Litigation

The Clean Power Plan: Obama’s Easy Mandate

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States Complaining About the CPP Are On Pace to Hit Emissions Targets

Back around the turn of the 20th century, New York’s Republican machine was run by Senator Thomas Platt, whose ability to bridge factional gaps gave him the title of “The Easy Boss.” Even though President Obama has attempted the same thing, he will have no such luck. Witness, for example, the states — virtually all […]

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The Clean Water Act, Federalism, Big Money and the California Supreme Court

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Ill-considered Supreme Court Decision Threatens California’s Administration of Clean Water Act Permit Program

The California Supreme Court recently issued a little-noticed decision on a seemingly arcane state public finance issue that could well wind up having a dramatic, negative effect on California’s continued ability to administer the federal Clean Water Act’s permit program in the Golden State. The case is Department of Finance v. Commission on State Mandates.  In […]

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Upcoming Regulatory Takings Conference 2016

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Nation’s Top Annual Takings Event Set for November 4th in New Orleans

One of the most important issues in modern environmental law and policy is the extent to which constitutionally-protected property rights limit environmental regulatory programs at the federal, state and local levels.  Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has focused more attention on this question over the last four decades than any other aspect of modern environmental […]

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Whither the 2016-17 Court on Environmental Cases?

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Docket so far limited to a significant takings case, Murr v. Wisconsin

So far, the docket for the U.S. Supreme Court’s term beginning in October includes no significant statutory environmental case.  It does include an important takings case that could limit or expand the land use powers of all levels of  government to protect wetlands, endangered species habitat, and other ecologically sensitive parcels.  Whether the Court ultimately […]

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Major Settlement Announced in Volkswagen Emissions Fraud Litigation

$14.7 Billion Civil Enforcement Settlement is a Victory for Consumers, Environmental Prosecutors

Federal and state environmental prosecutors today announced a proposed settlement of government civil enforcement litigation they’ve pursued against Volkswagen in response to the automaker’s acknowledged efforts to cheat federal and state auto emission standards and defraud consumers.  The complex settlement, lodged with the assigned U.S. district court judge in San Francisco, requires Volkswagen to pay […]

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Statutory Standing After the Spokeo Decision

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A non-environmental case opens the door to new arguments about standing.

One of the recurring questions in standing law is the extent to which Congress can change the application of the standing doctrine. A recent Supreme Court opinion in a non-environmental case sheds some light – not a lot, but some – on this recurring question. The Court has made it clear that there is a […]

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The Road to Improved Compliance

Enforcement of environmental laws is spotty. But there are ways to change that.I

As I wrote earlier this week, environmental enforcement is not nearly as effective as it should be.  EPA and others have been working on finding creative ways of obtaining compliance, often with the help of new technology. One aspect of enforcement that has become clear is the need to focus on small, dispersed sources that may […]

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Strong Regs, Spotty Enforcement

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Environmental enforcement could use a big boost.

The political debate over regulation tends to focus on the regulations themselves. But enforcing the regulations is just as important. Despite what you might think from the howls of business groups and conservative commentators, the enforcement system is not nearly as strong as it should be. Twenty years after passage of the Clean Water Act, roughly […]

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Supreme Court Deals Obama Administration Blow in Clean Water Act Case

Coastal Wetlands at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, MA. Credit: Kelly Fike/USFWS.

Supreme Court allows lawsuits early in Clean Water Act permitting process, as Justice Kennedy ominously questions the Act’s reach

The Supreme Court today dealt another blow to the Obama administration in a Clean Water Act case. The Court’s unanimous opinion in United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., No. 15-290, addressed the finality of an Army Corps “approved jurisdictional determination” (JD) on whether a particular parcel of property contains “waters of the […]

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Appointing Guardians to Represent Future Generations

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Could an old property procedure be a model for climate-related litigation?

From time to time, there is talk about giving standing to future generations. Although this is an idea whose time may not have come in the U.S., it’s important to know that the law has for many, many years allowed appointment of lawyers to represent future individuals. Typically, this is a procedure that is used in […]

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