State Citizen Suits, Standing, and the Underutilization of State Environmental Law

June 2022
ELR 10473
Palden Flynn and Michael Barsa

This Article explores the relationship between state environmental citizen suit provisions and judicial standing requirements, and analyzes whether the introduction of citizen suits into state statutory law inspired increasingly strict state standing requirements, as occurred at the federal level. Specifically, it identifies how state judiciaries have interpreted standing and aggrievement in response to general, non-media-specific citizen suit provisions, both in the common law and in administrative law. It aims to determine whether judicial tightening of standing rules has made it harder for plaintiffs to gain access to state courts, and whether standing requirements are the reason state citizen suits have been underutilized and alternative legal channels have proven more useful. It concludes that state legislatures and administrative agencies actually are the source of many of the barriers to citizen suits.

Palden Flynn is an attorney with Edelson PC. Michael Barsa is Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Professor of Practice and co-director of the environmental law concentration.

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