To view information about a particular victory click that victory on the timeline below
This case brought together the spotted owl of the Northwest United States and the sooty owl of Australia. Logging in Chaelundi State Forest in New South Wales was threatening the survival of the sooty owl and other species protected under Australia's Endangered Species Act. An Australian public interest environmental lawyer, seeking to halt the logging, realized that he needed an expert witness to establish the link between habitat destruction and species decline.
ELAW Australia directed him to ELAW U.S., which connected him with an American expert who had testified in the U.S. spotted owl cases. That expert recently had done habitat research on Australia's sooty owl and was able to offer crucial testimony in the case.
The court accepted his testimony and ruled for the first time in Australia that habitat destruction constitutes a "taking" of a species under the Endangered Species Act. The court ordered logging to stop. An appeals court upheld this ruling and legislative efforts to override it failed, so the Australian Endangered Species Act worked and destruction of this endangered species' habitat was prevented.
On July 11, Meenakshi Raman, one of ELAW's cofounders and an attorney with the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP), won a decision in favor of hundreds of villagers whose health was imperiled by radioactive waste. The Asian Rare Earth company (ARE), a subsidiary of the Japanese multinational Mitsubishi, was producing rare earth chlorides near the water supply for the Malaysian village of Bukit Merah. The chlorides were sent to Japan for industrial use, but the radioactive by-products, some with a half-life of 14 billion years, stayed in Malaysia. Residents of Bukit Merah suffered high rates of childhood leukemia, toxic levels of lead, depressed immune systems and miscarriages.
Plans to mine the Kalu Ganga River for blue sapphire, quartz, topaz and other gems recently threatened to destroy a 20-kilometer section of the river. The process proposed for extracting the gems is called "suction dredge mining," which involves vacuuming up large amounts of river sediment and returning unwanted material to the water. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the proposal claimed that no environmental harm would come of the activity because no pollutants would be added to the river. Ananda Nanayakkara and others at the Environmental Foundation Ltd. were skeptical; they asked the ELAW network for scientific information on the environmental impacts of suction dredging.
ELAW U.S. drew upon local U.S. Forest Service experts on suction dredge mining. These experts explained that suction dredge mining is, in fact, enormously destructive to the environment. ELAW U.S. forwarded this information to their Sri Lankan colleagues. Hemantha Withanage, staff scientist for EFL, incorporated the information into formal comments in response to the EIA. ELAW Sri Lanka informed the network recently that the President subsequently declined the project, and that the ecologically significant Kalu Ganga was preserved.
In the Summer 1993 ELAW Update we reported a case involving a proposal to reopen the Lake Katwe salt plant in Uganda. The plant would dispose of salt waste by-products to the nearby Lake Munya Qyange, home to many exotic birds and endangered plants. ELAW U.S. analyzed the reported chemical composition of salt waste by-products from Lake Katwe, and the potential environmental impacts of disposing of these wastes in a fragile lake ecosystem. Livingstone Sewanyana, Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, wrote with good news about the case. He reported: "The information you provided on disposal of wastes from Lake Katwe Salt Plant was very useful. With such data I was able, to make a strong case. I am pleased to inform you that plans to continue waste disposal into the lake have been abandoned: Thanks. to ELAW."
To challenge environmental abuses and advance sustainable solutions, environmental advocates need scientific resources:
Lawyers with FUNDE-PUBLICO in Colombia represented a community challenging a rice processing plant's practice of dumping rice hulls into the La Carpeta River. Seeking a solution to the plant's disposal problem, FUNDE-PUBLICO contacted a scientist participating in the scientific support network. He suggested, the plant burn the hulls to produce steam energy. FUNDE-PUBLICO and the plant have reached a settlement and the plant is burning the hulls to create energy.
Haifa Chemicals, one of the main polluters of the Kishon River, this week promised an environmental organization that it would significantly curb its flow of poisonous and carcinogenic waste, an unprecedented pledge from an Israeli industrial concern. Two days ago, Haifa Chemicals told the Man, Nature, and Law group (Adam Tevah V`Din hosts ELAW Israel) that over the next 18 months it would cut the amounts of cadmium, mercury, lead, and chromium it has long pumped into the river.
