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What: The U.S. Supreme Court denies the petition for a writ of certi…

What:
The U.S. Supreme Court denies the petition for a writ of certiorari for Safe Air For Everyone (“SAFE”) in SAFE v. Meyer, et al thus bringing the matter to a close. This is a case with the potential for widespread economic impact on the nation’s farmers and agricultural industry.

When:
Writ of certiorari denied on May 2

Who:
This case was brought by SAFE in federal district court for the District of Idaho, against approximately 70 farmers who grow Kentucky bluegrass seed for commercial distribution throughout the United States. SAFE claimed that the farmers’ practice of burning their fields after the seed is harvested was a violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Kilpatrick Stockton represented the approximately 70 farmers. Arnold & Porter were counsel for SAFE. Alex Bullock, Gary Baise, Stewart Fried and Anson Keller led the Washington-based Kilpatrick Stockton Environmental Team. Mark Levy from the firm’s Appellate Team also provided counsel.

Why Important:
This case is significant, not only in northwest Idaho but also throughout the United States because agricultural burning is practiced in all 50 states. Had SAFE prevailed, it would have, for the first time, resulted in RCRA applying to a broad range of agricultural practices that heretofore were thought to be outside of the statute. Rice growers in California, the sugar producers in Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Texas, and the wheat farmers throughout the mid-west and west could all have been impacted. As far as we are able to determine, the Kilpatrick Stockton environmental practice, is one of the first to handle a number of cases on these issues.

How did the Case get to This Point:
In response to the complaint that was filed in the spring of 2002, Kilpatrick Stockton filed a Rule 12(b) motion. The District Court held a two-day evidentiary hearing and dismissed SAFE’s complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In response to SAFE’s appeal, Kilpatrick Stockton drafted a brief and argued the case in the Ninth Circuit. While affirming the result of the District Court’s decision, the Ninth Circuit converted the matter to a Summary Judgment motion and upheld the dismissal by a 2-1 vote. After SAFE’s petition for a rehearing/en banc hearing was denied, it petitioned the Supreme Court.

For more, contact John Page, 404.815.5903

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