Environmental Transportation Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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President Announces New Build America Initiatives; Introduces New Type of Municipal Bond

President Obama recently announced the latest steps federal agencies are taking to better incorporate private sector capital and expertise in improving the nation’s infrastructure. The announcement comes six months after the...more

White House Announces Plan to Regulate Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Sector

On January 14, the Obama administration announced plans to reduce methane emissions from new and modified oil and gas operations as part of the president’s strategy to address climate change. The plan does not, however,...more

Transportation Conformity Form Over Substance

A few determined environmental advocates have attempted for years to use the Clean Air Act’s strict transportation conformity rules to tie up planned highway improvements. For the most part, courts have rebuffed those...more

SANDAG Seeks Review of CEQA Decision Invalidating EIR for Its Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy

On January 6, 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review the decision in Cleveland National Forest Foundation, et al. v. San Diego Association at...more

San Diego MPO's Analysis Of RTP's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rejected

In a decision with implications for all transportation projects in California, the California Court of Appeal held that the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation projects in a metropolitan transportation...more

California Supreme Court Poised To Decide Key CEQA Questions: The Court’s Lineup For 2015

The California Supreme Court’s involvement in CEQA cases has been relatively limited since he statute’s enactment in 1970, with the court taking  review of at most one or two appellate court decisions a year.  The last two...more

The Federal Surface Transportation Board Finds California Environmental Quality Act Preempted as Applied to High-Speed Rail...

In a surprising decision, Surface Transportation Board Decision, Docket No. FD35861, December 12, 2014 (“Docket”), the Federal Surface Transportation Board (“Board”) ruled that the application of the California Environmental...more

“Making CEQA A Federal Case? Recent Actions of California’s Supreme Court and the Federal Surface Transportation Board Set Up A...

Controversy has dogged the California high speed rail project since before its inception with the 2008 passage of Proposition 1A, the bond measure providing the project’s initial funding. The controversy has not abated in the...more

Surface Transportation Board Rules That ICCTA Preempts CEQA Review of California’s High-Speed Train System

On December 12, 2014, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued a decision, in response to a petition filed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority), finding that the Interstate Commerce Commission...more

Real Estate and Land Use - December 2014

San Diego Regional Sustainable Strategies Plan Invalidated; SANDAG Has Requested Supreme Court Review - Cleveland National Forest Foundation et al. v. San Diego Association of Governments (November 24, 2014) Fourth...more

High Speed Rail Moves Forward Without CEQA Review

The Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) issued a declaratory order in a 2-1 vote last Friday, finding that the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) is categorically preempted by federal law, as it relates to the...more

California Environmental Law and Policy Update - December 2014

Environmental and Policy Focus: State court may tighten review process for building super-sized homes - SFGate.com - Dec 8: In a case that could redefine the scope of California’s environmental laws, the state Supreme...more

California Environmental Law and Policy Update - December 2014 #2

Environmental and Policy Focus - California drought-relief bill passes House: SFGate.com - Dec 9: On December 9, the House approved a bill designed to give state and federal agencies authority to move more water in...more

Fourth District’s Split Decision Further Complicates CEQA Requirements Surrounding GHG Impact Analysis and Mitigation Measures –...

Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments (11/24/14, D063288) - In a split decision on November 24, 2014, the Fourth District California Court of Appeal invalidated the program EIR...more

Must Calif. Dump Its Oil Spill Prevention Regime?

On Oct. 7, 2014, the Association of American Railroads and two of its member rail carriers filed suit against California's Office of Spill Prevention and Response in an effort to strike down the state's recent effort to...more

Bats, Water, Soil, and Bridges- an Engineer’s dream

Want to know how bats may effect your engineering plans? Want to hear about cool new bridges? Read on. Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of attending two events hosted by the North Carolina Chapter of the...more

Analysis Of GHGs Under CEQA Just Got More Complex: Fourth District’s Split Decision Invalidates Program EIR For SANDAG’s 2050...

In a 2-1 published opinion filed November 24, 2014, the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division 1, affirmed and modified the trial court’s judgment granting writ petitions by plaintiff groups challenging the EIR for the San...more

EIR For SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Plan Rejected By Court Of Appeal

In a long-awaited 2-1 decision, a court of appeal overturned the environmental impact report for the San Diego Association of Governments’ 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy. Cleveland...more

Panama Canal Expansion Update: October 2014 Milestones

The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and joins North and South America. It is one of the narrowest waterways in the world, yet thirteen to fourteen thousand ships brave the Panama Canal each year because...more

Federal Preemption May Be The Key For Calif. Railroads

Railroad operators across the U.S. are seeing a bright future due to the resurgence in freight rail traffic. Intermodal (i.e., cargo container) shipping is booming. In 2013, intermodal volume on the major railroads totaled...more

Arlington/Fairfax Streetcar Halted in Its Tracks

This latest move follows recent projections increasing the total cost of the project by tens of millions of dollars and, perhaps as a result, Arlington County election results expressing strong voter opposition to the...more

California Environmental Law and Policy Update - November 2014 #2

Environmental and Policy Focus - Heat, drought worsen smog in California, stalling decades of progress: Los Angeles Times - Nov 10: Heat and extreme drought have worsened smog in California over the last year, stalling...more

RE: Bakken Crude-by-Rail: Environmental Groups Ask New York State to Regulate DOT-111 Tank Cars

A recent state-law challenge by environmental groups to an aspect of crude-by-rail transportation has teed up the question of federal supremacy over railroad regulation. Because federal law generally preempts state regulation...more

Pierce Atwood Environmental Regulatory Compliance Calendar (RCC)

NEW REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS - Federal - - Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act, 33 C.F.R. Part 328 - - In connection with its proposed rule regarding the definition of...more

Bakken Crude-by-Rail Update: Transloading Projects Dealt a Setback in California

Recently, we covered environmental groups’ increasing array of state-law challenges to midstream and end users of Bakken crude that transport or receive oil by rail. Since then, a California regulator has admitted to...more

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