Investigations and cases usually start with a simple phone call or e-mail, or someone hailing our patrol boat out on the river with a tip. On the river, our Boat Captain, John Lipscomb may investigate the issue himself or call into the office for support. Then, one of our investigators will be dispatched to the suspected site or to meet with the citizen “watchdog”.
Once we have sufficient information we can determine if a violation of the Clean Water Act, zoning codes or other issues is occurring. In many cases we will be able to guide the person, or group, that informed us of the violation in what their rights are, and often stop the problem right there and then. When the case is more complicated or grievous, we will decide how we can bring the appropriate legal resources to bear.
In these more complicated cases, we must decide what resources will be needed and how to build the team. Polluters rely on two things: first, that mounting a legal challenge to their activities will cost far more than most individuals can afford; and second, that it often takes a long time to win a case against a polluter. Riverkeeper has shown its ability to overcome both of these obstacles. We have become expert in building strong alliances with key partners and broad-based coalitions that greatly improve our likelihood of success.
Often, the alliance we forge includes the invaluable contributions of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic.