In Landmark Environmental Law Decision, Minnesota Supreme Court Addresses Environmental Rights and the Public Trust – Update from Jeremy Greenhouse, Esq. of the Environmental Law Group

By: Jeremy Greenhouse

The Minnesota Supreme Court, on July 15, 2020, issued an opinion affirming in part and reversing in part, and remanding additional issues to, the Minnesota Court of Appeals. White Bear Lake Restoration Association v. Minnesota Dept. Nat. Res. et al., 946 N.W.2d 373 (Minn. 2020). In sum, the court held that appellant homeowner associations stated a claim under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA), Minn. Stat. § 116B.03, subd. 1, by alleging the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) impaired White Bear Lake by mismanaging the groundwater-appropriations permitting process. The court also held that the homeowners did not state a claim under the public trust doctrine by alleging DNR violated the trust by authorizing pumping groundwater for use as a public water supply.

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