Environmentalists have pointed to exposure to Kishon River water as the likely source of the high prevalence of cancer in veterans of an elite navy commando unit that trained there. A recent government study found that Haifa Chemicals pumped 5,000-7,000 cubic meters of waste into the river daily. Six years ago, Man, Nature and Law joined a group of fishermen in lodging a complaint against the waste disposal practices of Haifa Chemicals and its executives. Following a court hearing, the firm promised to lower its level of pollutant waste within several years, and to allocate about $750,000 to finance a fund to foster environmental concerns in the Haifa area.
Attorneys for the environmental group recently threatened to take Haifa Chemicals to court for failing to hold to the timetable for waste reduction, whereupon the firm agreed to the new undertakings, as well as payment of a $342,000 fine for violating the original accord. Haifa Chemicals told the group in a Sunday letter that it would keep its levels of pollutants as low as promised even if that meant closing production lines or other plant facilities. The firm said it had already lowered poisonous metal effluents by 40 percent over past levels. It will also allow a Man, Nature, and Law representative to perform on-site monitoring of plant practices, and take samples at all times of the waste flowing into the river. The environmental group has attacked the Environment Ministry for displaying what it termed a lenient attitude toward the industrial concerns that pollute the Kishon. It cited Haifa Chemicals as proof that industrial firms can be made to adhere to stringent waste treatment standards.
Dams often wreak havoc on both ecosystems and communities. In a recent case in Slovakia, ELAW U.S. helped local advocate's challenge a government tactic that would have destroyed a community to pave the way for the construction of a new dam:
Lawyers with the Center for Public Advocacy (CEPA) in Slovakia brought a lawsuit to overturn a government order that prohibited new construction in the town of Dubakovo. The order, issued 15 years ago, prevented villagers from building anything in Dubakovo. Villagers believed that this order was designed to eliminate local opposition to the dam, which would have inundated the village. No longer able to build, citizens would eventually move away from Dubakovo. CEPA represented citizens defending their community. Over several months, ELAW provided CEPA with information about the "legality" of such restrictions, which would violate the basic constitutional guarantees of many countries and the environmental record of the U.S. company investing in the project.
In Tanzania, the Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT) alerted the Tanzanian government that LEAT was preparing to file a lawsuit against the government if the government did not take action on Smoking. After LEAT sent notice of intent to sue to the Ministry of Health, the Ministry issued a directive requiring warning labels on all cigarette packages sold after January 1, 1998 in English and Swahili. We will continue to work with lawyers in Tanzania to ensure that those warnings are at least as strong as the warnings required in the U.S. LEAT also intends to work to restrict tobacco advertising in Tanzania.
Located in the shadow of the Himalayas, Kathmandu is a 2,500 year-old city with a rich history. Unfortunately, breathing the air in Kathmandu can be hazardous to your health. The Kathmandu valley traps air pollutants from motor vehicles and factories. The city's population has tripled in the past 20 years and air quality has deteriorated. The World Bank estimates that air pollution causes people in Kathmandu more than $4 million worth of health problems every year.
Lawyers with Pro Public, a Kathmandu-based public interest law firm, are working to clear the air. Drawing on lessons from the ELAW network, Pro Public filed suit calling on the Ministry of Transportation and the Nepal Oil Corporation to protect Kathmandu's air. Nepal's 1996 Environmental Protection Act requires the government to set air, water and noise pollution standards. So far, the government has failed to act. Pro Public has taken the case to the Supreme Court.
Through the ELAW network, Pro Public received scientific reports chronicling the benefits of eliminating lead from gasoline; motor vehicle and industrial emission standards from the U.S., Europe, India and the Philippines; successful strategies for improving air quality applied in other Asian cities; and clean air decisions from the Supreme Court of India.
Pro Public is making good progress. Nepal Oil is now selling unleaded gasoline throughout the country and has cut the sulfur content of its diesel fuel in half. In December of 1999, Nepal's government took a major, positive step: It banned the import of motor vehicles that do not comply with European Union emission standards. These steps will help Kathmandu's residents breathe again. With the ELAW network's help, Pro Public is working for a comprehensive solution that will include the complete elimination of leaded gasoline and emission standards for Kathmandu's major polluting industries.
