In her final semester at VLS, Lizzie Tisher JD’14 was seeking some hands-on experience to demystify the litigation process.
The case she was assigned in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic was to help a group of neighbors fight the environmental and health impacts of an asphalt plant that had set up near their homes. Through the process, they discovered a company was crushing rock to feed to the asphalt. That crusher did not have an Act 250 land-use permit and the company argued that its longstanding operation was grandfathered under the Vermont’s landmark land-use law.
As the case went from Vermont Environmental Court, to the Vermont Supreme Court, back to Environmental Court, back to Supreme Court for a second and then a third time, Tisher found herself in a “never-ending story.” In August 2018, she filed a brief with the Supreme Court over the crusher, and even if the court decides in her favor, the fight is far from over. The company could move the crusher’s location and continue to fight to operate.
The fight has been hard on the neighbors.
“When you’re sitting at somebody’s kitchen table with them, talking about their lives, it takes on new meaning,” Tisher says. “We want to win because we want them to get the relief they deserve.”
“They’ve been going through this for six years and they might feel like there’s no end in sight,” Tisher says. “They’re not the ones who decided to put the rock crusher there, but they’ve had the burden all along. They spend their time and money, and there’s a lot of stress involved. I’ve seen the physical and psychological toll it’s taken on them.”