administrative law

Will the NEPA Amendments Speed Up Permitting?

Probably not much. If at all.

I’ve blogged quite a bit about the challenges of interpreting the NEPA amendments, which snuck through as part of last year’s debt ceiling bill.  I haven’t said much about their impact.  Given the amount of energy infrastructure we need to build in the near future, a streamlined permitting process would be great. Alas, I don’t …

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Chevron Gets the Headlines, But State Farm May Be More Important

The abortion pill case could undermine the authority of agency’s expert judgments.

The Chevron doctrine requires judges to defer to an agency’s interpretation of a statute if that interpretation is reasonable. The State Farm case, which is much less widely known, requires courts to defer to an agency’s expert judgment unless its reasoning has ignored contrary evidence or has a logical hole. As you probably already know, …

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The New EPA Car Rule Doesn’t Violate the Major Questions Doctrine

They both relate to climate, but West Virginia v. EPA involved a very different regulation raising very different issues.

In West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court struck down the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.  The heart of the ruling was that EPA had engaged in a power grab, basing an unprecedented expansion of its regulatory authority on an obscure provision of the statute.  Conservative groups have claimed since then that virtually every government regulation …

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Power Play: The Effects of Overruling Chevron

Who will win and who will lose if Chevron is overruled?

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether to overrule the Chevron doctrine.  That doctrine allows administrative agencies that implement statutes to resolve ambiguities in those statutes. Overruling the doctrine would shift that power to courts.  Institutionally, then, judges would be the big winners, with more sway over how laws are implemented. …

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More Thrills and Chills Ahead!  What to Expect in 2024

Here are the key events that will shape climate and energy policy.

We will face some important forks in the road in 2024 in terms of environmental law.  Here are some of the upcoming forks. Who will be President in 2025?  You probably don’t need reminding that 2024 is an election year. At this point, the election seems likely to be a replay of Biden versus Trump. …

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Reviewing Agency Indecision

The Third Circuit straightens out a quirk in FERC law, to the benefit of renewable energy.

A case decided by the Third Circuit on Dec. 1 is important for two reasons. It clarifies a puzzling procedural rule applying to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). And it upholds an important policy shift regarding renewable energy by the country’s largest grid operator.  Since you’re probably more interested in the second point than …

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Have We Begun the Third Age of Climate Law?

Some thoughts for Environmental History Week.

An international agreement in 1992 committed the world’s nations to addressing climate change but contained few specifics. The US ratified that agreement, but there was little concrete action here through the end of the 20th Century. As this century began, things looked optimistic, with both presidential candidates favoring reductions in carbon emissions.  Promptly after taking …

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Reading the Tea Leaves: Biden’s and California’s Vehicle Regs at the D.C. Circuit

A leading environmental lawyer gives his perspective.

Transportation is now the source of 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, more than the electric power sector. The transportation sector is also a substantial source of nitrogen oxides and particulates, both of which are dangerous to human health.  The Biden Administration has taken important regulatory actions bearing on these problems, with others in the …

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State Government Standing and Environmental Law

The Supreme Court seems to be cooling to the idea of empowering state AGs.

Massachusetts v. EPA, the cornerstone climate case, contains an extensive discussion of standing which opens by saying that lawsuits by state governments are entitled to “special solicitude.”  In the last few weeks of its term, the Supreme Court opined repeatedly on state standing. “Special solicitude” seems to be on the wane. Overall, I that might …

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Donald Trump vs. The MQD

Ironically, a conservative legal doctrine might block some of his excesses.

Trump hasn’t been at all secretive about plans for a possible second term. He has plans, big plans. So big, in fact, that they may collide with a conservative judicial rule called the Major Question Doctrine (MQD). Since the Court has mostly used the MQD to block initiatives by Democratic presidents, it would be more …

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