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Wayne Law Review

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water conservation, Michigan Environmental Protection Act


Environmental Law | Law


The decisions of the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals during the Survey period, May 23, 2007 to July 30, 2008, did not dramatically change the course of environmental law in Michigan, nor did they contain any major surprises. The state Supreme Court's decision in Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v. Nestl Waters North America, Inc. is the most significant decision in the Survey period because it held that plaintiffs in Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) cases must now satisfy federal standing requirements. Although the Nestl9 decision may make it more difficult for ordinary citizens to use MEPA to protect the environment in Michigan courts, it will have no effect on their ability to participate in the administrative process, which is usually a more productive and less expensive venue for citizen participation in environmental decision making. A recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter v. Department of Environmental Quality, is likely to facilitate citizen participation in the administrative process of issuing wastewater permits to concentrated animal feeding operations. Sierra Club and Nestle illustrate that environmental practitioners can expect to spend more of their time in practice before agencies and less time before courts. Other decisions of Michigan courts in the past year confirm that courts generally have little sympathy for defendants in environmental remediation enforcement cases. The Michigan Court of Appeals held that a criminal provision in Michigan's scrap tire disposal law imposes strict liability in People v. Schumacher. The court of appeals also upheld substantial penalties in a site remediation case in Department of Environmental Quality v. Bulk Petroleum Corp.



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