Courts and Civil Procedure – Procedure in Particular Actions

State Environmental Rights

SECTION 10-20-3

§ 10-20-3. Civil actions – Environmental advocate – Notice – Intervention.

(a) Any city or town may maintain an action in a court of competent jurisdiction against any person to enforce, or to restrain the violation of, any environmental quality standard which is designed to prevent or minimize pollution, impairment, or destruction of the environment.

(b) Except in those instances where the conduct complained of constitutes a violation of an environmental quality standard which establishes a more specific standard for the control of pollution, impairment, or destruction of the environment, any city or town may maintain an action in any court of competent jurisdiction for declaratory and equitable relief against any other person for the protection of the environment, or the interest of the public therein, from pollution, impairment, or destruction.

(c) Within the department of attorney general there shall be an environmental advocate, to be appointed by the attorney general from among the assistant and special assistant attorneys general.

(d) The environmental advocate shall perform the following duties:

(1) Maintain and/or intervene in civil actions authorized by this chapter.

(2) Review periodically the procedures and environmental quality standards established by the state, or any instrumentality, agency, or subdivision thereof to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

(3) Review complaints of persons and investigate those which appear to constitute a violation of environmental quality standards, or any provision of this chapter.

(4) Investigate and report to the director or person in charge of any state agency, instrumentality, or political subdivision any occurrences, conditions, or practices with respect to procedures, personnel, environmental quality standards, or facilities, which reflect inadequacies with reference to the provisions of this chapter.

(5) To take all possible action, including but not limited to programs of public education, legislative advocacy, and formal legal action, to secure and insure compliance with the provisions of this chapter and any promulgated environmental quality standards.

(e) No action may be commenced by a city or town pursuant to this act unless the municipality seeking to commence the suit shall, at least sixty (60) days prior to the commencement thereof, direct a written notice of the intention by certified mail to the environmental advocate, the appropriate environmental control agency or agencies, the governing body of the municipality in which the alleged conduct has or is likely to occur, and to the intended defendant; provided, however, that if the plaintiff can show that immediate and irreparable damage will probably result, the court may waive the foregoing requirement of notice.

(f) In any action maintained under this section, the environmental advocate may intervene as a matter of right and may appoint outside counsel where as a result of the intervention he or she may represent conflicting or adverse interests. Other interested parties may be permitted to intervene on such terms as the court may deem just and equitable in order to effectuate the purposes and policies set forth in § 10-20-1.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1978, ch. 224, § 1.)