Analysis

Synopsis:

 House Bill 50 (HB 50) provides for a private right of action to enforce certain statutes by enacting new sections of the Oil and Gas Act, the Air Quality Control Act, the Hazardous Waste Act, the Solid Waste Act and the Water Quality Act.

Analysis:

 House Bill 50 (HB 50) provides for a private right of action to enforce certain statutes by enacting new sections of the Oil and Gas Act, the Air Quality Control Act, the Hazardous Waste Act, the Solid Waste Act and the Water Quality Act.

The proposed section for a private right of action is the same or nearly the same under each act. It provides for a private right of action for a person who is injured in fact, or imminently threatened with injury, economically or otherwise. 

HB 50 requires a sixty-day notification to the responsible agency before a person may institute an action under the relevant act with exceptions for irreparable harm. The person may not institute a lawsuit if the agency has commenced and is diligently prosecuting a civil action; the person may intervene as a matter of right, if the person meets standing and notice requirements prior to the initiation of the lawsuit, with certain notice requirements to the agency. 

Each section in HB 50 directs the plaintiff to serve specific parties, always including the attorney general (AG), and which party may intervene as a matter of right. HB 50 prevents consent decrees or stipulated judgements from being entered without certain conditions concerning parties or notice being met.

HB 50 allows the court to assess civil penalties or order injunctive relief or a combination thereof. It allows a court to award reasonable litigation costs including expert fees and attorney fees.

For each section, the penalties collected go the that act’s respective fund or, in the case of the Air Quality Control Act, depending on the location of the pollution source, to a local governmental entity general fund or to the state’s General Fund. The latter contains definitions for clarity in allocating Air Quality Control penalties.

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