Judge won't let Sierra Club join oil spill lawsuit

By HARRY R. WEBER | June 28, 2011 | 2:45 PM EDT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal magistrate judge won't allow the Sierra Club to join a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against BP and other companies over last year's disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Judge Sally Shushan says in her order Tuesday that the environmental group can file briefs with the court to make its positions known and, if there is a settlement, it would be allowed to present public comment.

The Justice Department had objected to the Sierra Club's Feb. 7 motion to intervene, arguing that if the request was granted the rights of the United States would be hurt by denying it exclusive control over the prosecution of its claims.

The group said it wanted a seat at the table to make sure coastal communities are fairly represented and compensated.