Articles Tagged with SCOTUS

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In this summary of recent developments in environmental and regulatory law, venues are challenged, standing is upheld, statutory exemption is disputed and more.

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

Change Must Come from Within … Maryland?
As the new term begins, the Court has agreed to review BP PLC v. Mayor and City Council of Maryland, a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which held that a climate change damages case filed against many energy companies must be heard in the state courts of Maryland and not the federal courts. The petitioners argue that the federal office removal statute authorizes such removal, and the Fourth Circuit’s contrary decision conflicts with rulings from other circuit courts.

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768px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court-300x300On July 26, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration can access $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds to replace and enhance sections of barrier along the southern border in Arizona, California and New Mexico. The Court’s 5-4 decision in Trump v. Sierra Club stayed an injunction and let the administration access funds that were frozen by decisions of a federal district court in California in May and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (agreeing with the district court) on July 3. The significance of the decision is that the administration can now move forward with the work—for which contracts have already been awarded, but not finalized—while litigation brought by environmental groups proceeds in lower courts, a process that will take several months.

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768px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court-300x300The Supreme Court will be deciding some very important regulatory law cases in the new few weeks as the term winds down.

CERCLA Circled
Last week, the Court granted a petition to review a significant CERCLA case, Atlantic Richfield Company v. Christian, et al., decided by the Supreme Court of Montana on state law grounds. This case involves state litigation which could result in a cleanup whose scope is allegedly inconsistent with an ongoing and expensive federal CERCLA cleanup at the Anaconda Smelter site. CERCLA basically provides that no one may challenge an ongoing Superfund cleanup, yet this state common law proceeding seeking a cleanup of the plaintiff’s homes and properties arguably threatens the EPA-approved cleanup remedy. ARCO filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, which the Court has now granted despite the Solicitor General’s brief which argued that the Court should wait to see the results of the Montana trial. (It is unusual for the Court to reject the advice of the Solicitor General.)

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