April 2, 2019

In the Matter of Sheive v. Holley Volunteer Fire Co., Inc., 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 01982, the Fourth Department determined that the petitioner did not have standing to seek review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) of a one-day squirrel hunting event put on by a volunteer fire department.

Petitioner lived approximately 50 miles from the area where respondent held hunting contests. She alleged an environmental injury-in-fact based on her fondness for squirrels, the impact that the hunting contests may have on the ‘local ecology,’ and the possibility that the contests may result in the killing of squirrels that she sees near her residence. Petitioner argued that she therefore had standing to bring an action. The Court rejected that contention as follows:

“Standing is ‘a threshold requirement for a [party] seeking to challenge governmental action’ … . The burden of establishing standing to challenge an action pursuant to SEQRA is ‘on the party seeking review’ … . ‘The existence of an injury in fact—an actual legal stake in the matter being adjudicated—ensures that the party seeking review has some concrete interest in prosecuting the action’ … . In addition, to establish standing under SEQRA, a petitioner must establish, inter alia, ‘an environmental injury that is in some way different from that of the public at large’… . Here, we conclude that petitioner has not met her burden of establishing an environmental injury-in-fact. Although petitioner may have alleged some environmental harm, she has alleged, at most, an injury that is ‘no different in either kind or degree from that suffered by the general public.’ Petitioner also has not established that the hunting activities at issue have affected the wildlife where she resides, nor has she established that she has used, or even visited, the area where the hunting contests have been conducted …”.

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