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Karr v. Hefner

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20036
Nos. No. 05-7105, (10th Cir., 02/02/2007)

The court upheld the dismissal of property owners' Clean Water Act (CWA) citizen suit against several companies for pollution allegedly stemming from the wrongful and illegal construction, reconstruction, operation, and maintenance of numerous oil and gas operations in southeastern Oklahoma. Individuals may bring a citizen suit action under the CWA only where they have given proper notice of the alleged violation to the defendants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, and the state in which the alleged CWA violations have occurred; and where EPA is not already "diligently prosecuting" the same violations. Here, EPA entered into a consent decree with one of the companies concerning essentially the same violations alleged in the property owners' complaint, and its prosecution was "diligent" within the meaning of the Act. In addition, the property owners' notice letters to the remaining defendant companies failed to specify the activities that constituted the alleged violations and the laws that they were allegedly violating.