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Driftless Area Land Conservancy v. Huebsch

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20189
Nos. 20-1350, (7th Cir., 08/11/2020)

The Seventh Circuit reversed the denial of transmission companies' motion to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the Wisconsin Public Service Commission's approval of a $500 million electricity transmission line in southwestern Wisconsin. Environmental groups challenged the approval on constitutional grounds, and sought to have the permit for the line invalidated. The companies moved to intervene, but the district court denied their motion, concluding that the companies and the Commission had the same goal—dismissal of the lawsuit—and that the Commission adequately represented that shared objective. On appeal, the court found that a more discriminating comparison of the absentees' interests and the interests of existing parties was required, and that engaging in such a comparison clearly showed that the companies—whose interests were independent of and different from the Commission's in several respects—were entitled to participate as parties to protect their private investment. It therefore reversed the district court's ruling and remanded with instructions to permit the companies to intervene.