Developments in Illinois Environmental Legislation”.  Attorneys of all ages...
  • U.S. EPA Approves Changes to Illinois Vehicle Emission Testing Program

    Posted by on August 19, 2014
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved changes to the vehicle inspection and maintenance program of the State of Illinois.  These changes were proposed by the Illinois EPA as revisions to the State Implementation Plan, which details how Illinois will comply with the Clean Air Act and its implementing regulations. (more…)...
  • Dave Scriven-Young Elected to Chicago Bar Association Board of Managers

    Posted by on August 14, 2014
    My law firm, Peckar & Abramson, P.C., recently issued a press release congratulating me on being elected to the Chicago Bar Association Board of Managers: PECKAR & ABRAMSON, P.C.’S DAVID J. SCRIVEN-YOUNG ELECTED TO CHICAGO BAR ASSOCIATION BOARD OF MANAGERS  NEW YORK—July 17, 2014 – Peckar & Abramson, P.C. (P&A) is pleased to announce that David J. Scriven-Young, Senio...
  • New Illinois Law Provides State Financial Assistance for Stormwater Management and Treatment Projects

    Posted by on August 1, 2014
    On July 23, 2014, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced that he signed legislation designed to help combat flooding across the state and to protect Illinois’ drinking water.  The legislation makes stormwater management and treatment projects available for state financial assistance following last year’s record rainfall and severe flooding that affected communities across Illinois.  A copy of...

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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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