Monthly Archives: June 2017

EPA Does Not Have a Non-Discretionary Duty to Assess the Impact of Clean Air Regulations on Employment

Yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed a District Court decision and rejected the lawsuit by Murray Energy which argued that EPA had a non-discretionary duty under § 321(a) of the Clean Air Act to:

conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provision of this chapter and applicable implementation plans,… More

Meet the New WOTUS. Same as the Old WOTUS.

Earlier this week, EPA and the ACOE began implementing the Trump administration’s efforts to deconstruct the Obama rule defining “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  EPA and the ACOE submitted for Federal Register publication a proposed rule that would temporarily restore the WOTUS definition that existed prior to the promulgation of the Obama rule in 2015, while they go about drafting a narrower definition.… More

D.C. District Court Determines that Dakota Access Environmental Assessment was Inadequate

On June 14, 2017, the District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Court found that the Army Corps of Engineers (“the Corps”) had not adequately considered several issues in its environmental assessment (“EA”) for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and that therefore the Corps’ decision-making was arbitrary and capricious.

The EA was undertaken pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”),… More

Attorneys General Continue to Battle the Trump Administration Over Environmental Regulations

Democratic Attorneys General have continued their efforts to combat the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back environmental regulations developed under the Obama administration in two recent actions. Thirteen AGs, including Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, sent a letter last week to Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, threatening legal action if the agency takes steps to weaken or delay the greenhouse gas emissions standards that were established in 2012 for cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2022-2025.… More

Climate Change Skeptics Occasionally Become Believers, But Believers Don’t Become Skeptics. Why Is That?

On Friday, Greenwire published a very interesting interview with Jerry Taylor, every climate advocate’s favorite Libertarian. The interview chronicles Taylor’s journey from climate skeptic to climate believer.  For those of you who don’t know his story, Taylor left the Cato Institute to found the Niskanen Center, where he works on promoting Libertarian solutions to climate change.

I’ve seen stories about Taylor before and Greenwire’s piece is an excellent interview (and thanks to Greenwire for taking this out from behind its pay wall and making it available for free!). … More

The Latest on Shareholder Climate Activity: BlackRock Begins Explaining Its Votes

We previously noted BlackRock’s recent shareholder votes in favor of increased reporting of climate risks by ExxonMobil and Occidental.  Now, BlackRock has stepped it up a notch by including “vote bulletins” on its investment stewardship web page.  The bulletins will be provided:

in relation to certain high profile proposals at company shareholder meetings. Although we currently explain many of these votes in our quarterly reports,… More

MassDEP Issues Final Pile Field Determination: Get Fixin’!

Back in September and February, we wrote about MassDEP’s Proposed Interpretation of Chapter 91 regulations, which attempted to provide guidance to the regulated community on the conditions under which a historic pile field can contribute to the “project shoreline” — the outer boundary of a development proposal.  Triggered by proposed redevelopment of Lewis Wharf, the proposed interpretation essentially stated that if the piles comprising a pile field were no longer visible at “Extreme High Water”,… More

Attorney General Sessions Bars Settlement Payments to Third Parties: RIP SEPs?

Earlier this week, Attorney General Sessions issued a brief memorandum barring DOJ from entering into any civil or criminal settlement that would provide for a payment by a defendant to any non-governmental person that is not a party to the dispute.

Where does this leave the common practice of mitigating enforcement penalties through the implementation of Supplemental Environmental Projects?  Hanging on by a thread, I’d say.… More

Shareholders at ExxonMobil Vote in Favor of Climate Change Reporting

On May 31, shareholders at Exxon Mobil Corp. (“ExxonMobil”) voted in favor of a climate change resolution asking the company to publish an annual report on the business impact of measures designed to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees centigrade, the target set by the Paris Agreement.

The non-binding resolution passed with more than 62% of the votes cast. Specifically, the resolution asks that,… More