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Sierra Club v. Delaware Dep't of Natural Resources & Envtl. Control

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20063
Nos. No. 379/2006, (Del., 03/09/2007)

The court upheld the dismissal of an environmental group's lawsuit against a state agency and its officials seeking to enjoin the agency from conducting dredging operations in a canal until it complies with an earlier order by the state environmental appeals board remanding a dredging permit for a proper cost-benefit analysis. The group argued that dredging without complying with the order violates its procedural rights under the Delaware Constitution and the U.S. Constitution and also violates Delaware's Subaqueous Lands Act. But the state legislature subsequently approved the dredging project, thereby mooting the lower administrative proceedings. The court can safely assume that the cost-benefit analysis undertaken by the legislature was co-extensive with, if not identical to, that called for by the board in its remand order. In addition, the group's argument that its right to continue prosecuting the administrative proceeding is constitutionally protected is flawed. The only rights implicated here are rights belonging to the public, not rights accruing to any private citizen. The legislature, therefore, is empowered to define what the public right shall be.