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Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement v. Iowa

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20115
Nos. 19-1644, (Iowa, 06/18/2021)

The Iowa Supreme Court reversed, 4-3, a lower court order denying Iowa's motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by nonprofit groups seeking to reduce fertilizer and waste runoff from farms into the Racoon River. The groups sought to force the state, its agencies, and a number of its officials to enact legislation that would compel farmers to take steps to significantly reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the river. Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of standing, nonjusticiability, and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The lower court denied the motion. The high court found the groups' attenuated causation theory was not enough to establish that their members had suffered a concrete injury at the hands of defendants that could likely be redressed by a court, and that the groups' reliance on public trust doctrine to solve a complex environmental problem presented a nonjusticiable political question. It reversed the lower court's order and remanded with instructions to dismiss the suit.