Robert Adler, Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, published a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed on March 5, arguing that Utah state government should encourage public participation in issues involving air and water quality, open space and public lands, rather than making it more difficult for citizens to raise questions about environmental issues.
In “Shutting the door on environmental debate,” Adler writes that there have been efforts during this legislative session to “to systematically shut the door to legal opportunities for citizens to voice concerns about a range of environmental issues.”
One bill that Adler cites would require plaintiffs in environmental lawsuits to post large bonds, a requirement that doesn’t apply to others seeking relief in state court. Another example is a bill adding two more industry representatives to the state’s water quality board while eliminating the only seat representing environmental interests and the representative of the public at large.
“If we, as an open society, want to channel legitimate discourse about difficult environmental disputes into lawful . . . means of expression, we should be opening doors to public participation rather than slamming them shut,” Adler writes.