Risky Business

Fly Red Bird Husker --- Fly Away!

Posted by Bruce Smith on Jun 17, 2016 10:52:20 AM

Fly Red Bird Husker --- Fly Away!

It is one thing to complain about the violence of college football. I vacillate over that obvious concern. Yet, it is quite another to be disturbed by the pageantry of bright red balloons being released by the thousands of Nebraska football fans following the team’s first touchdown or field goal scored in the home game. For children attending the Saturday spectacle in Lincoln --- in Big Red Country --- it is a magical and awesome moment. I’ve been there many times in my life and such scenes are engraved in my memory forever.

Suddenly, however, an Omaha resident has filed a lawsuit against in Nebraska Federal District Court against the University of Nebraska Board of Regents alleging that such excess constitutes a violation of federal environmental law, specifically the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The complainant suggests the release of all these balloons on football Saturday constitutes an unpermitted open release of solid waste into the environment, endangering animals who consume the leftover popped balloons on the land and in the waters, as well as constituting the dumping of solid waste throughout the State of Nebraska and beyond. To make matters worse, the complaint alleges the balloons have ribbons tied to the red helium filled lighter-than-air balls of Big Red joy. Birds and other animals can become entangled in the ribbons. If they escape, the eastern half of the United States is the ultimate intended target. It is alleged the Husker balloons become "discarded material" and thus "solid waste" under RCRA by virtue of being abandoned after they have served their intended purpose. Husker balloons magically become solid waste the moment they are out of sight of the fans the complainant asserts.

The Complainant alleges that the endangered and threatened wildlife put in harm's way by the mass release of Husker balloons include:

  • Florida Bonneted Bat
  • Gray Bat
  • Indiana Bat
  • Mexican Long-nosed Bat
  • Northern long-eared Bat
  • Ozark Big-eared Bat
  • Virginia Big-eared Bat
  • Audubon's Crested Caracara
  • Mississippi Sandhill Crane
  • Whooping Crane
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  • Eskimo Curlew
  • Northern Aplomado Falcon
  • Black-footed Ferret
  • Attwater's Greater Prairie-chicken
  • Lesser Prairie-chicken
  • Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit
  • Lower Keys Rice Rat
  • Florida Scrub-jay
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Hawksbill Sea Turtle
  • Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle
  • Loggerhead Sea Turtle
  • Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow
  • Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel
  • Wood Stork
  • Least Interior Tern
  • Roseate Tern
  • Piping Plover
  • Southwestern Willow Flycatcher
  • Red Knot
  • West Indian Manatee
  • Alabama Beach Mouse
  • Anastasia Island Beach Mouse
  • Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse
  • Key Largo Cotton Mouse
  • Perdido Key Beach Mouse
  • Southeastern Beach Mouse
  • St. Andrew Beach Mouse
  • Mexican Spotted Owl
  • Alabama Red-belly Turtle,
  • Northern Bog Turtle
  • Flattened Musk Turtle
  • Gopher Tortoise
  • Plymouth Red-belly Turtle
  • Ringed Map Turtle
  • Yellow-blotched Map Turtle
  • Black-capped Vireo
  • Florida Salt Marsh Vole
  • Bachman's Warbler
  • Golden-cheeked Warbler
  • Kirtland's Warbler
  • Finback Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • North Atlantic Right Whale
  • Ivory-billed Woodpecker
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  • Key Largo Woodrat

The complainant seeks an injunction prohibiting the University from “promoting mass balloon releases during football games at Memorial Stadium.”

The pallid sturgeon is an endangered species allegedly existing in the waters of the mighty Missouri River, a tributary that borders the easterly side of the State of Nebraska. While I have never seen such a fish during my sixty-two years of living, I can only assume I am now witnessing the possible extinction of another living species indigenous to the State of Nebraska --- the once fabled wingless red bird seen every fall for the past 50 years in Lincoln, Nebraska and throughout the region:

 Red Nebraska Husker Balloon 

Let the games begin!

If you have further questions, continue and follow our Risk Manager on Your Side or contact Bruce Smith at Goosmann Law Firm, 410 5th Street, Sioux City, Iowa 51101.  Phone: 712-226-4000. 

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Topics: enviromental law