Every Fall, gray whales travel 5,000 miles from the frigid waters of the Chukchi and Bering Seas to shelter and breed in the warmth of Baja's San Ignacio Lagoon in Mexico. The United Nations designated this whale sanctuary a World Heritage Site in 1993. In 1994, the Mitsubishi Corporation submitted plans for a joint venture with the Government of Mexico to build the world's largest salt plant on the shores of San Ignacio Lagoon. Plans included destroying 116 square miles of tidal flats, constructing a 2 km pier for deep water access to offshore tankers, installing 17 loud diesel engines to pump 6,000 gallons of water per second out of the lagoon, and removing mangrove forests.
The legal team at Mexico's Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) called on ELAW to help challenge the ill-advised project. CEMDA was representing local fishing communities that feared the new salt plant would endanger their livelihood. Discharge of toxic brine at a salt plant in neighboring Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, owned by the same parent company, had killed sea turtles and fish.
Carlos Baumgarten, head of CEMDA's litigation team, traveled to Eugene to work with ELAW U.S. and get the legal and scientific resources he needed to protect San Ignacio Lagoon. Carlos met with ELAW U.S. Staff Scientists and Attorneys and learned about the dangerous effects of increased salinity on marine animals and U.S. standards for salt production plants. Carlos connected with other scientists and reviewed reports documenting the negative impacts of solar salt facilities around the world. Carlos used this information to support CEMDA's challenge to the saltworks.
On March 2, 2000, Mexico's President Ernesto Zedillo announced plans to cancel the saltworks project. This decision was celebrated by CEMDA, ELAW U.S. and many other Mexican and international environmental organizations that fought to save San Ignacio Lagoon.
A Nicaraguan lawyer and Miskito Indian, Lottie Cunningham Wren, brings the story of an unusual international court case to the Eugene community at a public lecture on October 3 at the University of Oregon School of Law. The Mayagna Indians of the Awas Tingni community sued the government of Nicaragua in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to block the government from giving their forest away to a foreign logging company. In September, 2001, the community won - the first such legal victory at the international level by an indigenous people anywhere in the world. The ramifications of the case are now echoing as governments scramble to assess the implications of the precedent.
Dr. Cunningham will present the full story and film, "Children of the Sun," on October 3 at 7:00 pm, Knight Law Center, Room 175, 1515 Agate Street. Dr. Cunningham collaborates with grassroots advocates around the world through the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW). ELAW's U.S. office is in Eugene. Dr. Cunningham will be the first in a series of human rights scholars to visit the University through "Human Rights for ALL," a program designed to expose the University community and Eugene to a broad range of human rights issues. The program was designed by Professor Svitlana Kravchenko of Ukraine, the 2002-2004 Carlton & Wilberta Savage Visiting Professor in International Relations and Peace. "Human rights is a term often used to mean only political freedoms," said Dr. Kravchenko, who for 25 years has taught environmental law, first in the Soviet Union and then in an independent Ukraine. "But social, economic, and environmental rights are equally important. Men and women do not live by free speech alone."
Alfred Brownell, founder of Liberia's first public interest environmental law organization, recently visited ELAW U.S. Alfred contacted ELAW U.S. last year for advice on forming an organization to provide free legal services to Liberian communities harmed by excessive timber cutting. ELAW U.S. connected Alfred to like-minded attorneys in Africa and around the world who have formed strong organizations to help local communities protect the environment and public health. Fifteen attorneys now volunteer their time at Alfred's organization, Green Advocates, based in Monrovia.
Rachel Biderman Furriela is an attorney at Instituto Pro-Sustentabilidade in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has collaborated with ELAW since 1995. In April 2003, Rachel sent thrilling news. She wrote: "I am getting in touch because I have exciting news from Brazil. The Brazilian Congress has just approved and the Brazilian President has sanctioned its Access to Environmental Information Law, a bill presented to Congress by deputy Fabio Feldmann back in 1998.
This is significant progress, not only for Brazil, but for the whole world since it represents incorporation of principles of international law into local legal systems. It was based on Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration Principles, as well as the Aarhus Convention.
This was only possible thanks to the help of ELAW." Rachel was working for Fabio in 1998 and helped his team draft Brazil’s first Access to Environmental Information Law. ELAW U.S. provided Rachel with critical legal tools, including information about access to information laws from the U.S. and other countries, and shortcomings in these laws. Now, communities in Brazil are empowered to get the information they need to chart a sustainable future.
