Litigation

Bright Spots of 2019 (Yes, there were some!)

A bad year in many ways, but with promising signs for the future.

It’s been a tumultuous and often grim year in terms of environmental protection. The Trump Administration continued its onslaught against environmental protection, completing major regulatory rollbacks. Nevertheless, there were some rays of sun through the darkening clouds. State Initiatives.  Progress as the state level continued, as it has throughout the Trump Administration.  New York State …

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Environmental Strategies for the Post-Kennedy Era

How do we make environmental progress despite an increasingly unsympathetic court?

Ann Carlson wrote an excellent post about how Kennedy’s departure might impact some key environmental issues. His retirement means that the Supreme Court will move even further to the right and stay there at least until one of the conservatives departs (maybe Thomas, the oldest). The new pick is likely to be another Gorsuch, which …

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Public Lands Watch: Resilient Federal Forests Act

Bill to reduce environmental protections for timber management on federal lands passes House

The Resilient Federal Forests Act (RFFA), H.R. 2936—which would curb environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for a variety of forest management activities on National Forest and BLM lands—passed the House November 1. (We previously wrote about a version of this bill in committee here.) NEPA requires agencies to consider whether proposed …

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Should the Court Stay the Clean Power Plan?

Opponents need to prove four things to get a stay. They may be unable to prove any of those.

Opponents of EPA’s landmark climate rule, the Clean Power Plan (a/k/a 111(d) regulation), are seeking to stay the effectiveness of the rule.  A stay is a variety of preliminary injunction, and the Supreme Court laid down four requirements for such orders in Winter v. NRDC: “A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish [1] that he is …

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And a Child Shall Sue Them: Ambitious New Climate Lawsuit Filed Against Obama Administration

Will This Litigation Be More Successful Than Earlier, Related “Atmospheric Trust” Lawsuits?

Late last week, attorneys representing children from around the nation filed a provocative new lawsuit in federal court, arguing that the Obama Administration is violating the children’s constitutional rights by not taking far more dramatic steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change concerns. The newly-filed complaint in the lawsuit, Juliana ex rel. …

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Why legal challenges to the EPA Clean Power Plan will end up at the Supreme Court

Cross-posted from The Conversation. Even before President Obama announced the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan on August 3 to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, there were a number of legal challenges to block the law at its proposal stage – none of them successful. Earlier this year, the DC Circuit Court told …

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Clean Air versus States Rights

A sleeper decision by the D.C. Circuit upholds federal air pollution authority.

The D.C. Circuit’s decision last week in Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality v. EPA didn’t get a lot of attention, despite having a very significant constitutional ruling.  Since the constitutional discussion doesn’t start until about page seventy, after many pages of scintillating discussion of matters like the reliability of private air pollution monitors and the …

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The Roberts Court’s Corporate Romance

Forty years ago, before going on the Supreme Court, Lewis Powell wrote a call to arms for business interests, calling on them to counter “enemies of the free enterprise system” like Ralph Nader.  Among other things, he recommended a concerted campaign to influence the courts.  The campaign seems to have been a success. The NY Times …

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Good environmental data matters for environmental litigation

If you aren’t reading Dave Owen’s blog posts over at Environmental Law Prof Blog, you should be.  His most recent post is about a recent Endangered Species Act (ESA) case in Texas: Environmental plaintiffs sued, arguing that the state of Texas had allowed too many water withdrawals upstream from the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, a critical breeding …

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Environmentalists Sue Over New Lake Tahoe Plan: Is the Perfect the Enemy of the Good?

The Sierra Club and a local neighborhood group recently sued the bistate Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, challenging TRPA’s just-adopted Regional Plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin. That development strikes me as unfortunate and counterproductive. Let me briefly explain why. The Lake Tahoe Basin, which straddles the California-Nevada border, has since 1968 been governed under a bistate Compact negotiated …

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