Monthly Archives: March 2017

Exxon Case Against AGs Transferred to New York: Judge Kinkeade Fires a Parting Shot

On Wednesday, Judge Ed Kinkeade ordered that Exxon Mobil’s suit against NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey be transferred to the Southern District of New York.  The AGs must be breathing sighs of relief this morning.

It’s a very curious order.  It’s 12 pages long, yet contains just one sentence explaining why the case is being transferred:

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is the proper venue for this case because “a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” in New York City,… More

McDonalds Won’t Be Serving Utah Prairie Dog Burgers Any Time Soon

On Wednesday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held that regulation of takes of the Utah prairie dog, a purely intrastate species, does not violate the Constitution.  Reversing the decision below, the 10th Circuit joined all four other circuit courts to have dealt with the issue thus far in upholding the ESA against such Commerce Clause challenges.

I will note that I predicted this outcome when the District Court case was decided,… More

The Latest Executive Order: Any Kind of Consistency Is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds

Make no mistake, the Executive Order signed by President Trump at EPA yesterday is a big deal.  Time will tell whether the Administration’s U-turn on the Obama rules currently in litigation, such as the Clean Power Plan and the rule on fracking on federal lands will make any difference to judicial review of those rules.  There are plenty of states and NGOs ready to step into EPA’s and BLM’s shoes to defend those rules.… More

Promulgation of TMDLs Does Not Create a Non-Discretionary Duty to Require NPDES Permits

When EPA approved total maximum daily loads for the Charles River, but failed to require NPDES permits for persons discharging stormwater to the Charles, CLF sued.  CLF alleged that EPA violated a non-discretionary duty when it failed to require the permits.  Last Friday, Judge Richard Stearns dismissed CLF’s suit.

EPA’s regulations provide that it will issue NPDES permits where it:

Determines that the discharge,… More

Court Orders EPA to Promulgate Air Toxics Standards: A Taste of What’s to Come?

On Wednesday, federal Judge Christopher Cooper ordered EPA to promulgate emissions standards for 13 sources of hazardous air pollutants by June 30, 2020.  EPA admitted that it missed statutory deadlines to do so; the only argument was over how much time EPA should have.  EPA asked for 4 ½ years, while the plaintiffs suggested two.  Judge Cooper pretty much split the difference.

Why is the case important? … More

The Conservative Case for Chevron Deference, Chapter 3 (Plus an Auer Bonus!)

The conservative cases in support of Chevron deference keep arriving.  This week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed EPA’s federal implementation plan for compliance with its regional haze regulations by the Navajo Generating Station, which is apparently the largest coal-fired power plant in the western United States.  Environmentalists challenged the FIP on a number of grounds, including EPA’s decision to grant Navajo Generating emission credits for some early NOx reductions as well as the amount of time the FIP gave the facility to attain the required reductions.… More

Has EPA Region I Lost Its Treasured Independence?

Earlier this month, Trump transition team member David Schnare sent a memorandum to EPA Assistant Administrators and Regional Administrators.  The one-paragraph memo directs AAs and RAs:  

to identify and send upward any proposed decisions or final agency actions for the Administrator’s review which, in the judgement of the Acting RA’s and AA’s would limit the flexibility of the States, limit energy resource use,… More

If a Climate Change Report Falls in the White House, Does Anyone Hear It?

This week, the National Academy of Sciences Committee tasked with reviewing the Climate Science Special Report, issued by the Obama administration, basically blessed it.  They had some comments, but I’ve been through the NAS review process; they always have comments.  Their top line?  

The Committee commends the CSSR authors for producing an impressive, timely, and generally well-written draft report and was impressed with the breadth,… More

CLF Takes Its MHP Fight Across the Fort Point Channel

Last week we wrote about the Conservation Law Foundation filing suit against EOEEA Secretary Beaton and DEP Commissioner Suuberg for actions associated with the approval of an amendment to the South Boston Waterfront District Municipal Harbor Plan.  In that suit, CLF alleged that the Secretary’s decision approving the plan was arbitrary and capricious.

This week, CLF is in the news again for sending a letter to Secretary Beaton requesting that he delay the state’s approval process for another Municipal Harbor Plan located just across the Fort Point Channel.… More

The Conservative Case for Chevron Deference: Chapter 2

In January, I argued that conservative opposition to the Chevron doctrine seemed inconsistent with conservative ideology and I noted, at a practical level, that opposition to Chevron does not always yield the results conservative want.

Last Friday, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia provided more evidence supporting my thesis.  The Court affirmed the decision of the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the gray wolf as endangered in Wyoming,… More

The Executive Order on the WOTUS Rule: Will It Really Reduce Regulatory Uncertainty?

On Tuesday, President Trump issued another executive order on the environment, this time directing EPA to revisit the EPA rule defining Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act.  It’s a curious order, for a number of reasons.

First, Section 1 of the EO states as “Policy” that “minimizing regulatory uncertainty” is in the national interest.  Well, the purpose of the WOTUS rule was pretty much to reduce the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the definition of WOTUS. … More