Citizen activism is a fundamental aspect of this nation's culture. In environmental matters, citizen advocates play one of the most critical roles in defining, setting priorities for, and resolving the issues of our daily lives. Citizen groups are spoilers, to be sure, but matters would be worse for the absence of their essential voice. Beginning in the early 1970s, public nuisance law diminished ... [Show full abstract] in importance when Congress empowered citizen groups through a series of court-access provisions written into federal environmental laws. These provisions allow any person to act as a private attorney general for the US in a citizen suit, to ensure enforcement of the newly enacted environmental laws. Under a typical provision, the legal action is straightforward: a person files an action in federal court for force a discharger of pollutants to comply with the federal law. The new citizen attorney general only has to meet two criteria: injury, usually demonstrated by damage to some active use of the resource by the plaintiff; and an ongoing law violation, a simple affair because of other provisions that require extensive and publicly available self monitoring.