administrative law

Climate Litigation 2020

Here’s the state of play and some thoughts about the future.

Trump Administration has been a fertile source of litigation. With the election only about three months away, this seems like a good time to see how things stand in climate-related case.  In a nutshell, climate litigation has been a growth industry under Trump, and the Administration has done poorly in court. The Current State of …

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Wasting Away in Methaneville

Another Trump rollback gets slapped down in court.

A week ago, a federal district court overturned yet another ill-conceived rollback by the Trump Administration. The case, California v. Bernhardt, involved releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The legal flaws in the rollback by the Bureau of Land Management, are all too typical of the Administration’s work product. The Administration has repeatedly lost …

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Happy Birthday, Chevron Doctrine!

The Chevron doctrine has been a keystone of administrative law. But now it’s under siege.

Thirty-six years ago today, the Supreme Court decided the Chevron case.  The case gives leeway to agencies when their governing statutes are unclear or have gaps. It’s probably the most frequently cited Supreme Court opinion ever. But now the Chevron doctrine is under fire from conservatives, who used to be its strongest advocates. Here’s how …

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Lessons from the DACA Ruling

The Court’s ruling could have important implications for environmental cases.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Department of Homeland Security v. UC Regents was great news for 700,000 “Dreamers” who would otherwise face deportation. It also has important  implications for administrative law — and for environmental law cases in particular.  Here are three main takeaways. Requiring Reasoned Explanation.  Chief Justice John Roberts reinforced the principle that …

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DC Circuit Restricts “Housekeeping” Regulations

The Trump Administration likes to justify policy initiatives based on vague grants of authority. That’s just become harder.

Earlier today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decided two cases that add to the legal difficulties the Trump EPA will face in court.  The difficulties relate to two proposed EPA rules that attempt to hamstring  future efforts to impose tighter restrictions on pollution. Both EPA rules rely on vague, general grants of rule-making authority …

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The Conservative Assault on Presidential Administration

Are they afraid of “faceless bureaucrats”? Or Democratic Presidents?

Conservatives are on a campaign to reduce agency discretion. They don’t seem to realize that in today’s world, that really amounts to an attack on presidential power.  These days, it’s generally not bureaucrats or even cabinet officers who make the real decisions about regulation. It’s the White House.  So the campaign against the administrative state …

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EPA v. the Inspector General

Surprise, surprise, EPA has tried to stonewall an investigation.

EPA’s Acting Inspector General Charles J. Sheehan took the extraordinary step last week of notifying Congress that EPA was stonewalling his investigation of potential misconduct involving EPA’s Chief of Staff.  This was a gutsy move for Sheehan, especially given the extra vulnerability created by his Acting status. Sheehan, it is worth noting, is a career …

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A Welcome Victory in the D.C. Circuit

This is what it looks like when judges just buckle down and do their jobs.

Last Friday, the D.C. Circuit decided Wisconsin v. EPA. The federal appeals court rejected industry attacks on a regulation dealing with interstate air pollution but accepted an argument by environmental groups that the regulation was too weak.  Last week also featured depressing examples of the drumbeat of Trump Administration rollbacks, so it was especially nice …

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Sidestepping Regulatory Ossification

The regulatory process can take forever. Here are some possible responses.

Some years ago, Tom McGarity coined the phrase “regulatory ossification” to describe the increasingly slow and cumbersome regulatory system.  Since then, the situation has only gotten worse.  As a recent article by Bethany Davis Noll and Richard Revesz points out, significant regulations take an average of four years to issue, and judicial review adds another …

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Principles of Climate Governance

We need to address the procedures and structures for climate policymaking.

There’s a lot of discussion about the substance of climate policy today.  That’s obviously critical, but we also need to think about the procedural and institutional issues involved in making climate policy.  For instance, we need to think about how to divide authority between the states and the federal government.  I thought it would be …

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