filed a petition last week seeking a rehearing on a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision that limited the rights of citizens to seek legal action against corporations. The July 25 Supreme Court 4-3 ruling, agreed with lower court rulings that Nestle’s groundwater illegally harmed lakes, streams, and wetlands, but limited the citizen groups’ right to bring a lawsuit against polluters. The court determined that citizens have the right to bring the suit but no right to stop a polluter from destroying a lake and/or wetland on their own property.
Terry Sweir, president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, said of the ruling:
“It makes no sense to us. The Court says we have standing to prevent the damage to the stream and one lake within the affected area of Nestle’s pumping, but then says we don’t have the right to protect the lake and wetlands on Nestle’s property, even though these water resources are also harmed and within the same affected area.”
The group argues that the Supreme Court must reconsider their decision as it denies citizens’ their legal right to prevent Nestle from causing “undeniable harm” to Michigan’s water resources. Legal counsel for Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation argue that the Court may be preventing people from exercising their first amendment right to petition the government as well as striking down a “model” environmental law. That law–Michigan’s Environmental Protection Act–was written in 1970 and had for years given citizens the opportunity to pursue legal efforts to challenge polluters.