"Environmental Groups Resort to Suing Industries Directly"

"Starting Monday, a federal judge in Waco will hear arguments from the Sierra Club that Luminant Generation Company, the state’s largest electric generator, has been spewing far more pollution into the air from an East Texas coal plant than is allowed by federal and state law."

"The case is one of at least three high-profile lawsuits that are being heard in federal court this year in which environmental groups in Texas have taken matters into their own hands. They are suing industries for excess pollution directly, rather than relying on the government to take action. And although such 'citizen suits' have been permitted since the beginning of environmental regulation in the United States decades ago, they could become more common as agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are increasingly scrutinized by politicians and the industry, and they continue to suffer from budget cuts.

'Historically, there has been an uptick in citizen suit filings when there is something of a slowdown in enforcement,' said Matthew Morrison, an environmental lawyer based in Washington, and a former counsel for the E.P.A. If the agency is not aggressive enough on its own, Mr. Morrison said, 'citizen suits may happen more often.'"

Neena Satija reports for the New York Times February 22, 2014.

Source: NY Times, 02/24/2014