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District Court Limits Tiering of Biological Opinions

On December 5, 2014, a federal district court held that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it relied entirely on existing programmatic biological opinions to...more

Illinois Supreme Court Agrees to Decide FutureGen Clean Coal Dispute

In the closing days of its November term, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to decide an issue of potentially enormous consequence to a major Illinois utility, agreeing to review an order of the Illinois Commerce Commission...more

DOT Denies Request to Prohibit Shipment of Bakken Crude Oil on Older Tank Cars; Environmental Groups Push Battle to Courtroom

On December 2, 2014 following the Department of Transportation’s (“DOT”) November 7, 2014 denial of their request for an immediate ban on use of older DOT-111 or CTC-111 railcars for the shipment of crude oil from the Bakken...more

EPA Does Not Have a Nondiscretionary Duty to Revise PSD Regulations When It Amends a NAAQS

On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that EPA does not have an obligation to amend PSD regulations for a criteria pollutant within two years of revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for that...more

CEQA Lead Agencies Do Not Waive Defense that CEQA Did Not Apply Despite Proceeding under CEQA

Recently, the court in Rominger v. County of Colusa found that a lead agency which approved a mitigated negative declaration for a project, can take the seemingly inconsistent position that the proposed project was not a...more

European Companies Appeal ECHA Titanium Dioxide Decision

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) published on November 3, 2014, an announcement of appeal of a June 17, 2014, contested decision following a compliance check of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction...more

Real Estate and Land Use - November 2014

Change of Heart – Court of Appeal Reverses Opinion in Bowman v. California Coastal Commission - Why it matters: The court in Bowman originally held that a permit condition could not be modified or deleted by a second...more

Supreme Court Asked to Allow Immediate Judicial Review of Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Determinations

A landfill developer has asked the Supreme Court to review a decision of the Fifth Circuit holding that a jurisdictional determination by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not final agency action subject to judicial review....more

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

Numerous Parties Line Up in Support of Petition in Delta Smelt Case

As we reported here, on October 6, 2014, a number of public water agencies and other entities that represent agricultural and municipal water users in California filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme...more

FERC Issues Declaratory Order Disclaiming Jurisdiction Over Proposed CNG Facility

On September 19, 2014, FERC issued a declaratory order holding that it would not have jurisdiction under the Natural Gas Act ("NGA") over the construction or operation of a compressed natural gas ("CNG") facility that Emera...more

Supreme Court Finally Schedules Oral Argument In CEQA Categorical Exemption Case

At long last, the California Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in the case of Berkeley Hillside Preservation, et al. v. City of Berkeley, Supreme Court Case No. S201116. By its long-awaited order issued October 31,...more

Maine Supreme Court Affirms Broad Review Powers for BEP in Clearing Way for Wind Project

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court (the Law Court) recently issued an important decision that confirms the broad authority of the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) to review decisions of the Commissioner of the...more

Court Affirms FEMA’s Efforts to Implement Actions to Avoid Jeopardizing Listed Species

On October 23rd the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington upheld the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) compliance with a 2008 reasonable and prudent...more

Maine Supreme Court Backs Passadumkeag Windpark LLC

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued a decision this week that upholds a decision by the Board of Environmental Protection that approved a wind energy project proposed by Passadumkeag Windpark, LLC....more

Uncertainty Prevails as Illinois Delays a Decision on Fracing Regulations

Last week, Illinois’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted to push back its decision about whether to approve proposed rules governing horizontal fracturing operations until November 6. The delay promises to fuel...more

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

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

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

Tribe’s Gamble That Casino Land Transfer Approval Not Subject to CEQA Pays Off

Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians v. Brown, C074506 (9/24/2014) - In a recent Third District Court of Appeal published opinion, the court in Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (3rd....more

Attorney Labor For Preparing CEQA Administrative Record Is Recoverable Cost Where Specialized Knowledge Required, Holds Fourth...

In a partially-published opinion filed September 29, 2014, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed an order and judgment permitting the County of San Diego to recover actual labor costs incurred for an attorney and...more

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

Court Holds Lack of Specificity Dooms Wyoming Wolf Delisting

On September 23, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated the final rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) delisting the Wyoming Gray Wolf distinct population segment from...more

District Court Rules that Claims Challenging Forest Management Are Ripe and Final

Last week, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida determined that a group of plaintiffs could bring a claim against the U.S. National Park Service challenging actions that were characterized by...more

CEQA Reform in the Courts – Public Agency Can Recover Costs Despite Petitioner's Election

After Governor Brown took office for the second time, CEQA reform through the Legislature seemed like a distinct possibility. While that possibility has all but evaporated, recent rulings suggest that courts are taking a...more

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