Environmental Civil Procedure Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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NEPA Review — Still the Land of Deference

Last week, District Judge Ralph Beistline allowed the summary judgment motion filed by the United States Forest Service, and dismissed citizen claims challenging the Forest Service decision to approve an logging project in an...more

Agencies Must Aim for Recovery of the Species When Designating Critical Habitat

In a decision issued earlier this week, a U.S. District Court rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) interpretation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), finding that its interpretation of the critical habitat...more

MATS in the Supreme Court–Toxic to EPA?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday on whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unreasonably decided not to consider the cost of regulation when the EPA determined it was “appropriate and necessary” to...more

Ohio Wind Developer and FWS Successfully Defend Incidental Take Permit for Endangered Indiana Bat

A proposed Ohio wind farm cleared another legal hurdle last week when Judge Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (“FWS”) issuance of an incidental...more

Ninth Circuit Dismisses Action Alleging San Francisco Violated the Endangered Species Act

In a three-page memorandum decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed Wild Equity and other groups’ appeal from a lower court decision, dismissing as moot a lawsuit alleging that the City and...more

Texas small hydro project loses exemption

What happens to a proposed hydroelectric project takes longer than anticipated to be built, due to difficulties with project financing and severe flooding? As the developer of a proposed project in Texas recently found out,...more

Court Upholds Endangered Species Act Incidental Take Permit for Windfarm

On March 17, 2015, Judge Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a memorandum opinion upholding the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) issuance of an incidental take permit...more

Ruling Complicated Use of CEQA's Categorical Exemptions

Categorical exemptions from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, do not apply to projects involving a reasonable possibility of a significant effect on the environment due to unusual...more

Independent Producers Lead Legal Challenge Against BLM’s Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

After a regulatory review process lasting more than three years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued today a final rule purporting to govern hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. Given BLM’s failure to...more

New Source Review Update: Courts Limit Aggregation for Major Source Determination and Challenges to NSR Pre-Project Emissions...

Pennsylvania Court Limits NSR Permit Aggregation - In February, the Middle District of Pennsylvania struck down an environmental group’s challenge that Ultra Resources should have aggregated eight compressor stations...more

D.C. District Court Denies Utility’s Intervention Because of Timing

On March 17, 2015, the D.C. District Court denied the Public Service Company of New Hampshire’s (PSNH’s) motion to intervene in a Sierra Club-initiated proceeding urging the U.S. EPA to object to a Title V permit for one of...more

Coal and Transportation Companies Challenge Ninth Circuit Decision Limiting CWA Permit Shield Defense

On March 3, 2015, Aurora Energy Services, LLC and the Alaska Railroad Corp. filed a petition for writ of certiorari asking the United States Supreme Court to resolve a circuit split regarding the scope of the Clean Water...more

District Court Rejects Claim to Aggregate Series of Compressor Stations

A federal judge in Pennsylvania recently denied an environmental group’s attempt to subject a driller’s gas compressor stations to stricter regulatory permitting. This decision provides reliable guidance for drillers on the...more

Source Aggregation: Recent Court Decision Addresses Whether Certain Facilities are "Adjacent"

On February 23, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a decision finding eight compressor stations to be "separate sources" under the Clean Air Act and State of Pennsylvania regulations....more

California Supreme Court Grants Review of Decision Invalidating SANDAG Regional Transportation Plan

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review the appellate court decision Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments. As we previously reported, the court of appeal in that case...more

CEQA “Common Sense” Exemption Upheld; Environmental Baseline for Project Following Improvements Pursuant to an Emergency Exemption...

CREED-21 v. City of San Diego (2/18/2015, 4th Civil No. D064186) - The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a CEQA exemption related to the City of San Diego’s approval of a project comprising emergency storm drainage...more

Sacramento Kings Win Again; Second CEQA Challenge Rejected

Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento (2/18/2015, 3d Civil No. C077772). The Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District of California has ruled in favor of the City of Sacramento with regard to a series of challenges...more

EU Court limits the scope of environmental liability for new owners of polluted land

The Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) has shed light on the application of the “polluter pays” principle in the context of the EU’s Environmental Liability Directive. The judgment, handed down on 4 March...more

California Supreme Court Announces New Test for CEQA “Unusual Circumstances” Exception

Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (2015) ___ Cal.4th ___, Case No. S201116 - This week the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the Berkeley Hillside case, which considered...more

Protective Order Issued in Suit to Stop EPA from Releasing Farmers’ Information

A federal district court in Minnesota recently issued a protective order prohibiting the EPA from releasing information about animal feeding operations—including farmers' names, home addresses, telephone numbers and email...more

It’s Not Unusual: California Supreme Court Declines to Expand “Unusual Circumstances” Exception to CEQA Categorical Exemptions

In an important and highly anticipated decision under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the California Supreme Court overturned a Court of Appeal’s decision that would have severely limited public agencies’...more

General Permit Shields Mining Company from Liability for Selenium Discharge

In Sierra Club v ICG Hazard , LLC, 2015 WL 643382, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that a Kentucky coal mining company could not be sued by an environmental group for discharging selenium into...more

Petroleum Companies Dismissed from Pair of Louisiana Federal Lawsuits Alleging Environmental Impact to Canals and Coastal Lands

Federal judges in the Eastern District of Louisiana recently dismissed a pair of cases against petroleum companies relating to their legacy exploration and production activities. In Alford v. Anadarko E&P Onshore LLC, 2015...more

California Supreme Court Establishes the Standard of Review for the Unusual Circumstances Exception to CEQA Categorical Exemptions...

Breathing life into the use of CEQA categorical exemptions, on March 2, 2015, the California Supreme Court held that a reasonable possibility that a project may result in significant effects on the environment alone is not...more

Government & Regulatory Law Update March 2015: California Supreme Court Issues Decision in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City...

On March 2, 2015, the California Supreme Court issued its long awaited opinion in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (“Berkeley”). The opinion clarifies two important issues relating to the California...more

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