Articles Posted in Environmental

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February saw the usual array of significant environmental decisions and federal regulatory notices.

THE FEDERAL COURTS

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

Luminant Generation v. EPA
The court will be grappling with a difficult venue case governed by the Clean Air Act (42 USC Section 7607(b)). In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided the case of Luminant Generation v. EPA (714 F. 3d 841), in which the court upheld the affirmative defenses that were made part of the Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP) and which applied to certain unpermitted emissions from regulated sources during periods of startup, shutdown or malfunction. These defenses were challenged in the Fifth Circuit and were rejected. On the national stage, EPA has been involved in litigation over these affirmative defenses and recently excluded from a “SIP Call” the Texas program, which was carved out. This EPA decision is being challenged in the DC Circuit (see Case number 20-1115),with the State of Texas arguing as an intervenor that any issues involving Texas belong in the Fifth Circuit, and not in the DC Circuit because the Act allows regional issues to be decided in the regional federal courts.

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This is a brief review of recent significant environmental and administrative law rulings and developments. With the change in presidential administrations, the fate of at least some of the newly promulgated rules is uncertain.

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THE FEDERAL APPELLATE COURTS

The U.S. Court of Appeals
On November 23, 2020, the court, in a 2-to-1 vote, rejected the plaintiff’s request for an emergency injunction pending appeal in the case of Manzanita Band of Kumeyaay Nation, et al. v. Wolf. The majority held the requirement for such relief did not meet the requirements set forth in Winter v. NRDC, 555 US 7 (2008). Here, the plaintiffs allege that that the government’s construction of a border wall violates several environmental laws that were illegally waived by the Secretary of the Interior. Judge Millett dissented in part because the plaintiffs demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. She pointed to the argument that the authority of the Secretary—or Acting Secretary—to take these actions has been successfully challenged in several federal district courts. An expedited pleading schedule was established by the court.

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Climate21-logo-300x169This is a brief review of the recently released “Climate 21 Project” policy memo. It is the work of many former members of the Obama Administration who are deeply concerned about climate change and what steps the new administration can take in the first 100 days to confront a problem. Offering “actionable advice” rather than a policy agenda, the group recognizes that Congress must do its part by providing new statutory authorities within the early days of the new administration, and the President must be prepared to aggressively exercise the powers of his office. As the members of the Group see it, there are four interlocking crises facing the President: (a) the COVID-19 pandemic; (b) the economic devastation visited upon many people by the pandemic; (c) racial injustice; and (d) accelerating threats posed by climate change.

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This roundup of recent environmental and regulatory law rulings and rulemakings includes an EPA deadline extended, a NEPA exclusion and PSM application upheld, and an unsuccessful appeal to the federal officer removal doctrine.

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https://www.gravel2gavel.com/files/2020/10/1200px-US-OfficeOfManagementAndBudget-Seal.svg_-300x300.pngOn March 2, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency revised its “On-Site Civil Inspection Procedures” in accordance with Executive Order 13892 . (The rules are located at 40 CFR Part 31.) These rules set forth the components of an appropriate inspection procedure. Briefly, the rules require that, after the inspector’s credential are made available, the object of the inspection will be discussed (and most inspections will be held during regular working hours), consent to enter must be obtained, there should be an opening and a closing conference with facility representatives, safety protocols must be observed, confidential business information must be protected, and there will be an opportunity for split sampling. Once the report is completed, it will be shared with the facility.

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Pillsbury partner and Global Co-Head of the Energy & Infrastructure Projects team, Mona Dajani, talks #ChangeInPower with Paul Browning, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Power Americas.

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Join us on November 12, 2020, for a 45-minute conversation, where Mona and Paul discuss the power sector’s role in the energy transition, the growing prominence of hydrogen and energy storage, collaborating with customers and stakeholders and setting a path toward a decarbonization of the power grid.

To attend this exclusive fireside chat, register here.

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Our latest summary of some recent developments in the courts and the federal agencies includes a unique case involving salt marshes adjacent to San Francisco Bay.

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