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Many of the federal environmental laws include provisions that allow members of the public to initiate a lawsuit in federal court against facilities that violate federal environmental laws and regulations. Such lawsuits are referred to as citizen suits. Generally, before such a lawsuit can be initiated, a notice of intent to file the lawsuit must be provided to the facility believed to be violating federal environmental requirements, to the state in which the facility is located, and to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Those wishing to bring a citizen suit must do so on their own or through an attorney that they hire. Anyone desiring to pursue a citizen suit should refer to the specific citizen suit provisions contained in the particular law they believe is being violated, and the regulations issued to implement that law. The statutes authorize 'private attorneys general' (citizens) to protect the environment.

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