News & Analysis as of

Infrastructure Gets Top Billing from President-Elect Trump

President-Elect Trump’s election night statement specifically called out infrastructure, above all other domestic policy concerns, as a focus of his new Administration. Despite some initial rumblings from the conservative...more

Environmental Case Law Update

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” Many important environmental and administrative law decisions were reported by the federal and state courts over the past six months. The courts are dealing with very...more

BLM Must Take a “Hard Look” at Fracking Impacts

On September 6, 2016, a federal Judge issued an Order finding that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) failed to take a “hard look,” as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), at the potential...more

Court Rejects NEPA, Section 4(f) Challenges to Arizona South Mountain Freeway Project

In a decision of national importance to the transportation community, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona rejected National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) challenges and Section 4(f) challenges to the 22-mile...more

CEQ Instructs Federal Agencies to Consider Climate Change Impacts During NEPA Reviews

On August 2, 2016, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National...more

US FWS Announces Record of Decision Streamlining Wind Energy Permitting for the Upper Great Plains

On July 7, 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced its Record of Decision (ROD) for the Upper Great Plains Wind Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). This is the final step in a process...more

Changed Dam Operations Not Subject to an Environmental Impact Statement Under NEPA

On June 21, 2016, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of a decision of the Bonneville Power Administration to proceed with a change in the operation of the Albeni Falls Dam during the winter...more

US FWS Releases Draft Midwest Wind Energy Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan

On April 15, 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued its Draft Midwest Wind Energy Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) proposing a regional approach to...more

Ninth Circuit Holds National Indian Gaming Commission Not Required to Conduct NEPA Review Before Approving Casino Gaming Ordinance

In Jamul Action Committee v. Chaudhuri, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the National Indian Gaming Commission (Commission) did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when...more

If You Don’t Like Nukes, Petition Congress: The D.C. Circuit Affirms the NRC’s GEIR On Nuclear Waste Storage

On Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected challenges by several states and the NRDC to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Generic Environmental Impact Statement analyzing the impacts of continued on-site storage...more

FERC staff recommends against Bear River dam

Staff of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have recommended against licensing a dam, reservoir, and hydropower project proposed for the Bear River near Preston, Idaho. The case involves a 2013 application by...more

BLM Fights Back Against Activists’ Criticisms of CA Resource Management Plan

The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) recently filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental activists who have challenged the BLM’s Resource Management Plan (“RMP”) for public lands...more

Timing Is (Almost) Everything: FERC Implements D.C. Circuit Guidance on NEPA Review of Multiple Pipeline Construction Projects

In the wake of two recent D.C. Circuit decisions, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has begun to implement its new policy concerning the review of natural gas pipeline construction proposals under the National...more

Horse Of A Different Color: CEQA Does Not Require EIR Due To Psychological And Social Impacts From Closure Of Beloved Equestrian...

In a March 4, 2016 published opinion, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment requiring an EIR for a small 12-home rural subdivision project based on the “psychological and social” impacts of...more

Moratorium on Federal Coal Leasing Issued by Secretary Jewell

On January 15, 2016, Interior Secretary Jewell halted federal coal leasing on public lands. Western coal companies are attempting to sort out the implications of the moratorium and exemptions set out in Secretarial Order...more

FAST Act Expedites Permitting and Environmental Review for Large Infrastructure Projects

Expedited permitting and environmental review for complex infrastructure projects may soon be a reality. Buried at the end of its most recent transportation reauthorization package (the “FAST Act” or “Act”) is a significant...more

Risky “Business as Usual”: The California Supreme Court Upholds the BAU Approach to CEQA Climate Impact Analysis, but Sets a High...

In Center for Biological Diversity v. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife,1 the California Supreme Court upheld the “Business as Usual” (BAU) approach for analyzing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the California Environmental...more

Second District Rejects CEQA And Fair Transit Hearing Challenges To LA Metro’s Westside Subway Extension Project In Lengthy...

In a 65-page opinion certified for publication and filed October 22, 2015, the Second Appellate District Court of Appeal affirmed the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s judgment denying writ petitions by the City of Beverly...more

Are Regulatory Delays Exacerbating Drought Conditions?

As we enter the fall season, substantial portions of California and the Pacific Northwest are experiencing extreme to exceptional drought conditions. While conditions are better in Texas and other nearby states this year,...more

Federal Energy Legislative Update

There has been recent action in Congress on issues important to the oil and gas industry. This post provides an overview of the major energy-related bills in Congress. H.R. 538, the Native American Energy Act – On...more

Eagles Back in the Nest: FWS 30-Year Eagle “Take” Rule Vacated Less than Two Years after Implementation

On August 11, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California struck down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the “Service”) regulation that increased the maximum duration of programmatic permits...more

No Short Cuts Allowed: The FWS Must Comply with NEPA Before Extending Programmatic Take Permits to 30 Years

Earlier this month, the Judge Lucy Koh set aside the Fish & Wildlife Service’s decision to extend its programmatic permit for bald and golden eagle takes from five to 30 years. The extension was sought by the wind industry...more

Court Rejects 30 Year Eagle Permit Rule on NEPA Grounds

On August 11, 2015, the US District Court for the Northern District of California remanded a US Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS) 2013 final rule that had extended the maximum duration of eagle take programmatic permits under...more

Federal District Court Strikes Down Eagle Act Rule

On August 11, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California struck down the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s so-called “30-Year Rule,” which had extended from 5 years to 30 years the duration of...more

Avoiding NEPA – Even for “Worthy Goals” – Is Never Advisable

From the very first day of my legal career, clients have asked me some variation of this question: “Why can’t we just prepare a shorter Environmental Assessment (EA) or even issue a Categorical Exclusion (no analysis at all)...more

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