Environmental Zoning, Planning & Land Use Elections & Politics

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News & Analysis as of

Infrastructure Battles Heat Up During the Summer of ‘15

News came this week that the Obama Administration is threatening a veto if Congress reverts to form and proposes only a temporary extension of the Highway Trust Fund instead of tackling a long-term transportation funding...more

Four Books That Should Be On Every City Official’s Summer Reading List

Cities and their metro regions are getting increased attention as sources of innovation and local collaborative leadership to address national problems ranging from the infrastructure gap to physical and social mobility and...more

In Suing Commonwealth of PA, Clean Air Council Takes A Stand For Up-To-Date Building Codes

There is a war on building codes across the United States, and Pennsylvania is ground zero. After years of regular building code updates, a law was passed in 2011 (Act 1) at the urging of the Pennsylvania Builders...more

Texas Town Repeals Voter-Approved Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing

Just seven months after voters in Denton, Texas, approved a measure banning hydraulic fracturing within city limits, the Denton City Council voted 6 to 1 to repeal the ban. Council members called the move a “strategic repeal”...more

Governor Selects David Bunn to Lead Department of Conservation

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown appointed David Bunn, a former fish and game official and U.C. Davis academic, to lead the California Department of Conservation. The appointment comes after the departure of Director Mark...more

EPA and the Army Corps Issue Final Clean Water Rule, but Does This New “Line in the Water” Clarify, Expand or Narrow Clean Water...

On May 27, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) jointly released a final rule (the “Clean Water Rule”) redefining the scope of their shared jurisdiction under...more

Summary of H.40: An Act Relating to Establishing a Renewable Energy Standard

On June 11, 2015, Governor Shumlin signed into law H. 40, An Act Relating to Establishing a Renewable Energy Standard (the “RES”). This significant renewable energy law establishes a mandatory renewable energy standard for...more

Governor Brown Nominates Two for Fish and Game Commission

Governor Brown has announced the nomination of Eric Sklar and Anthony Williams to serve on the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission). The five-member Commission is established under article IV, section 20 of the...more

Maryland's Pilot Program for Community Solar Approved

Maryland has taken a critical step forward to encourage solar energy in the state. On May 12, 2015, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan approved a law creating a pilot program for community solar projects, joining 10 other states...more

Chairmen of U.S. Congressional Environmental Committees Criticize EPA’s Failure to Consult Regarding the Potential Impacts of...

On June 15, 2015, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, sent a...more

Texas Becomes First State to Ban Fracking Bans

On May 18, 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 40 into law, putting restrictions on the ability of municipalities to regulate the oil and gas industry in their jurisdictions. Because the bill passed both the...more

Special Session: Signed, Sealed and Delivered

The illusive Special Session lived up to its hype. Despite the close proximity of the two temporary chambers in the State Office Building, the bodies were far apart in their desired outcome for the session. After...more

Gov. Dayton Signs 2015 Jobs and Energy Bill into Law

On Saturday, June 13, Governor Dayton signed the 2015 Jobs and Energy Bill into Law. The following amendments were made after the Governor’s veto: - New definitions for “propane,” “propane storage facility,” and...more

Status of Oil and Gas-related Bills Proposed in California’s 2015-2016 Legislative Session

June 5, 2015 marked the deadline for lawmakers to pass bills out of their house to the opposite house. Bills that did not pass in their house of origin by that date have effectively died (unless such bill has been identified...more

Obama Administration Issues Final Rule on “Waters of the United States” - The Rule Will Expand The Universe Of "Waters" Subject To...

On May 27, 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (collectively, the “agencies”) issued a final rule revising the regulatory definition of “Waters of the United...more

Update on California Water Legislation Regarding Groundwater, Recycled Water and More

June 5, 2015 marked the deadline for lawmakers to pass bills out of their house to the opposite house. Bills that did not pass in their house of origin by that date have effectively died (unless such a bill has been...more

Lawsuit Filed Over State Water Board’s Temporary Modification of Water Quality Objectives

Consistent with Governor Brown’s Drought Proclamation and Executive Orders, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) sought and obtained a temporary modification of certain...more

States Show Their True Colors on Fracking – One Enacts a Ban, While Two Others Prohibit All Local Bans

Three states have recently taken a stand for or against controversial bans on hydraulic fracturing. Oklahoma, Texas, and Maryland have all passed laws within the past month relating to hydraulic fracturing bans....more

Proposed TSCA Legislation Ramps Up Safety Requirements for Manufacturers, EPA

While consumers typically believe that anything they can buy in the store has been government tested for safety, that's not always the case. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been in effect and essentially unchanged...more

Clean Water Act: New Rule Significantly Expands Reach of Federal Jurisdiction

On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) finalized the long-anticipated Clean Water Rule. The Rule defines the term “waters of the United States” as used by...more

EPA/Corps Adopt “Waters of the U.S.” Rule: What’s Next?

Wednesday, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released a prepublication version of the final rule defining “waters of the United States,” the jurisdictional trigger under the Clean Water Act. The term needs defining because...more

Oklahoma Follows Texas’ Lead in Prohibiting Local Hydraulic Fracturing Bans

In the wake of Texas’ recent “ban on banning hydraulic fracturing,” Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a similar law—SB 809—prohibiting municipal governments from regulating oil and gas drilling at the local level. The bill now...more

Looks Like Frack is Back, Governor Abbott Signs House Bill 40

Yesterday, Governor Gregg Abbott signed into law House Bill 40, also known as the Denton Fracking Bill, which leaves municipalities with minimal power to regulate the oil and gas industry. The bill takes effect immediately...more

New Law in Texas Prohibits Local Municipalities from Banning Hydraulic Fracturing

On Monday, May 18, 2015, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott signed House Bill 40 into law, prohibiting cities, towns, and local municipalities in Texas from enacting bans on fracing. The new law provides that “oil and gas operations...more

Pollinator Health Task Force Issues National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

On May 19 2015, President Obama’s interagency Pollinator Health Task Force -- co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- issued its long awaited and...more

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