Tonawanda Seneca Nation loses the chance to stop Plug Power after court dismisses civil lawsuit

Hopes of sending developers packaging have been dashed after a Genesee Supreme Court judge recently dismissed an Article 78 lawsuit submitted by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm, on behalf of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation. 

Plug Power, a publicly traded company, is anticipated to construct the single-largest new green hydrogen and electric substation in North America, in the rural town of Alabama, New York. The site location neighbors the bordering Nation’s reservation, posing concerns among those who reside and rely upon natural resources that may be disrupted through the multi-million dollar project.

Tonawanda Seneca Nation’s newly-filed Article 78 lawsuit alongside Earthjustice poses threat for Plug Power in Alabama

Even though the Nation voiced its opposition to an expansive and expensive endeavor after claiming to not be consulted on the project before its subsequent approval, developers avoided any legal entanglements on their side. 

Initially filed on June 4, the original petition solely named the Genesee Economic Development Agency — not Plug Power — the deciding flaw in Earthjustice’s legal strategy.

Genesee Supreme Court Judge Charles Zambito wrote in a Sept. 28 ruling how the plaintiffs “offer no excuse or explanation why Plug Power was not joined as a party prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations.”

Amending the petition two weeks later on June 18, led to a violation of New York’s Civil Practice Law & Rules 401, a statute dictating the terms of filing and responding to civil lawsuits.