Articles Posted in Environmental Law

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Conservation petitioners challenged the portion of the EPA's Final Rule, which implemented Congress's effort to restore air quality and visibility in certain national parks and wilderness areas (Class I areas), allowing states to treat Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) compliance as a better-than-BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology) alternative. State and Industry petitioners challenged EPA's disapproval of State Implementation Plans (SIPs) relying on the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) as a better-than-BART alternative. The DC Circuit held that conservation petitioners' first main challenge was moot; the attack on EPA's use of presumptive BART was jurisdictionally foreclosed; EPA's rule requires aggregate average improvement, and its comparison of the CSAPR-region Class I areas as well as all Class I areas nationwide was reasonable; and the remaining claims failed. Because the court found no merit in the conservation petitioners' arguments and could afford no relief to the state and industry petitioners, the court denied the petitions. View "Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Sierra Club challenged EPA's reconsideration of rules under the Clean Air Act that govern emissions to toxic pollutants from industrial boilers. The DC Circuit held that EPA did not adequately justify its change of direction on the carbon monoxide limits because it failed to explain how the revised limits would minimize the targeted pollutants to the extent the Act required. The court held, however, that EPA's startup and shutdown work practice standards were permissible because, consistent with the Act, they reasonably approximated what the best performing boilers could achieve. View "Sierra Club v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's final rule that defined when certain hazardous materials were deemed discarded—as opposed to legitimately recycled—and therefore subject to EPA's oversight. In 2017, the DC Circuit upheld some aspects of the rule and vacated others, inviting the parties to consider briefing some of the issues. After reviewing the petitions, the court modified it's 2017 decision in three ways: (1) the court severed and affirmed EPA's removal of the spent catalyst bar from the vacated portions of the "Verified Recyler Exclusion"; (2) the court vacated Factor 4 in its entirety; and (3) the court clarified the regulatory regime that replaced the vacated Factor 4. The court denied the petitions for rehearing in all other respects. View "American Petroleum Institute v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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These consolidated petitions challenged the EPA's final rule entitled "Implementation of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan Review Requirements." The DC Circuit granted Environmental Petitioners' petition and vacated as to waiver of the statutory attainment deadlines associated with the 1997 NAAQS; removal of New Source Review and conformity controls from orphan nonattainment areas; grant of permission to states to move anti-backsliding requirements for orphan nonattainment areas to their list of contingency measures based on initial 2008 designations; waiver of the requirement that states adopt outstanding applicable requirements for the revoked 1997 NAAQS; waiver of the 42 U.S.C. 7505a(a) maintenance plan requirement for orphan nonattainment areas; creation of the "redesignation substitute"; creation of an alternative baseline year option; elimination of transportation conformity in orphan maintenance areas; and waiver of the requirement for a second 10-year maintenance plan for orphan maintenance areas. The court denied Environmental Petitioners' petition in all other respects. View "South Coast Air Quality Management District v. EPA" on Justia Law

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The Councils petitioned for review of the Commission's decision to issue a license to Strata to mine uranium in Crook County, Wyoming. The DC Circuit denied the petition and rejected the Councils' claims that the Board was at fault for refusing to migrate Contention No. 4/5A and to admit Contention No. 6, and the Councils' challenge to the final environmental impact statement. The court held that, although the procedure followed by the Commission in this matter was not ideal, the Commission did not violate the National Environmental Procedure Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., nor the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A). Furthermore, the Councils have not identified any substantive flaws in the Commission's decisions. View "Natural Resources Defense Council v. NRC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged Maryland's proposed "Purple Line" light rail project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 49 U.S.C. 5309. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's order directing the preparation of a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and vacated the Record of Decision, holding that the circumstances warranted deference by the court to FTA's (and Maryland's) reasonable, fact-intensive, technical determination that preparation of a SEIS was not required. The court affirmed the district court's order rejecting three challenges to the final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) presented on appeal, holding that the NEPA process adopted by FTA and Maryland for the Purple Line — an enormously complex project involving coordination between multiple government and private actors — fulfilled NEPA's purposes. View "Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail v. FTA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the Park Service's decision authorizing recreational hunting of elk in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. In regards to plaintiffs' claim under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321, the DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Park Service. The court held that all the environmental effects seen during the years after the promulgation of the 2007 Plan and environmental impact study (EIS) had been anticipated and analyzed in the original environmental assessment, and thus the Park Service had no duty to prepare a supplemental or new EIS; plaintiffs failed to show that the Park Service acted arbitrarily or capriciously; and the Park Service has implemented the elk-reduction program in the manner envisioned by the 2007 Plan and analyzed in the 2007 EIS. Finally, the court vacated the district court's judgment in regard to the claim under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 50 C.F.R. pt. 17, based on mootness grounds because the grizzly bear was no longer listed as a threatened species under the ESA. View "Mayo v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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The DC Circuit dismissed the petition for review of the EPA's modification, without notice and comment, of prior understandings of how to measure a proposed transportation project’s impact on ambient levels of PM2.5 and PM10. PM2.5 is particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter and PM10 is particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter. In regard to PM2.5, the court held that it lacked standing because petitioners have shown no instance where the change would be likely to have any adverse effect on them or their members. In regard to PM10, the court held that the EPA's new provisions were not binding on the agency or affected parties and therefore did not constitute a final action within the meaning of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7607(b)(1). View "Sierra Club v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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Sierra Club challenged the Department's grant of an application to export liquified natural gas (LNG) using terminals and liquefaction facilities (Freeport Terminal) on Quintana Island. On the merits, the DC Circuit held that the Department did not fail to fulfill its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by declining to make specific projections about environmental impacts stemming from specific levels of export-induced gas production; the Department did not fail to fulfill its obligations with respect to the potential for the U.S. electric power sector to switch from gas to coal in response to higher gas prices; the court rejected Sierra Club's challenges to the Department's examination of the potential greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from the indirect effects of exports; and Sierra Club has given the court no reason to question the Department's judgment that the FLEX application was not inconsistent with the public interest. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Sierra Club v. DOE" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged whether EPA had statutory authority to issue a 2015 Rule regulating the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). As statutory authority for the 2015 Rule, EPA relied on Section 612 of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7671k, which requires manufacturers to replace ozone-depleting substances with safe substitutes. The DC Circuit held that the fundamental problem for EPA was that HFCs were not ozone-depleting substances. Because EPA's novel reading of Section 612 was inconsistent with the statute as written, the court vacated the 2015 Rule to the extent it required manufacturers to replace HFCs and remanded for further proceedings. View "Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law