Hot Sheet

Lorax lawsuit on behalf of Colorado River said to have dim prospects

Author: Dan Njegomir - November 22, 2017 - Updated: November 22, 2017

Late afternoon long exposure view of a colorful bend in the Colorado River outside Moab, Utah. (istockphoto, david_fikar)

Maybe you knew that all along. The novel litigation some (mockingly?) have referred to as a bid for “personhood’ for Colorado’s signature waterway — and that, just to freshen things up, we’d suggest calling the Lorax lawsuit because its plaintiffs purport to speak for the river — may indeed have been a long shot the day it was filed.

Still, it could be worth getting on the record that there’s recent evidence even the environmental groups that filed the suit don’t seem to hold out much hope for their unconventional legal premise. That’s the upshot of a blog post this week by energy industry-backed news service Western Wire:

A lawyer closely associated with the suit, Jason Flores-Williams, a lawyer representing Deep Green Resistance, told the Post Independent, “The court isn’t going to just give us anything. How we won’t lose is not based on whatever will happen inside the courtroom, but what happens outside of it.”

Another activist with Deep Green Resistance told the Independent in an interview, “Our case by itself is not going to transform the American legal system. People who care about the environment need to realize that one court case is not going to be a quick fix for a system that has a tradition of exploiting the natural world.”

For those unfamiliar with the affair, here’s some background from the Western Wire account:

The lawsuit, which was launched in September and covered by Western Wire, seeks to retain personhood rights for the Colorado River including “rights, including the right to exist, flourish, evolve, regenerate, and restoration.” The suit itself is being brought by members of the environmental group, Deep Green Resistance, which is also affiliated with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s non-profit, Waterkeeper Alliance. Legal advisors for the case also the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).

What’s in it for them, then, if they think the courts won’t buy into their legal premise? Maybe it’s the broader battle — the war for the public’s hearts and minds — that makes the fight worth it?

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.