Zoning, Planning & Land Use Updates

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Increases Civil Penalties

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published an interim rule (pdf) revising its civil procedure regulations for the assessment of civil penalties for violations of various laws and regulations within the Service’s...more

D.C. Circuit Upholds FERC’s NEPA Analysis in Sabine Pass and Freeport LNG Projects

On June 28, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected two related challenges to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s environmental review of the Sabine Pass LNG and Freeport LNG...more

How to Avoid Getting Popped: Top 10 Texas Firework Laws

Sure, fireworks are fun, but it’s important to be cautious and careful. We covered firework laws in the 2008 and 2014, but a few things have changed. Below are Texas’ top 10 firework laws you need to be aware of before...more

OpenStreetMap Publishes Collective Database Guidelines (Examples Included)

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a map of the world based upon data contributed by volunteers from around the globe. It is operated by the OpenStreetMap Foundation on behalf of the volunteer community. OpenStreetMap and the data are...more

Hydro license transfers and fitness

U.S. hydropower regulators have approved the transfer of the license for an Idaho hydroelectric process, despite an argument that the transferee is not fit to operate the project. At issue is the Smith Creek Project, No....more

P3s and Tax-Exempt Bonds

In the past, states and local governments have relied in large part on low-cost tax-exempt financing to meet their infrastructure needs. While there is a growing consensus that our present infrastructure needs are great, many...more

Comments on New Rules for Bald and Golden Eagle Protection due July 5, 2016

On May 6 of this year, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a proposed rule revising the permitting program under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (the Act). Public comments on the rule are due...more

President Obama Signs PIPES Act of 2016, Reauthorizing PHMSA and Introducing New Mandates for Oil and Gas Pipeline Programs

On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed a bill reauthorizing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) oil and gas pipeline programs through 2019. Obama’s final stamp on the Protecting our...more

Whitestone hydrokinetic license surrendered

Despite efforts to offer a streamlined regulatory path for some demonstration hydropower projects, earlier this year the holder of a hydrokinetic pilot project license for a project proposed for the Tanana River in Alaska...more

Saving Private Partnerships: Court Upholds P3 Project against CEQA Challenge under Save Tara

A 2008 California Supreme Court decision, Save Tara v. City of West Hollywood, cast doubt on local governments’ ability to enter into agreements with private developers prior to completing project review under the California...more

State Water Board Issues New Proposed Permitting Procedures for Dredge and Fill to Waters of the State

On June 17, 2016, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) issued its much-anticipated draft “Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Materials to Waters of the State” (Draft Permitting Procedures). The...more

Coal Plant Shutdowns: Operators Need to Manage Community Relationships

Imagine this scenario: A company operates a coal ash landfill. Local citizens protest and organize an advocacy group against it and create a Facebook page. The company responds by suing the individual members of the group for...more

Federal Wildlife Agencies Release Draft Revisions to Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook

On June 28, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released draft revisions to their joint Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (Handbook).  The proposed revisions are...more

Edgartown's Muskeget tidal project faces questions

A municipal tidal power project proposed for the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard faces federal deadlines if its licensing process is to continue. The Muskeget Channel Tidal Energy Project, proposed by the Town of...more

Defeated North Carolina Class Action Ultimately Results in Victory for Landowners – NCDOT Loses Map Act Fight

What began several years ago as a defeated attempt at a class action against the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) ultimately resulted in a win this month for plaintiff landowners in Kirby v. NCDOT (No....more

Court Clarifies that Brown Act “Cease and Desist” Requirements Apply to Past Actions of a Legislative Body and Awards Costs to...

In 2012, the California legislature amended the remedies available to address violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act. The amendment added section 54960.2 to the Government Code to require that anyone seeking to challenge past...more

BOEM Call for Hawaii offshore wind interest

U.S. ocean energy managers have asked for information to evaluate industry interest in leasing sites offshore Hawaii for commercial offshore wind development. Under U.S. law, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)...more

Grand Jury finds Oakland City Council Member Broke Ethics Rules in Interfering With a Housing Development Next Door to Her Home

In a final report issued June 21, 2016, the Alameda County Grand Jury found that an Oakland City Council member used her position and office to advocate for private gain, and not the good of the City, in interfering with the...more

Qatar Market Update – June 2016

In our June market overview we are seeing that the low price of oil is continuing to affect the economy in Qatar, with cut-backs and redundancies evident. However, despite the slow-down it is forecast that US $22.2 billion...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - June 2016 #4

Environmental and Policy Focus - PG&E to close Diablo Canyon, California's last nuclear power plant - Los Angeles Times - Jun 21 - Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) announced on Tuesday that it plans to close...more

FERC says Nicatous microhydro doesn't need license

Federal energy regulators have ruled that a micro-hydroelectric project proposed by a remote Maine sporting camp does not require licensing under the Federal Power Act. The Nicatous case illustrates one expedited regulatory...more

Canada NEB starts Energy East pipeline review

Canada's National Energy Board has ruled that the applicationsare complete for the Energy East Pipeline Project and a related gas project. This determination starts the NEB's review process, under which the Board must issue...more

Wyoming Court Strikes Down BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule; Existing Appeal Remains Pending (For Now)

As we’ve previously reported, a Wyoming federal court issued a preliminary injunction order last year that temporarily halted the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands. ...more

Vested Rights Conferred Under Local Ordinance Trump Conditional Use Permit Requirement Later Imposed by Emergency Ordinance

On June 23, 2016, in Stewart Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Oakland, __ Cal.App.4th __ (2016) (Case No. A143417), the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District issued an important decision dealing with whether a new...more

SCOTUS Gives Landowners New Tools to Challenge Wetlands Permitting Decisions

The United States Supreme Court handed landowners and developers a win this month in a unanimous decision allowing appeals to federal courts of Army Corps of Engineers determinations that a body of water or wetland is subject...more

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