Seth Jaffe

Seth Jaffe

Foley Hoag LLP

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I’m Still a Cockeyed Optimist When It Comes to Climate Change

Last week, NRG Energy announced plans to reduce CO2 emissions 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050. And this reduction is not from a 1990 or 2005 baseline; it is from 2014 emissions. NRG’s statement indicated that it had already...more

11/25/2014 - Cap-and-Trade Carbon Emissions Carbon Taxes Climate Change Energy Policy

Should Watersheds Have Standing? Should Corporations?

In his seminal essay in 1972, Christopher Stone famously asked “Should Trees Have Standing?” Apart from Justice Douglas’s dissent in Sierra Club v. Morton, the idea has never gained much traction, at least in United States...more

11/24/2014 - Corporate Counsel Drilling Waste Disposal Fracking Local Ordinance Standing Watershed

Massachusetts Climate Adaptation Policy: How Broad Will It Be?

Yesterday, I suggested that Massachusetts EOEEA may not have authority to issue its “MEPA Climate Change Adaptation and Resiliency Policy.” However, since I also conceded that Massachusetts courts are unlikely to agree with...more

11/19/2014 - Climate Change Energy Policy

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

Transportation Projects Get A Lot Of Deference in Demonstrating Compliance With Air Quality Standards

In a decision late last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made clear just how much deference agencies can get under the Supreme Court decisions in Chevron and Auer. The question in NRDC v. USDOT was whether, in...more

11/11/2014 - Department of Transportation Highways Port of Los Angeles Ports SIP Surface Transportation

Do Takes of the Utah Prairie Dog Affect Interstate Commerce? Only When McDonalds Starts Serving Prairie Burgers

Earlier this week, in a suit brought by the beautifully named People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, Judge Dee Benson ruled that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service could not regulate takes of the Utah...more

11/10/2014 - Endangered Species Act ESA Listings Fish and Wildlife Service Incidental Take Permits Interstate Commerce

Regulation of GHG Emissions Becomes Real: Hyundai and Kia Settle For $350 Million

If readers have been wondering when GHG regulation would truly feel real, EPA may have delivered the answer yesterday, with its announcement of a $350 million settlement with Hyundai and Kia over allegations of violations of...more

11/5/2014 - Auto Manufacturers Automotive Industry EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Hyundai Kia Settlement

EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Potentially New and Improved?

On Tuesday, EPA issued a Notice of Data Availability, requesting further comment on some specific issues that have been raised since it published its draft Clean Power Plan in June. My immediate reaction? My head hurts....more

10/30/2014 - Clean Power Plan Coal Industry Energy Efficiency Energy Policy EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Natural Gas Oil & Gas Renewable Energy

FERC’s Order 745 — Still In Effect For Now

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed its mandate vacating FERC Order no. 745, regarding demand response. The mandate is stayed at least until December 16, 2014, by which point FERC must petition the Supreme Court for...more

10/27/2014 - Appeals Chevron Deference FERC

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

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