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Frivolous Lawsuit Slows Anti-access Groups

Pombo praises passage of bill aimed at 'frivolous' lawsuits

Environment & Energy Daily: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2004

Pombo praises passage of bill aimed at 'frivolous' lawsuits

Ben Geman, Environment & Energy Daily reporter

A House Republican with jurisdiction over a suite of environmental issues says yesterday's House passage of a bill designed to stem "frivolous" lawsuits will help slow environmental litigation by activist groups.

The House, along essentially party lines, passed the "Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act" yesterday. The legislation would create mandatory penalties on attorneys who file suits dismissed as without merit, removing federal judges' existing discretion to apply such sanctions.

House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo's (R-Calif.) office released a statement praising the bill, claiming environmental litigation has depleted U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service critical habitat funds, slowed forest thinning needed to prevent fires, and hindered energy production.

"Frivolous lawsuits filed under the guise of environmentalism actually hurt the environment and hinder economic growth at the same time," Pombo said in a prepared statement.

Environmental groups have countered that the legislation makes it more difficult to uphold anti-pollution and other environmental laws.

The bill, H.R. 4571, also requires suspension of attorneys from practicing in a federal district court for one year if they have brought three or more cases deemed frivolous in that court, among other provisions.

The bill passed 229-174, with 16 Democrats supporting the bill and three Republicans opposing it.

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