Seth Jaffe

Seth Jaffe

Foley Hoag LLP

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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

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

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

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

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

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

The D.C. Circuit Rejects Challenge to EPA’s Final Guidance on CWA Coal Mining Permits: EPA Action Has to Be Really, Really, Final...

On Friday, the D.C. Circuit reversed Judge Reggie Walton’s decision from 2012 and affirmed EPA’s authority to adopt the “Enhanced Coordination Process” governing coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers in the processing...more

7/14/2014 - Clean Water Act EPA Final Guidance Land-Use Permits Permits US Army Corps of Engineers

The Reach of Sackett is Not Infinite: Regulated Facilities May Not Challenge EPA Notices of Violation

After the Supreme Court held in Sackett v. EPA that EPA must provide hearings to those to whom it issues unilateral administrative orders, the regulated community immediately began to wonder how broadly the ruling would...more

7/10/2014 - Administrative Hearings EPA Notice of Violation Sackett SCOTUS

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

EPA On Track to Regulate Fine Particulates More Stringently: D.C. Circuit Affirms Revised PM 2.5 NAAQS

EPA’s judicial winning streak continues. Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed EPA’s regulations lowering the PM 2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard from 15.0 ug/m3 to 12.0 ug/m3. This was not a close case...more

5/12/2014 - Appeals EPA NAAQS

The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth — And the Supreme Court Says EPA Therefore Has Discretion in Regulating Wind-Borne Pollution

The Supreme Court today reversed the D.C. Circuit and affirmed EPA’s Transport Rule (known more formally as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule). Whatever the hopes and dreams of the upwind states and the industry opponents,...more

4/30/2014 - Clean Air Act EPA SCOTUS Transport Rule

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

D.C. Circuit Affirms EPA’s Utility Air Toxics Rule: An “Appropriate” Rule Need Not Be Justified By Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed EPA’s rule setting limits for emissions of mercury and other air toxics from fossil-fuel-fired electric steam generating units. The focus of the decision – and the issue...more

4/17/2014 - Air Pollution EPA National Emissions Standards Trucking Industry

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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