News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722

New Law Requires Public Notice of Groundwater and Soil Gas Contamination

New Public Act 096-0603 imposes new requirements for notice to the public of groundwater and soil gas contamination.

First, the owner or operator of a community water system must notify all residents and owners of premises connected to the affected community water system when Illinois EPA either (1) refers a matter for enforcement or (2) issues an order sealing wells.  (New 415 ILCS 5/18.1.)

Second, Illinois EPA must notify residents and owners of premises connected to affected community water systems (or connected to water systems receiving water from the affected community water system) when the agency determines that groundwater contamination poses a threat of exposure to the public above Class I groundwater quality standards.  (New 415 ILCS 5/25d-3(a)(2)(B)(ii).)

Third, Illinois EPA must notify owners of contaminated property that soil gas contamination above Tier 1 remediation objectives extends beyond the boundary of the site where the release occurred.  (New language added to 415 ILCS 5/25d-3(a)(1).)  Previously, Illinois EPA was only required to provide notice only for soil contamation.  Now, soil gas contamination is included in the notice.

So what does this all mean?  The public will have more knowledge than ever about contamination in their water supply and in their soils.  And that is probably a good thing, because citizens will be able to avoid things that can potentially make them sick.  Will we see more litigation based on these notice requirements?  It remains to be seen.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.





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