Chile awards compensation to community contaminated by toxic waste In Chile, the Supreme Court ordered financial compensation for 356 residents of Cerro Chuno, a low-income neighborhood contaminated by toxic heavy metals. Residents were unaware of the dangers posed by abandoned mining wastes, left in piles where children played. ELAW partners at Fiscalia del Medio Ambiente (FIMA) worked for 10 years to win justice for the community of Cerro Chuno. Fernando Dougnac, President of FIMA sent thanks to ELAW scientist Meche Lu: “Your testimony was mentioned in the court decision and was one of the key pieces of this decision . . . it is so great to win, particularly when the court decision brings justice to the dispossessed.” More than 20 years ago, a Chilean company imported 21,000 tons of toxic mining wastes to the city of Arica. Arica is one of the driest inhabited places on earth. Wind spread toxic dusts from the waste piles, which were later abandoned. In a classic example of environmental injustice, a low-income housing project was built next to the piles of waste! In 1998 the waste was removed and dumped in a nearby ravine, with no further clean up. At FIMA’s request, ELAW scientist Meche Lu traveled to Arica and collected soil samples from the affected neighborhood for analysis at a laboratory in Oregon. The samples were found to contain lead, arsenic, and cadmium far above those considered safe for urban areas. Meche returned to Arica with FIMA attorney Francisco Ferrada to testify in court about the results of the soil analysis. She informed the court about the continuing health risks of contamination in the affected neighborhoods. For more than a decade, children in Cerro Chuno have suffered from learning disabilities and neurological disorders caused by lead poisoning. In a historic ruling, each of the affected residents will receive $16,000 from the municipal health service. This is the first time a Chilean court has required the government to pay for failing to protect citizens from injuries caused by environmental contamination.
ELAW U.S. helped win a unanimous landmark ruling this year from the European Court of Human Rights that could improve the lives of thousands in Russia who suffer from pollution-related illnesses. Lawyers with the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre called on ELAW U.S. for the science they needed to protect a Russian woman who is suffering serious health problems caused by toxic emissions from Russia’s largest steel manufacturing plant. Nadezhda Fadeyeva is a 56-year old mother of three. She lives in a government-owned apartment near the Severstal steel plant in Cherepovets, an industrial center 300 km northeast of Moscow.
In 1965, the Soviet Government established a "sanitary security zone" around the steel plant. The government said it planned to relocate everyone inside this zone, but it never did. Mrs. Fadeyeva filed a case against the Russian government in 1995 seeking relocation, but authorities only put her on a waiting list. Lawyers at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre in London took up Mrs. Fadeyeva's case. They called on ELAW U.S. to assess the risk of exposure to pollutants near Mrs. Fadeyeva's home. In June, the European Court of Human Rights relied on ELAW U.S.'s health risk assessment to issue a unanimous landmark ruling that the toxic pollution from the factory violated Mrs. Fadeyeva's human rights. It ordered the Russian government to pay the costs of relocating Mrs. Fadeyeva. This case establishes that people have a human right to live free from toxic pollution and makes it easier for pollution victims to pursue justice. Kirill Koroteyev of the Russian human rights group, Memorial, said: "Lots of people live in a comparable situation to Mrs. Fadeyeva. Now they have a tool to fight against the companies that are polluting the air, water or soil around them." ELAW partner Phil Michaels said: "This case has the potential to fundamentally shift thinking in Europe on the connection between human rights and the environment." Phil is a lawyer with Friends of the Earth U.K. and has collaborated with ELAW U.S. for many years.
ELAW partners at the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association won a high court victory protecting a critical flood zone in the capital city of Dhaka. ELAW U.S. Staff Scientist, Mark Chernaik, provided an expert witness affidavit explaining the risk of filling the city's flood zone. A developer had proposed filling the flood zone for a housing project.
Developers of the Junin project, a potentially devastating mining project in the Intag region of Ecuador, have been sent back to the drawing board. Canada's Ascendant Copper Corporation proposes to mine copper near Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, a protected area in northern Ecuador that includes a cloud forest and one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems.
