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Sample Cases in Archive
Overview: In this 1979 case, Mohonk Trust (hereafter "Mohonk") commenced proceedings against the Town of Gardiner (hereafter "Gardiner"), New York to seek tax-exempt status pursuant to N.Y. Real Prop. Tax Law art. 7 for land owned and operated by the trust located in Gardiner. The court denied tax-exempt status for the land held by Mohonk and Mohonk appealed. On appeal, Mohonk challenged the assessment of real property taxes by Gardiner on Mohonk's land operated as part of a wilderness area open to the public. Mohonk contended that the land was exempt from real property tax, pursuant to N.Y. Real Prop. Tax Law § 421(1)(a).
Outcome: In an opinion by Judge Gabrielli, the Court of Appeals found that real property owned by a trust can be exempt from real property taxes, pursuant to N.Y. Real Prop. Tax Law § 421(1)(a) and that use of real property for environmental and conservation purposes as a wilderness area open to the public constituted a charitable use under the statute.
Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference v. Federal Power Commission (Storm King Mountain Case), 354 F.2d 608 (2d Cir. 1965).
Overview: In this 1965 case, often referred to as the "Storm King Mountain Case", the Federal Power Commission (hereafter FPC) granted an order licensing Consolidated Edison Company of New York (hereafter Con Edison) to build, operate, and maintain a pumped storage project along the western bank of the Hudson River. The Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference, Town of Cortlandt, and Town of Yorktown (hereafter Scenic Hudson) sought judicial review of the order and of other orders that denied the rehearing and motions to consider the practicality of underground transmission lines, and the possibility of fish protection devices. The court set FPC's orders aside and recognized that Scenic Hudson had standing as "aggrieved" parties. According to 16 U.S.C.S. § 803(a), in order for a project to be licensed, it had to be best adapted to a comprehensive plan for improving or developing a waterway, including weighing factors such as alternative plans and the achievement of recreational purposes pursuant to 16 U.S.C.S. § 893(a).
Outcome: The court set aside FPC's orders, Con Edison's proposed hydroelectric project, and denial of Scenic Hudson's ability for a rehearing and consideration for alternatives. The court felt that FPC failed to study alternatives, and did not compile a record sufficient to support its decision, as mandated by statute. The case was remanded for further proceedings, and in 1971 the court held that FPC had subsequently reevaluated the environmental and recreational aspects of the project to the court's satisfaction. The court also held that the scenic impact of the project would be minimal, that no historic site would be adversely affected, that the fish would be adequately protected, and that a proposed park and scenic overlook would enhance recreational facilities.
The Marist College James A. Cannavino Library's Archives & Special Collections department also has an impressive archive collection dedicated to the Storm King Mountain case and documentation regarding the contributions of various individuals to the case. Online overviews and finding aids for the following documents can be accessed for Marist Library's: Scenic Hudson Collection, Hudson River Valley Commission Collection, Saunders Papers and Seymour Papers.
Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, Inc. v. Seaborg, 463 F.2d 796 (D.C. Cir. 1971).
Overview: In this 1971 case, a number of conservation groups, and the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, Inc. (hereafter "Committee") requested a preliminary injunction in an attempt to halt an underground nuclear test explosion by the Atomic Energy Commission and others (hereafter "Seaborg"), on Amchitka Island, Alaska, as being environmentally hazardous. The district court denied the preliminary injunction and ordered only some of the documents requested by the Committee to be produced by Seaborg. The Committee appealed.
Outcome: On appeal, the court denied the Committee's motion for summary reversal and stay, finding that the case presented a substantial question as to the legality of the proposed nuclear test on which the Committee could prevail. However, in light of national security risks that prohibited the further delay of the nuclear test, the court denied the Committee's request to halt the nuclear testing and their request for preventive relief.
Although the United States Court of Appeals denied the Committee's motion for summary reversal and stay for national security reasons, the media attention sparked by the case led to an increase of environmental awareness and was a harbinger of future environmental successes.