Litigation

On the First Monday in October, the Sacketts Head to the Supreme Court a Second Time

Sackett v. EPA–the Most Important Environmental Case on the Justices’ Current Docket–Will Answer the Key Question of How Far Federal Wetlands Regulation Extends Under the Clean Water Act

Today the U.S. Supreme Court formally begins its 2022-23 Term.  First up on the justices’ docket this morning is a major environmental case: Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 21-454. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Over the past half-century, no single CWA issue has proven more contentious and …

CONTINUE READING

Climate Change and the Major Question Doctrine

Just because a regulation involves climate change, that doesn’t make it a major question.

Red State AGs are preparing to go to town with the West Virginia case. They seem to think that everything involving climate change automatically becomes a major question. That’s simply wrong. The doctrine is more nuanced. Recall that the Supreme Court struck down OSHA’s vaccine mandate, essentially on major questions grounds, but the majority found …

CONTINUE READING

EPA’s Best Option: Co-Firing

Yesterday’s decision leaves open a powerful regulatory tool.

What can EPA do to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants after yesterday’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA?  The decision clearly ruled out any direct mandate to shift generation from coal generators to cleaner power generators. But the Supreme Court didn’t endorse Trump’s ultra-limited interpretation of the law either.  This leaves EPA with …

CONTINUE READING

A Beautiful Day for Bumblefish?

A California court just ruled that bumblebees are fish. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

A California appeals court ruled last week that bumblebees are fish and are therefore protected by the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). That may sound ridiculous, but there’s actually a convoluted legal argument to support the court. That argument does justify giving the CESA some extra coverage beyond what we would ordinarily classify as fish.  …

CONTINUE READING

How Cohesive Are the Conservative Justices?

Signs of internal tensions within the conservative supermajority could be good news for environmental protection.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, people known as Kremlinologists used to try to figure out what was going on behind the scenes by seeing who was standing next to whom in official photos. We have a bit more visibility into the Supreme Court, but only a bit. That being said, there are …

CONTINUE READING

Smoke But No Fire

No, the draft Supreme Court abortion decision doesn’t threaten the standing of environmental groups

The implications for environmental law are far from being the most important aspect of the leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion overruling Roe v. Wade.  The aggressiveness of the opinion in the Dobbs case signals a kind of activism that is definitely worrisome in other areas. At the end of last week, however, there …

CONTINUE READING

Registration Is Open for the 2022 California Water Law Symposium

California’s Most Important Annual Water Law Conference–Law Student Organized!–Set for April 9th

Registration is now open for California’s 2022 Water Law Symposium, scheduled for Saturday, April 9th. U.C. Davis School of Law has the honor of hosting this year’s Symposium, which is an extraordinary event in two respects: first, it is organized entirely by law students (rather than law firms, water organizations, law professors or commercial vendors).  …

CONTINUE READING

Smoothing the Path for Transmission Lines

Fights over who should pay for power lines may become much easier to solve.

New high-power transmission lines have to run a regulatory gauntlet to get approved. One of the biggest barriers, however, isn’t about whether the line can be built but who will pay for it.  That has turned out to be a much knottier problem than you might think. A decision by the D.C. Circuit on Friday, …

CONTINUE READING

Major Questions About Today’s Big Climate Case

Here’s what you need to know about today’s oral argument in W. Va. v. EPA

The Supreme Court is hearing oral argument this morning in West Virginia v. EPA. The case is a challenge by the coal industry and coal states to EPA’s power to limit carbon emissions by power plants. Here’s what to look for today. Q: What is the case about? A: In practical terms, the question is what EPA …

CONTINUE READING

Why CEQA is a Useful Tool for Environmental Justice Communities in California

A local environmental justice group’s victory in a recent California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) exemption case highlights the importance of CEQA for environmental justice communities in California. After the group, Cudahy Alliance for Justice, challenged the City of Cudahy’s approval of an elementary and middle school on a hazardous waste site, Los Angeles Superior Court …

CONTINUE READING

TRENDING