Seth Jaffe

Seth Jaffe

Foley Hoag LLP

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News Flash: Cap-and-Trade Remains the Most Efficient Way to Reduce Emissions

Notwithstanding Congressional gridlock on climate change legislation, cap-and-trade remains the tried and true efficient method for reducing air emissions. Although the acid rain provisions of the Clean Air Act are the most...more

10/23/2014 - Appeals Cap-and-Trade Carbon Emissions Clean Air Act Climate Change Energy Energy Policy EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions

More Sauce For Standing the Goose: Industry Associations Cannot Challenge EPA’s E15 Rule

I have previously noted that standing is a double-edged sword. Most commonly, the regulated community uses standing to keep citizen plaintiffs out of court. However, as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrated...more

10/22/2014 - E15 Blend Environmental Policies EPA Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Standing

UCS Says to Add More Renewables to the Clean Power Plan; If It’s Better, Does that Make It Best?

The Union of Concerned Scientists today announced release of a report which attempts to document that the renewable energy “building block” in EPA’s Clean Power Plan is not sufficiently aggressive. The report argues that,...more

10/15/2014 - Clean Power Plan EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Information Reports Renewable Energy

What a Shock?! Nebraska’s Early Challenge to EPA’s Clean Power Plan Is Dismissed

Opponents of EPA’s Clean Power Plan have not been willing to wait until a final rule has been promulgated before challenging EPA’s authority. On Monday, Nebraska’s challenged was dismissed – not surprisingly – as premature....more

10/9/2014 - Clean Air Act Clean Power Plan Energy Policy Act EPA Federal Funding Technology

EPA Really Does Have Authority To Withdraw Specifications Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

Last year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that EPA has authority to withdraw its approval for the specification of sites for the disposal of fill material, even after the Army Corps has issued a permit for the...more

10/3/2014 - Appeals Clean Water Act EPA Industrial Discharges Mining Section 404 US Army Corps of Engineers

The Atmosphere Is a Public Trust. So What?

The last frontier of citizen climate litigation has been state-based litigation alleging that states have a public trust obligation to mitigate climate change. As I have previously noted, I’m skeptical that these cases are...more

10/2/2014 - Climate Change Environmental Policies EPA Public Trust Doctrine

CERCLA Preempts Local Cleanup Bylaws; PRPs Everywhere Breath a Sigh of Relief

In an important decision yesterday, Judge Douglas Woodlock of the District of Massachusetts confirmed that CERCLA preempts local cleanup bylaws. The case involved one aspect of the cleanup of the W.R. Grace Superfund Site in...more

9/24/2014 - CERCLA Contaminated Properties Environmental Policies PRP Superfund

The SAB Enters the “Waters of the United States” Fray: Guess Which Side the Scientists Support

The Science Advisory Board has now provided its advice to EPA and the ACOE concerning their proposed rule clarifying the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. In a brief letter that can only...more

9/23/2014 - Clean Water Act EPA Farm Bureau Science Advisory Board US Army Corps of Engineers Waters of the United States

More Than (You Thought) You Ever Wanted To Know About Waters Of The United States

Over the past few months, I worked with a number of colleagues from the American College of Environmental Lawyers to provide the Environmental Council of the States with a balanced review of the history and background of how...more

9/17/2014 - Clean Water Act Waters of the United States

Some PURPA Qualifying Facilities are More Qualified Than Others

In a fascinating decision last week, a divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Texas Public Utilities Commission had authority to limit the universe of “Qualifying Facilities” under the Public...more

9/15/2014 - Energy FERC Renewable Energy Utilities Sector Wind Power

EPA Proposes to Eliminate Affirmative Defenses for Excess Emissions During Startups, Shutdowns, or Malfunctions — Get Ready for...

This past April, the D.C. Circuit struck down the part of EPA’s cement kiln rule that would have provided an affirmative defense to civil penalties for excess emissions resulting from unavoidable malfunctions. As we noted at...more

9/10/2014 - Affirmative Defenses Carbon Emissions Environmental Policies EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions

NPDES Permits Are Construed Narrowly Against the Permittee

In July, we noted that the Clean Water Act’s permit shield defense would be construed narrowly, applying only where a permittee had clearly disclosed that the relevant pollutant to the agency. This week, in Alaska Community...more

9/8/2014 - Clean Water Act Coal Contamination Discharge of Pollutants Environmental Liability Environmental Policies NPDES

Economic Development Is Not an Unqualified Environmental Evil (In Case You Didn’t Know)

