Today, the OELC, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, and SunCoke Watch, filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in Ohio’s Tenth District Court of Appeals. The petition seeks to compel the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) to set a hearing schedule that would give the parties a fair chance to argue their cases.
The action stems from the passage of House Bill 1 earlier this year, which required ERAC to follow a strict timetable and to quickly dispense with pending and future cases. As a result of House Bill 1, ERAC imposed a one-hour time limit for argument in over 300 pending cases, including several brought by the OELC.
“A one-hour time limit for argument, divided between two or more parties, cannot provide the basic due process of law that is guaranteed by our state and federal constitutions,” said Trent Dougherty, Director of the OELC. “Many of the cases scheduled for a one-hour hearing involve complicated legal and factual questions and have huge consequences for the environment,” said Dougherty.
A writ of mandamus, authorized under Revised Code Chapter 2731, is an order from a superior court which mandates that a lower court must comply with a certain law, rule, or judgment. If ordered by the Court of Appeals, the writ would require ERAC to come up with a schedule for hearings that gives the parties a sufficient amount of time to develop argue the cases, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses.
Read more on this issue here.