Seth Jaffe

Seth Jaffe

Foley Hoag LLP

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Environmental Impact Analysis — The Impact of a Project on the Environment or the Impact of the Environment on a Project?

Traditionally, environmental impact analysis, under NEPA and state analogs, has focused on the impacts that a proposed project may have on the environment. In Massachusetts, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental...more

11/18/2014 - Climate Change Environmental Assessments Environmental Policies NEPA

Superfund Rant For a New Congress

So the new Congress will be controlled by the GOP. The House and Senate will consider various bills to reign in EPA authority. Here’s one relatively modest suggestion for congressional consideration: amend CERCLA to limit...more

11/12/2014 - CERCLA Environmental Policies EPA Superfund

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

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

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

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

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

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

EPA Wins Two Clean Water Cases in One Day: The Fourth Circuit Affirms a Narrow Construction of the Permit Shield Defense

Yesterday, I noted that the D.C. Circuit rejected challenges to EPA’s Enhanced Coordination Process and Final Guidance on Clean Water Act permitting for mining activities. It was not EPA’s only CWA victory. On the same day,...more

7/15/2014 - Clean Water Act Environmental Policies EPA Mining Water

Still Using Economic (and Safety) Arguments to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Massassachusetts Enacts Gas Leak Legislation

As I noted last year, there has been a concerted effort on the part of those fighting climate change to emphasize economic issues in connection with their policy proposals. That post concerned Senator Markey’s efforts to...more

7/14/2014 - Carbon Emissions Environmental Policies Greenhouse Gas Emissions

83% of a Loaf Is Better Than None: The Supreme Court Affirms EPA’s Authority to Regulate “Anyway Sources”, But Rejects Regulation...

The Supreme Court affirmed EPA’s authority to subject 83% of greenhouse gas emissions to its PSD and Title V Operating Permit programs. However, EPA’s rationale for the rule did not fare so well, and EPA does not have...more

6/25/2014 - BACT Clean Air Act Climate Change Environmental Policies EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Permits Power Plants SCOTUS Title V Utilities Sector Utility Air Regulatory Group v EPA

More on EPA’s GHG Rule: I Am NOT Going To Set Odds on Whether the Rule Would Survive Judicial Review

Last week, in posting about EPA’s Clean Power Plan, I noted that some potential plaintiffs might face standing obstacles in seeking to challenge the rule, assuming it is promulgated as proposed. Today, I take a (very)...more

6/12/2014 - Carbon Emissions Clean Power Plan Energy Environmental Policies EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Power Plants

EPA May Be Regulating GHGs, But Private Litigation Still Looks to be On Shaky Ground

In a case of interesting timing, three days after EPA announced its proposed GHG rules for existing facilities, the D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal of a case seeking an injunction against EPA and other federal defendants...more

6/9/2014 - Air Pollution Carbon Emissions Clean Air Act Environmental Policies EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Public Trust Doctrine

EPA’s GHG Rule: The Really Big Picture View

As some folks may have heard, EPA proposed emission guidelines for GHG emissions from existing generating units on Monday. Obviously, the rule is a little too complicated to summarize in one blog post, though I’ll try to post...more

6/5/2014 - Carbon Emissions Environmental Policies EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Power Plants

When Does the Sixth Circuit Set EPA Rules for the Entire Country? When EPA Regulations Require National Uniformity

In a fascinating decision issued today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down EPA’s Summit Directive. The Summit Directive – sounds ominous – was issued in response to the 2012 decision in Summit Petroleum Corp. v....more

6/2/2014 - Environmental Policies EPA NSR Title V

EPA Promulgates Final Cooling Water Intake Rule: Much Ado About Not Very Much?

On Monday, EPA finally announced promulgation of its long-awaited rule governing cooling water intake structures at existing facilities. The rule is certainly important, but it’s not earthshattering and it may be more...more

5/21/2014 - Environmental Policies EPA NGOs Water

Coming To An Air Quality District Near You: A More Stringent Ozone NAAQS

As we have noted previously, EPA has had difficulty in promulgating a revised National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. Whenever the revised NAAQS is issued – and EPA is under court deadline to propose a draft by...more

5/14/2014 - Environmental Policies EPA NAAQS Regulatory Standards

Light at the End of the Cape Wind Tunnel? Judge Stearns Proclaims the Opponents “Vexatious”

On Friday, Judge Richard Stearns dismissed the latest challenge to Cape Wind, ruling that claims that the Massachusetts DPU coerced NSTAR into purchasing power from Cape Wind, and that such coercion violated the dormant...more

5/6/2014 - Energy Environmental Policies Renewable Energy Wind Power

Is the NSR Enforcement Initiative Dead Yet? Injunctive Relief Claims Dismissed Against U.S. Steel

Last Friday, EPA lost another NSR enforcement case. Not only that, but this was a case EPA had previously won. As we noted last August, Chief Judge Philip Simon of the Northern District of Indiana, had previously ruled that...more

4/24/2014 - Enforcement Environmental Policies EPA Injunctions NSR Sierra Club

Cement Kiln Operators Better Hope that Their Control Technology Works: D.C. Circuit Vacates EPA’s Affirmative Defense Rule

Last week was hazardous air pollutant regulation week at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. First, as we reported, the Court affirmed EPA’s mercury air toxics rule, determining that EPA need not take cost into account in...more

4/23/2014 - Air Pollution Clean Air Act Energy Energy Policy Environmental Policies EPA Power Plants

Enforcement of Municipal Stormwater Ordinances Is Tricky Business: Failure to Enforce an Ordinance Required Under a Permit Is Not...

Stormwater pollution has become an increasingly important problem. Part of the difficulty in solving it is that it’s not obvious who should be responsible. Should cash-strapped municipalities be on the hook or should it be...more

4/14/2014 - Environmental Policies EPA Industrial Stormwater Rule Storm Water

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