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Federal Common Law Climate Claims: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

Just a few weeks ago, Federal Judge William Alsup ruled that claims brought by San Francisco and Oakland against certain large oil companies belonged in federal court, because they raise issues of federal common law.  Last week, in a similar law suit asserting similar claims, Judge Vince Chhabria remanded the case to state court.  Why?  Because there is no federal common law applicable to such climate-related claims.  … More

Sometimes Guidance Actually Provides Guidance

As regular readers know, the tension between guidance and regulation is one of my favorite topics.  My view is that, in general, guidance is too often used simply to avoid notice and comment rulemaking and that, once issued, it is treated by those implementing it in the agency street-level bureaucracy as though it were a rule.  Nonetheless, guidance is sometimes appropriate.  The recent decision in Sierra Club v.… More

It’s Wise to Make Certain that Contracts Properly Allocate Future Environmental Compliance Costs

Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that AEP, which entered into a consent decree requiring it to install certain pollution controls at its Rockport 1 and 2 power plants, could not force the owner of those plants to pay to install the controls.  The case involved the interpretation of specific contractual language under New York law, but it still has lessons for power plant owners and operators everywhere.… More