Contractors Beware: Recent Supreme Court Rulings Will Impose More Environmental Restrictions


United States Supreme Court decisions provide guideposts for the exercise of environmental permitting and enforcement power by state and federal authorities. Whether a particular facility can be permitted often determines whether it can be built or modified after it has been constructed. In addition, a decision such as the Court’s ruling in the case of Marvin Brandt Revocable Trust v. US has a bearing on land use considerations. Even a decision by the Court not to take up a case will have these same consequences. For instance, the Court’s refusal to review the Mingo Logan Coal Company v. EPA leaves undisturbed the EPA’s asserted power to overturn a Corps of Engineers’ permitting decision, which may create disincentives to begin a project in the first place if it looks controversial.

Recently, we published our advisory Supreme Court Roundup: Recent Environmental Law Rulings and Pending Cases. Our Advisory discusses the United States Supreme Court’s rulings affecting environmental law during the October 2013 Term. With significant pronouncements regarding EPA’s Clean Air Act regulatory authority among them, however, the October 2013 Term was far from uneventful. Several more cases slated for the October 2014 Term presage rulings across a broad spectrum of environmental and administrative law issues.