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Construction Equipment Guide

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Court Decision OK's Association Intervention

The following article appeared in the Construction Equipment Guide dated 14 August 2002. This trade paper publishes articles and advertisements of interest to U.S. construction companies.

We asked their permission to publish it on our web-site because the referenced Court decision clearly indicates parallel interests and suggests future opportunities for the International Neuro-Linguistic Programming Association. It is our understanding that, at least where United States’ law applies, INLPA can have an influential voice in proposed legislation or regulations that may impact the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Court Says Associations Have Legal Right to Intervene

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that barred a coalition of national construction associations from intervening in a Sierra Club law suit challenging a major Utah highway project The ruling marked the first time a federal appellate court has said in a written opinion that construction industry associations have a legal right to a seat at the table in environmentally-based litigation seeking to stop regional, state or local transportation plans.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association were seeking to intervene on behalf of their members as the "Advocates for Safe and Efficient Transportation" (ASET) in litigation challenging construction of the Legacy Highway and other projects in Salt Lake City, UT.

The Sierra Club sued federal transportation agencies in February 2001, asserting their final approval of the project after years of study, review and extensive public comment violated provisions of the federal dean Air Act. The Sierra Club fought ASET'S desire to participate in the case. Intervenors can fullly participate in a suit and be involved in the development of any court settlements that may be made.

ASET, oiganized by ARTBA in 1999, sought to intervene in the suit in March 2001. A lower court denied the request in May 2001 and ASET appealed the decision.

In the first-of-its-kind ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit said the district court's denial of ASET'S motion to intervene is "contrary to the teaching of the Supreme Court." Under Supreme Court precedent, the court said, "an association has standing to sue on behalf of its members when those members would have standing to bring the same suit"

"With ASET's interest in the transportation plans... we have no hesitation in concluding that the Sierra Club's action may as a practical matter impair or impede ASET'S ability to protect its members' interests," the court said. The court also found that "ASET can provide expertise the government agencies may be lacking."

"This is a precedent-setting ruling for the transportation planning process," ASET spokesman President Pete Ruane said. "The court has made it clear that the construction industry has an equal seat at the table when government agencies and environmental groups are determining the fate of transportation improvement projects. The decision also proves the industry does not need to stand idly by when transportation projects come under attack by the Sierra Club or other professional environmental groups."

Since 1999, ASET also has been involved in lawsuits challenging transportation plans and projects in Sacramento, Baltimore and Atlanta. None of the challenged projects -- worth more than $40 billion -- have been stopped.