Isabela Figueroa, an attorney with Defensa y Conservacion Ecologica de Intag (DECOIN), called on ELAW to review the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the exploration phase of the project. ELAW found major flaws in the EIA and helped DECOIN convince authorities that the community should be consulted early in the project planning process and that the mining proposal should be considered as a whole, without segmenting out the exploration phase. Ecuador's Ministry of Energy and Mines rejected the EIA due to insufficient consultation with affected communities and a lack of information on the project's impact on local forests and the threatened Brown-headed Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps). The company must now consult with the local people and address the flaws in the EIA.
ELAW partners in Argentina have won clean water for Chacras de la Merced, a low-income community of 5,000 along the Suquia River on the eastern end of Cordoba. Residents of Chacras de la Merced have been complaining since 1992 about a sewage treatment plant that was built in the middle of their community. The plant needs maintenance, lacks capacity, and frequently discharges effluent into the river. Wells along the river are the community's only source of water and many children and family members are suffering from gastrointestinal illnesses. Grassroots attorneys at Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente (CEDHA) are working with the local community and called on ELAW U.S. for help. ELAW U.S. dispatched its environmental research scientist, Meche Lu, to Chacras de la Merced in July 2003, to work with CEDHA and a local laboratory to test the water. This was Meche’s first trip to Cordoba. She said the conditions in Chacras de la Merced were unbearable. "The smell of raw sewage hung in the air." Community members were eager to meet with Meche and learn, for the first time, about the science behind water pollution. Meche identified sampling points and worked with the local lab and a microbiologist to sample water in local homes and the Suquia River. A notary accompanied the team, samples were delivered to the lab, and the results were ready in 10 days. Family wells were found to be contaminated with dangerously high levels of fecal coliform bacteria -- 2,000 bacteria per 100 milliliters of water! The World Health Organization recommends that no fecal coliform bacteria be present in drinking water. Following Meche’s visit, CEDHA and community representatives presented the test results to the court and requested an injunction. In November, 2003, the court approved the petition and ordered authorities to provide, within 24 hours, 200 liters of clean water per person per day to the affected families. CEDHA and the community are continuing negotiations with local authorities to provide safe drinking water to the entire community and clean up the river.
Residents of Hnizdychiv, a small village in western Ukraine, are celebrating victory after taking on environmental hazards that threatened their community: Seventy tons of pesticides were being stored in faulty containers; a distillery was emitting foul odors and polluting a nearby river; excessive amounts of gravel were being removed from the river bed; and residents were worried about government plans to supplement local water with water from an area where cattle carcasses, distillery waste, and poultry plant waste had been dumped.
Last summer, community members asked ELAW partners at Environment People Law (EPL) for help challenging the environmental abuse. EPL’s help was instrumental: the government has promised to remove the pesticides by 2010, the removal of excess gravel has stopped, and plans to tap water from a potentially contaminated source were shelved. EPL also helped the community launch their own environmental organization, to continue advocating on behalf of the community.
What a great way to end the week! Diana McCaulay from Jamaica wrote this morning to say that Pellew Island will be protected! She posted this exciting news to the worldwide ELAW network:
"I'm happy to let you all know that the villa development on the small inshore island in Portland has been turned down. The Jamaica Environment Trust has been working to preserve Pellew Island in its natural state since 2005. ELAW U.S. helped review the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the ELAW network helped with a legal opinion about the right of public access to beaches when the beach has eroded and the foreshore has changed. This is personally very important to me, as the island is a place I spent many happy hours as a child. Thanks very much to everyone who helped with this. I hope some of you will one day get to visit what I believe is one of the most beautiful places in Jamaica." Congratulations to Diana and everyone at the Jamaica Environment Trust who worked for years to protect one of Jamaica's greatest natural wonders!
Years of hard work have paid off! Residents of Murcia, in southeast Spain, have suffered for years -- pungent emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from an asphalt roof manufacturing plant were making them sick. Just days ago, Murcia's High Court ruled that the ASSA plant must clean up its act!
