Monthly Archives: June 2015

Do Climate Change and Same-Sex Marriage Have Anything in Common?

Recent events have me pondering this question.

Most notably, in two court decisions last week, courts ordered the State of Washington and the government of the Netherlands to take more aggressive action against climate change.  In the Washington case, in response to a complaint from eight teenagers, a trial court judge has ordered the Washington Department of Ecology to reconsider a petition filed by the teenagers requesting reductions in GHG emissions. … More

The Second Installment of our Paris Climate Change Negotiations Tracker

As the date for the Paris climate talks logomoves closer, we have our second installment of our climate negotiations tracker.  This episode discusses the concept of “dynamism” – being able to adjust over time just how ambitious the mitigation goals will be; the mechanism for assessing the Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs; the role of non-state actors; and how to differentiate among developed and developing countries.… More

FWS To Authorize Incidental Takes Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act?

Late last month, the Fish & Wildlife Service issued a Notice of Intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement to evaluate various options for authorizing incidental takes under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  Of likely the greatest interest to the regulated community, FWS will consider issuing general permits, with performance standards, for certain industry sectors.  FWS specifically called out the following sectors:

Environmental Impact Assessments Don’t Have to Be Wise, But They May Not Assume Their Conclusion

In an important decision last week, United States District Judge Jorge Alonso rejected the Environmental Impact Statement for the Illiana Corridor Project, Illianawhich would connect I55 in Illinois to I65 in Indiana. (And why Illiana?  Why not Indianois?)

The two key criticisms were raised by metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in Illinois and Indiana.  First, they argued that DOT used a “market-based” population forecast that showed much faster growth in rural areas than the “policy-based” forecast used by the planning agencies. … More

EPA’s EJSCREEN: Making Citizen Environmental Suits Just a Little Bit Easier

I have previously noted that EPA, perhaps recognizing that an unfriendly Congress will lead to budgetary constraints on government enforcement, has been trying to facilitate citizen enforcement efforts.  EPA’s latest move on this front was the recent release of “EJSCREEN:  Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool.”  environmental-justice

Putting aside the definitional concerns that many people have concerning environmental justice, there is no doubt that tools such as EJSCREEN can provide powerful assistance to groups who think that they may have suffered disparate environmental impacts. … More

No, Virginia, You Can’t Challenge a Rule that Hasn’t Even Been Promulgated

Easy way to tell when you’ve lost your appeal?  When a pithy judge starts making fun of you in the first sentence of the opinion.  In a case that was only ever going to have one outcome, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected all of the pre-promulgation challenges to EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  Judge Kavanaugh began by noting that:

Petitioners are champing at the bit to challenge EPA’s anticipated rule restricting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.… More

If Congress Wants to Limit EPA’s Discretion, Perhaps It Should Do a Better Job Legislating

Earlier this week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected both industry and environmental group petitions challenging EPA’s determination of what is a solid waste in the context of Clean Air Act standards for incinerators and other combustion units.  It wasn’t actually a difficult case, but it does provide a lesson for Congress.  When the technical nature of EPA’s decisions was layered on top of the fundamental deference given EPA’s interpretation of the statute under Chevron,… More