Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The DC Circuit granted ANR's petition for review challenging FERC's decision refusing to allow ANR to charge market-based rates, as opposed to cost-based rates, for its natural gas storage services. The court held that FERC acted arbitrarily and capriciously because it did not provide any reasonable justification for allowing DTE affiliates but not ANR to charge market-based rates. Furthermore, FERC's market-power analysis was internally inconsistent. The court also held that ANR's remaining contentions lacked merit. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "ANR Storage Co. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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AFDI filed suit against WMATA and its then-general manager, alleging that WMATA's refusal to display its advertisements violated its rights to free speech and equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The district court granted summary judgment to WMATA. Determining that the case was justiciable, the DC Circuit held that WMATA's advertising space was a nonpublic forum and that its restrictions were viewpoint-neutral. In this case, the court rejected AFDI's as-applied challenge, AFDI's claim that the ban on issue-oriented advertising was facially unconstitutional; and AFDI's claim that Guideline 12 was an unconstitutional prohibition of religious and antireligious views. The court remanded to the district court to determine whether the restrictions were reasonable in light of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, 138 S. Ct. 1876 (2018). Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether the EPA had authority under Sections 307(d)(7)(B) and 112(r)(7) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to delay the effective date of the Chemical Disaster Rule of January 13, 2017, for twenty months for the purpose of reconsideration, and, if so, whether it properly exercised that authority. The DC Circuit held that, where EPA has exercised its Section 7607(d)(7)(B) authority to delay the effectiveness of a final rule, it cannot avoid that statute's express limitations by invoking general rulemaking authority under a different statutory provision. The court also held that, in any event, EPA's promulgation of the Delay Rule was arbitrary and capricious where EPA's explanations for its changed position on the appropriate effective and compliance dates were inadequate. Therefore, the court granted the petitions for review and vacated the Delay Rule. View "Air Alliance Houston v. EPA" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to uphold HHS's redaction of certain types of information in response to PETA's request for information about the importation of nonhuman primates under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The court noted that it would have little difficulty concluding that the market for importing nonhuman primates was competitive even without PETA's waiver. The court held that releasing shipment-by-shipment quantity, crate size, and airline carrier information would cause substantial harm to the competitive position of each importer. Therefore, such information was confidential and protected from disclosure by FOIA Exemption 4. Finally, the court held that the district court did not err by granting HHS's Rule 60(b)(6) motion for reconsideration of the judgment regarding three importers, which the district court had mistakenly assumed their silence was intentional. View "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. HHS" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied Interjet's petitions for review of the Department's orders implementing a decision to not allow the airlines to give any takeoff and landing slots at Mexico City's Benito Juárez International Airport, because Interjet already had more than 300 slots at that airport. The court denied Interjet's claim that the Department's orders were arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law. Rather, the court held that the Department's decision was reasonable and consistent with its statutory mandate. In this case, the Department's orders were neither contrary to the Federal Aviation Act nor arbitrary and capricious. View "ABC Aerolineas, S.A. de C.V. v. DOT" on Justia Law

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AICPA challenged the IRS's Annual Filing Season Program as violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). On remand, the district court granted the IRS's motion for judgment on the pleadings based on AICPA's lack of standing. The DC Circuit reversed and held that AICPA has constitutional and statutory standing to challenge the validity of the Program because its members employ unenrolled preparers. On the merits, the court held that the Program did not violate the APA in any of the ways AICPA alleged. In this case, 31 U.S.C. 330(a) authorizes the IRS to establish and operate the Program, and 26 U.S.C. 7803(a)(2)(A) authorizes the agency to publish the results of the Program; the IRS did not violate the APA by failing to follow notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures in promulgating it; and the Program was not arbitrary and capricious. View "American Institute of Certified Accountants v. IRS" on Justia Law

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Hospitals challenged the methodology that the Department used to calculate the "outlier payment" component of their Medicare reimbursements for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. At issue was whether the Department's decision to continue with its methodology after the 2007 fiscal year was arbitrary in light of accumulating data about the methodology's generally sub-par performance. The DC Circuit held in Banner Health v. Price, 867 F.3d 1323 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (per curiam), that the Department's decision to wait a bit longer before reevaluating its complex predictive model was reasonable, because the Department had, at best, only limited additional data for 2008 and 2009 and because the 2009 data suggested that hospitals were paid more than expected. In this appeal, the court held that Banner Health foreclosed the hospitals' challenges to the Department's failure to publish a proposed draft rule during the 2003 rulemaking process and the Department's failure to account for the possibility of reconciliation claw-backs in setting the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 thresholds. Finally, the court held that, while the hospitals' frustration with the Department's frequently off-target calculations was understandable, the methodology had not sunk to the level of arbitrary or capricious agency action. View "Billings Clinic v. Azar" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with OPR and other agencies, seeking to learn the results of investigations into the prosecutor in plaintiff's case. OPR categorically refused to acknowledge the existence of, let alone disclose, any potentially relevant documents outside of plaintiff's individual case. With respect to the prosecutor's conduct in plaintiff's case, OPR held back substantial amounts of material, asserting a sweeping breadth for its claimed exemptions. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's judgment for OPR with respect to its invocations of Exemption 7(C) and the district court's decision to deny a fee waiver to plaintiff, holding that circuit precedent foreclosed OPR's approach and OPR failed to justify multiple withholdings. The court also remanded with instructions for the district court to reconsider its decision with respect to the FBI's withholding of records under Exemption 3 in light of recent circuit precedent. The court affirmed in all other matters. View "Bartko v. DOJ" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged FERC's approval of an application from Algonquin to undertake an upgrade to its natural gas pipeline system. The DC Circuit dismissed the Delegation's petition for review for lack of jurisdiction because the Delegation failed to establish that it had standing to seek review of the Commission's decision where its individual members did not suffer an injury in fact from the pipeline project. The court held that the remaining petitioners adequately demonstrated standing and thus reached the merits of their petitions. On the merits, the court held that the Commission did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in declining to consider Algonquin's three projects in a single environmental impact statement. The court explained that, for purposes of the AIM Project, the Commission adequately considered the cumulative impacts of the other two projects based on the information then available to the agency. The court also held that the Commission gave adequate consideration to the cumulative environmental impacts of the three upgrade projects. View "City of Boston Delegation v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged FERC's failure to account for the effect on electricity prices of the permanent retirement of the Brayton Point Power Station, a coal-fired electric plant in Somerset, Massachusetts. Petitioners alleged that the closure was an attempt to manipulate the results of forward capacity auction (FCA 8). The DC Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the petition in the absence of final agency action. In two later proceedings, petitioners asked FERC to correct for what they assert were effects of Brayton Point’s illegal closure on the next two annual forward capacity auctions (FCA 9 and FCA 10). FERC denied the petitions and approved FCA 9 and FCA 10 results. The court held that petitioners lacked standing to challenge FERC's acceptance of the FCA 9 and FCA 10 results because no record evidence established a causal link between the claimed manipulative closure of Brayton Point and the clearing prices of FCA 9 and FCA 10 that FERC approved. View "Utility Workers Union of America Local 464 v. FERC" on Justia Law