ELAW partner Gines Ruiz, wrote: "This is a final ruling, which acknowledges the violation of fundamental rights through air pollution and noise... I'm thrilled!" Gines is an attorney with Aja! (Association for Environmental Justice), based in Murcia, in a fertile agricultural region on the Segura River known for oranges, lemons, and vineyards. ELAW scientists worked with Gines to design air quality tests for benzene and other carcinogenic VOCs in the vicinity of the plant. Meche Lu, ELAW Environmental Research Scientist, prepared reports and an affidavit about the health impacts for local communities.
ELAW partners in India have won a stunning victory protecting communities in Dhinkia, Gadakujanga, and Nuagaon Gram villages from short-sighted plans for an enormous steel manufacturing facility and port. India's newly formed National Green Tribunal has suspended plans for a project that would have cut forests and forced communities to leave lands that they have lived on for generations. ELAW worked closely with Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, who argued the case before the National Green Tribunal. "In suspending the Ministry's clearance for the project the National Green Tribunal is telling the world that in India, no amount of money or political power can shield a project from the necessity of complying with environmental standards and the rights of communities," says Mark Chernaik, ELAW Staff Scientist.
For 15 years, toxic waste from a lead mine contaminated water, soil and aquatic wildlife in Klity Creek, the only water source for more than 300 ethnic Karen villagers in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok. In January, a Thai court ordered the government to clean up the creek and compensate the villagers. The Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide provided Thai partners at EnLaw with information about the dangers of lead exposure and how to clean up lead contamination. In the year ahead, ELAW will help EnLaw develop, implement, and monitor an effective clean up. The lead mine and ore processing facility, owned by Lead Concentrates Co., was established in 1967. In 1998, torrential rain caused the mine’s tailings facility to rupture, releasing more than 800 metric tons of lead into the Klity creek watershed. The mine and processing facility was immediately shut down, and the Public Health Ministry prohibited using water from the creek and banned fishing.
ELAW eBulletin Kuna Communities Celebrate in Panama ELAW partners in Panama have reported a great victory for indigenous Kuna communities and fragile marine ecosystems! In the Spring ELAW Advocate, we reported on our Panamanian partners' efforts to challenge a major port in Colón, Panama. The proposed Puerto Verde (ironically meaning "Green Port") would have devastated indigenous communities, and destroyed mangroves, corals, and seagrasses. It would also have affected the study areas of the oldest tropical biology research institute on the continent -- the coastal laboratory at Punta Galeta-operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
With a price tag exceeding US $7 billion, Puerto Verde would have compromised small aquacultural operations, razed an island covered in mangroves, and disturbed more than 1.6 square miles of the ocean floor. ELAW Staff Scientist Heidi Weiskel collaborated with our partners at the Environmental Advocacy Center (CIAM) in Panama to review the environmental and social impact assessment and provide scientific support for challenging Puerto Verde. Isaias Ramos led CIAM's effort, incorporating ELAW's comments and submitting CIAM's findings to Panama's national environmental agency (ANAM). In October, ANAM issued a report highlighting numerous deficiencies in the Puerto Verde proposal. Problems included the failure to consult with local communities, failure to employ adequate risk management procedures, and the failure to include a plan to restore impacted mangroves and coral reefs. We recently received word that Puerto Verde's developers have withdrawn their proposal.
Two sets of petitioners filed separate cases challenging the legality of Service Contract No. 46 (SC-46) awarded to Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (JAPEX). The service contract allowed JAPEX to conduct oil exploration in the Tañon Strait during which it performed seismic surveys and drilled one exploration well. The first petition was brought on behalf of resident marine mammals in the Tañon Strait by two individuals acting as legal guardians and stewards of the marine mammals. The second petition was filed by a non-governmental organization representing the interests of fisherfolk, along with individual representatives from fishing communities impacted by the oil exploration activities. The petitioners filed their cases in 2007, shortly after JAPEX began drilling in the strait.
In 2008, JAPEX and the government of the Philippines mutually terminated the service contract and oil exploration activities ceased. The Supreme Court consolidated the cases for the purpose of review. In its decision, the Supreme Court first addressed the important procedural point of whether the case was moot because the service contract had been terminated. The Court declared that mootness is “not a magical formula that can automatically dissuade the courts in resolving a case.” Due to the alleged grave constitutional violations and paramount public interest in the case, not to mention the fact that the actions complained of could be repeated, the Court found it necessary to reach the merits of the case even though the particular service contract had been terminated.