The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled in the Anglers of the auSable v. MDEQ and in doing so, has overruled the PTD v. MDEQ and the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v. Nestlé Corp. The opinion can be read online at the courts website.
The court found that the determination of standing used in Nestlé had already been overruled in subsequent cases and that “any person” has standing to file under MEPA, as the law directly states.
In PTD, the majority had reasoned that since issuance of a permit does not directly harm or threaten the natural resources of the state, permitting decisions were not subject to review under MEPA. It further ruled that since the sand mining was being conducted legally under a permit, it was not subject to review under MEPA either.
Thus, the ruling gutted consideration under MEPA of permits and any permitted destruction or harm to the state’s natural resources done under a permit.
The court overruled the “PTD decision to insulate DEQ permit decisions from MEPA [because it] violated the Legislative intent behind MEPA, conflicted with previous case law regarding MEPA, and subverted the will of the people contained in Article 4 of Michigan’s constitution”
We would have won if the 4 justices in the majority in the Anglers opinion had heard our case in 2003-04. However, the court did not vacate its decision to allow the mining to continue.
Positive impacts of the Current Ruling: As long as the ruling in Anglers of the auSable stands, the protection of the natural resources has been significantly improved. Because of this ruling, once again under MEPA, any person can challenge damage or destruction to natural resources in the state, and permitting and administrative actions of the MDEQ that allow damage or destruction can be challenged.
We take pride in the part we have played in this saga and the results that have been achieved. The PTD board is now investigating its options regarding the Nadeau Pit in light of the court’s decision.
The opinion can be read online at the courts website.