Environmental Constitutional Law Civil Procedure

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Utah Prairie Dog Could Narrow Endangered Species Act

A Utah federal court has created the potential for a constitutional showdown that could result in a significant narrowing of the Endangered Species Act and further limiting Congress’ power to legislate. In an unprecedented...more

DTSC’s Lien Procedure Found to Violate Due Process

In Van Horn v. Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”), a California Court of Appeal found that DTSC’s procedure for imposing liens on property under the California “Superfund” law violates due process of law....more

Sale of Property for Secular Use Does Not Constitute “Religious Exercise”

The Northern District of California recently dismissed RLUIPA claims filed by the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (the “Conference”) against the City of San Francisco. The case revolves around the...more

Condemnation and Contamination: The Spectre of Double Liability

Agencies acquiring private property for a public project conduct thorough investigations to determine whether the property has environmental contamination. If contamination is found, the question arises whether evidence of...more

Ninth Circuit Lifts the Veil: Explains How to Comply With Endangered Species Act 60-Day Notice Requirement

The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) imposes certain procedural hurdles on any would-be plaintiff commencing a citizen suit to compel compliance with the ESA. One of the more substantive requirements is the 60-day notice...more

Ninth Circuit Rejects Use of Preemptive Litigation to Validate Federal Approvals

Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc., v. Center for Biological Diversity, (11/12/14, No. 13-35835) The Ninth Circuit has rejected a “novel litigation strategy” that Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc., employed in an effort to preempt a...more

Opponents of Arena Project Foul Out

On November 20, 2014, the Third District Court of Appeal (Court) handed a partial victory to the City of Sacramento (City), rejecting petitioners' appeal and thereby authorizing the continued construction of the Sacramento...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

Utah Federal Court Strikes Down as Unconstitutional a Regulation Under the Endangered Species Act Protecting Utah Prairie Dogs on...

The Utah Prairie Dog is a species that exists only in Utah, where it lives on both federal and private land. The species is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, and a federal regulation...more

District Court Strikes Down Regulation of Purely Intrastate Species on Private Land

In a significant Endangered Species Act case, the Utah District Court has ruled that Congress may not regulate take of the threatened Utah prairie dog, a purely intrastate species, on non-federal land. The court found that...more

Court Finds Endangered Species Act Cannot Regulate Species on Private Lands Within a Single State

In a win for property owners and project proponents, a Utah federal district court has ruled that the United States Constitution does not authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) to regulate impacts to the Utah...more

Utah Court Bucks the Trend: Holds Congress Lacks Power to Regulate Intrastate Species on Private Land

Contrary to every federal court of appeal decision that has addressed the issue, a federal court in Utah has held that the broad authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to regulate "take" of threatened...more

Utah Federal Judge: ESA Rule Is Unconstitutional

In a ruling that, if upheld and followed, would significantly limit the reach of federal environmental regulation, a Utah federal judge determined that regulation of a purely intrastate species listed as threatened under the...more

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

Court Holds Congress Lacks Power to Regulate Take of Intrastate Species that Has No Substantial Effect on Commerce

On November 4th, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah invalidated the special rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) regulating take of the threatened Utah prairie dog, a species that only...more

Fourth District Addresses CEQA Issues Concerning Standing, Mitigation, Baseline, Piecemealing, And Responses To Comments In...

In a published decision filed October 31, 2014 (Paulek v. California Department of Water Resources (4th Dist., Div. 2, 2014) ___ Cal.App.4th ____, Case No. E060038), the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the Riverside...more

City of Pittsburg, CA moves forward on controversial Donlon Blvd. Project

The Contra Costa Times reported last week that the City of Pittsburg certified the environmental document for the Donlon Boulevard extension after nearly two decades of trying. Although the vote was unanimous, the project...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

District of Arizona Rethinks NEPA’s Zone of Interests in Light of Recent Supreme Court Opinion on “Prudential” Standing

On September 30, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona (Campbell, D.J.) issued an order in Yount v. Salazar, Nos. 11-8171 et al., 2014 WL 4904423 (D. Ariz. Sept. 30, 2014). As part of this order,...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

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

Court Reluctantly Upholds Designation of Critial Habitat for Frog

Last week, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana upheld the designation of approximately 1,544 acres of privately-owned timber land located in Louisiana as critical habitat for the dusky...more

Real Estate and Land Use - August 2014

Chula Vista Citizens for Jobs and Fair Competition, et al. v. Donna Norris, et al. - Why it matters: With land use issues and development projects increasingly the subject of local ballot initiatives, it is imperative...more

Court of Appeal Clarifies Requirements for Public Input on Development Agreements

Due process rights to notice and a public hearing for those who may be affected do not apply to a public agency’s consideration of approval of a development agreement, an appellate court has ruled. In addition, the First...more

BP Oil Spill Litigation – Current Status of the Litigation

As many are aware, BP entered into a Settlement Agreement to compensate citizens of areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico for losses arising from the epic oil spill in 2010. There has been substantial litigation and appellate...more

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