The Supreme Court today will hear arguments in a case that could whittle down the power of citizens to file lawsuits against polluters. In 1992, Friends of the Earth sued a South Carolina hazardous-waste-incineration company, Laidlaw Environmental Services, for dumping excessive amounts of mercury in a nearby river. The company stopped polluting after the suit was filed, but an appellate court ruled that the company did not have to pay FoE’s legal fees, which amounted to more than $2 million. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court. Enviros and state officials fear that the appellate court’s ruling could severely limit other citizens and groups from pursuing suspected polluters. In other dirty water news, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said yesterday that he hopes to propose a bill that would help spur water cleanups near abandoned mine sites.

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