Administrative Law

The Supreme Court’s Top-10 Environmental Law Decisions

If these decisions had come out differently, environmental law would look very different than it does today.

Here’s what you really need to know about the Supreme Court’s rulings on environmental law — including its recent trend toward weakening environmental protection.

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Pouring Gas on a Five Alarm Fire

That’s Trump’s climate policy in a nutshell. His campaign slogan should be, “Burn, Baby, Burn.”

At a dinner for oil industry CEOs last week, Trump promised to fulfill the industry’s every dream in return for a billion dollars in donations.  We urgently need now is more federal climate action, not less. Yet the reelection of Donald Trump would wipe out years of federal climate action.  It’s important to understand fully …

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Judicial Deference to Agencies: A Timeline

Decisions about judicial deference to agencies on legal issues didn’t begin or end with Chevron.

The Supreme Court is about to make a major decision about the balance of power between courts and agencies like EPA. Here’s what you need to know about the history if the issue to understand what’s going today.

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Why the New Climate Reg for Coal is a Perfectly Normal EPA Rule

EPA’s approach isn’t a novel innovation. It’s just EPA applying its usual approach.

The problem isn’t that EPA’s new climate regulation for power plants will crush the coal-fired generation industry. It’s that much of the industry is so economically weak it can’t survive any kind of regulation.

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Don’t Count Your Judicial Vultures Before They Hatch

The conservative Supreme Court majority may turn out as bad as we fear. Or maybe not.

It’s not hard to imagine the conservative super-majority pursuing its campaign against regulatory agencies like vultures picking over the bones of environmental law.  That’s certainly possible – vulture eggs do, after all, generally hatch into vultures. But it’s not by any means a done deal.  There are multiple pathways the Court could take – none …

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U.S. Supreme Court Revisits, Tightens Regulatory Takings Limits on Land Use Regulation

California Homeowner’s Takings Challenge to County’s Traffic Impact Fee Heads Back to State Court

On April 12th, the U.S. Supreme Court revisited a constitutional doctrine near and dear to its institutional heart: when and under what circumstances does a land use permit condition violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause? In yet another “regulatory takings” case from California, the Supreme Court wound up not answering that precise question.  Instead, the …

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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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Deciphering NEPA 2.0

Here’s everything you wanted to know about the “New NEPA” but were afraid to ask.

NEPA was long an island of legal stability, standing almost unamended for over a half century.  Then in the summer of 2023, everything changed.  As a rider on the agreement to raise the debt ceiling, Congress extensively rewrote and expanded NEPA, gifting us with a new statutory regime.  As I’ve written before — and discuss …

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