I do not want to suggest that most environmentalists are Luddites or that the environmental movement is opposed to economic development. Indeed, hardly a speech is made today that does not tout the economic benefits of...more

9/5/2014 - Economic Development Environmental Policies

Yes, Virginia, It Is Possible To Win A Fee Award Against An Environmental NGO

Last week, Judge Walter Smith, Jr., ordered the Sierra Club to pay more than six million dollars – yes, you read that correctly – to Energy Future Holdings and Luminant Generation, after finding that the Sierra Club’s Clean...more

9/4/2014 - Citizen Suits Clean Air Act Coal-Fired Plants Fee Awards Oil & Gas Sierra Club

How Low Will They Go? A Lower Ozone NAAQS Begins to Have An Air of Inevitability

On Friday, EPA released its “Policy Assessment for the Review of the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.” EPA staff concluded: that it is appropriate in this review to consider a revised primary O3 standard level...more

9/4/2014 - Air Quality Standards EPA NAAQS

You Can’t Estop the Government — Even When It Wants to Be Estopped

Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that arguably explains everything from why the Tea Party exists to why otherwise calm and sane executives suddenly lose all their hair. Perhaps most astounding,...more

8/22/2014 - Clean Air Act Environmental Policies EPA NAAQS Power Plants

EPA Refuses to Amend Its Backup Generator Rule: Demand Response Breathes Easier

Last Friday, EPA published notice that it would not be revising its regulations on backup generators in response to three petitions for reconsideration it had received after it promulgated its final rule in January 2013. The...more

8/22/2014 - Environmental Policies EPA Fuel Standards

EPA Publishes Final 316(b) Rule: Flexibility for Generators Means Litigation By Environmental Groups

Last Friday, EPA finally published its § 316(b) rule in the Federal Register. As we noted in May, the rule is more significant for what it does not do – require closed cycle cooling – than for what it does....more

8/20/2014 - EPA Final Rules NGOs Power Infrastructure Utilities Sector

It’s Really Difficult to Site a Highway in a Refuge

In an important decision last week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals made clear just how high the hurdles are in the way of building highways in wildlife refuges. The decision in Defenders of Wildlife v. North Carolina DOT...more

8/12/2014 - Critical Habitat Department of Transportation Highways Infrastructure

How Much Deference Do States Get in Entering CERCLA Consent Decrees? Probably A Lot, But Perhaps Not As Much as You Thought

In Cannons Engineering, the First Circuit Court of Appeals famously stated that, when CERCLA consent decrees arrive at the courts of appeal for review, they do so “encased in a double layer of swaddling,” because both the EPA...more

8/6/2014 - CERCLA Consent Decrees Environmental Claims Environmental Policies EPA

The SJC Gives “Great Deference” to the Energy Facilities Siting Board. That’s An Understatement

In two related decisions last week, the Supreme Judicial Court issued three important rulings, and handed the Brockton Power Company one major problem in its long-running effort to build a combined-cycle gas plant in...more

8/5/2014 - Energy Power Plants Urban Planning & Development

More on the Reach of Sackett: Corps Jurisdictional Determinations Are Not Final Agency Action

Early last month, we noted that the decision in Luminant v. EPA suggested that the reach of the Supreme Court decision in Sackett is not unlimited. The Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit agrees. In Belle Company v. Corps of...more

8/5/2014 - Appeals EPA Judicial Review Sackett SCOTUS Subject Matter Jurisdiction US Army Corps of Engineers

Who Gets to Review EPA Actions? The Court of Appeals? The District Court? (Hint: The Answer Is Not “Neither One”)

The general rule under the Clean Air Act is that any: person may bring suit in district court against the EPA Administrator for an alleged failure to perform a nondiscretionary act or duty, and the district court has...more

7/31/2014 - Appeals Clean Air Act EPA Jurisdiction Rulemaking Process Sierra Club

Is Selenium the Coal Industry’s Kryptonite? Citizen Groups Obtain Summary Judgment Based on Water Quality Criteria Exceedances

Last week, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and other NGOs obtained summary judgment that Alex Energy had violated both its NPDES permit and its Surface Mining Permits due to exceedances of the West Virginia water...more

7/28/2014 - Coal Contaminated Properties Contamination Corporate Counsel Environmental Policies Water Water Quality Control Boards

An Update On Standing — Some Specifics Really Are Required

Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed EPA’s approval of Nevada’s State Implementation Plan for regional haze against a challenge by WildEarth Guardians. The decision isn’t earthshaking. However, because it...more

7/22/2014

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