Private Environmental Litigation: Some Problems and Pitfalls




Skillern, Frank F.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


St. Mary's Law Journal


This article examines the jurisdictional, procedural, and monetary obstacles faced by environmental litigants. These complications are illustrated through an examination of case law and a discussion of those issues yet to be adjudicated. The article first discusses federal question jurisdiction issues related to pollution and nuisance cases. Next, the article evaluates the diversity jurisdiction requirements related to environmental cases. The article also discusses the jurisdictional questions stemming from the citizen suit provisions found in the Clean Air Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972.
The following section examines the numerous procedural impediments related to environmental litigation efforts. The article studies the Califano v. Sanders Supreme Court finding that the Administrative Procedure Act cannot be used as a basis for jurisdiction. The article next discusses the establishment of jurisdiction for those cases requesting review of agency actions. The article goes on to explain how the principle of standing affects environmental suits. The article then discusses environmental litigants’ preference for filing class action lawsuits and the jurisdictional issues associated with these class actions. This section concludes with a discussion of sovereign immunity and the varied views on preemption. The article then explains the varying judicial views regarding environmental litigants’ push to have attorney fees paid by the opposing side before providing concluding remarks.



Environmental litigation


9 St. Mary's L.J. 675