I will confess that I do enjoy being correct. In 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to defer to a state agency determination of the procedural and substantive fairness of a CERCLA consent decree. Various parties and commentators promptly began, if I may say so, to run around like chickens with their heads cut off. However, I remained calm. I stated then:
I’m assuming that, on remand, the district court will engage in the required review and again approve the settlements.
On July 13, the District Court on remand did exactly that. In a concise opinion, Judge Jorgenson ran through the established criteria used to establish procedural and substantive fairness and – properly – blessed the settlements.
The original 9th Circuit decision did no more than ensure that district courts would not rubber stamp state consent decrees under CERCLA. This is a good outcome, one which did not impose any unreasonable burden either on state agencies or district courts.