Thursday, February 25, 2016

Arizona DEQ v. U.S. EPA

<> Arizona DEQ v. U.S. EPA -  2/24/16. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 13-70366 & 13-70410. The panel denied consolidated petitions for review of a Final Rule, promulgated by U.S. EPA under the Clean Air Act, that partially disapproved Arizona's regional haze State Implementation Plan (SIP) – setting forth emission limits and other measures – and issued a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) in place of the disapproved SIP elements.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

State of New Mexico v. Trujillo

<> State of New Mexico v. Trujillo - 2/19/16. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Case No. 15-2047. Elisa Trujillo holds a domestic well permit that allows her to divert the Basin's underground water. During an individual adjudication, she and the State disputed her water rights. In 2010, the special master granted summary judgment in favor of the State. On appeal, she presents no developed argument challenging the special master's summary judgment order that served as a basis for the 2015 order. The Panel affirmed the summary judgment in favor of the State.

In Re: U.S. DOD & EPA & the Definition Of WOTUS

<> In Re: U.S. DOD & EPA & the Definition Of WOTUS - 2/22/16. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Consolidated Case Nos. 15-3751 /3799/ 3817/ 3820/ 3822/ 3823/ 3831/ 3837/ 3839/ 3850/ 3853/ 3858/ 3885/ 3887/ 3948/ 4159/ 4162/ 4188/ 4211/ 4234/ 4305/ 4404.
     This multi-circuit case consists of numerous consolidated petitions challenging the validity of the "Clean Water Rule" recently published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("the Agencies"). The Clean Water Rule is intended to clarify the scope of "the waters of the United States" [WOTUS] subject to protection under the Clean Water Act. The Act provides that certain specified actions of the EPA Administrator are reviewable directly in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Because of uncertainty about whether the Agencies' adoption of the Clean Water Rule is among these specified actions, parties challenging the Rule have filed petitions in both district courts and circuit courts across the country. Many of the petitions have been transferred to the Sixth Circuit for consolidation in this action. Many of the petitioners and other parties now move to dismiss the very petitions they filed invoking this court's jurisdiction, contending this court lacks jurisdiction to review the Clean Water Rule.
     The movants find support for their position in the language of the Clean Water Act's judicial review provisions, which purport to define circuit court jurisdiction specifically and narrowly. Over the last 35 years, however, courts, including the Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit, have favored a "functional" approach over a "formalistic" one in construing these provisions. These precedents support the Agencies' position that this court does have jurisdiction. The district courts that have confronted the jurisdictional question in this litigation have arrived at conflicting answers.1 For the reasons that follow I conclude that Congress's manifest purposes are best fulfilled by our exercise of jurisdiction to review the instant petitions for review of the Clean Water Rule.

     Separate concurring and dissenting opinions were filed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sanders v. Energy Northwest

<> Sanders v. Energy Northwest - 2/12/16. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No.14-35368. In a split decision, the majority affirmed the district court's summary judgment on a claim of whistleblower retaliation in violation of the Energy Reorganization Act, the panel held that the plaintiff did not engage in protected activity when he objected to the security level designation given to an internal "condition report" of a safety procedure violation concerning access badges. 

     The dissenting Judge wrote that the majority wrongly narrowed the scope of the Energy Reorganization Act by rejecting the whistleblower claim on the basis that the safety problems were not overlooked, neglected, or concealed by management and were not concrete and ongoing issues.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reece v. AES Corporation

<> Reece v. AES Corporation - 2/9/16. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Case No. 14-7010. Plaintiffs' class action suit alleged that several companies were responsible for environmental pollution stemming from the generation and disposal of coal-combustion waste and fluid waste from oil and gas drilling. 
     Plaintiffs challenge the district court's denial of their two motions for remand and also its dismissal of their amended complaint. The Panel ruled: "Because we agree with the district court's disposition of the remand motions and conclude that Plaintiffs failed to adequately allege the element of injury in their amended complaint, we affirm the district court's judgment."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SCOTUS: Clean Power Plan Carbon Pollution Controls On Hold

<> SCOTUS: Clean Power Plan Carbon Pollution Controls On Hold - Dividing five to four, the Supreme Court on Tuesday evening ordered the Obama administration not to take any steps to carry out its "Clean Power Plan," a move that may stall the plan until after the president leaves office next January -- the order — issued in identical form in individual responses to five separate challenges — will spare the operators of coal-fired power plants from having to do anything to begin planning for a shift to energy sources that the government considers to be cleaner.

  • Example of the five orders - "The Environmental Protection Agency's 'Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,' 80 Fed. Reg. 64,662 (October 23, 2015), is stayed pending disposition of the applicants' petitions for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and disposition of the applicants' petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is sought."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

DeKalb County v. U.S. Department of Labor, et al.

<> DeKalb County v. U.S. Department of Labor, et al. - 2/8/16. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, Case No. 14-15435. The petition for review request clarification of the standard the Department of Labor's Administrative Review Board applies to an appeal from an Administrative Law Judge's findings and conclusions in a proceeding under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
     The Panel concludes: ". . .that reviewing for substantial evidence would not have changed the result because the Board reversed the ALJ on matters of law, not fact. We therefore deny the petition for review."

Thursday, February 4, 2016

State of Nebraska v. EPA

<> State of Nebraska v. EPA - 2/3/16. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, Case Nos.12-3084 &12-3085. The Panel ruled U.S. EPA did not exceed its statutory authority in rejecting the State of Nebraska's   Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) determination for the Gerald Gentleman Station, a Nebraska electric power plant subject to BART because of its impact on sites in South Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado and Missouri; nor did the EPA err in promulgating a federal implementation plan relying on the Transport Rule to satisfy the Clean Air Act as that decision was not arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not in accordance with the law; EPA's decision not to require a scrubber at the Station was not an abuse of its discretion.

Monday, February 1, 2016

In re: Idaho Conservation League, et al.

<> In re: Idaho Conservation League, et al. - 1/29/16. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, Case No. 14-1149. On Petition For Writ of Mandamus to the U.S. EPA. Opposition intervenor National Mining Association. Petitioners and EPA have now filed a joint motion for an order on consent establishing an agreed upon schedule for a rulemaking for the hardrock mining industry and timetable by which EPA would consider whether other industries would be involved with a financial assurance rulemaking.
   The Panel ruled: "We grant the joint motion. At least one of the petitioners has standing under Article III of the Constitution, and because the joint motion resolves the issues presented by the petition for mandamus, the court has no occasion to decide whether EPA's delay in promulgating section 108(b) regulations was unreasonable delay for which mandamus would lie."