Public discussion of environmental law predictably focuses on the physical environment, including newspaper articles replete with references to climate change, lead in drinking water, recycling, or stories about individual species of endangered animals such as dusky gopher frogs. Legal decisions also discuss these issues. However, more often than not, they also address the questions of what agencies are authorized to do under statutes passed by Congress and which branch of government is best positioned to decide what is appropriate. Continue Reading Supreme Court Reiterates that Executive Actions Can Almost Always Be Challenged in Court
The U.S. Supreme Court signaled that it remains concerned with the issue of administrative deference following its grant of certiorari last week to hear Kisor v. O’Rourke specific to the issue of whether the Court should overrule Auer v. Robbins and Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. Overruling one or both of these decisions could result in courts giving considerably less deference to agencies’ interpretations of their own regulations. Continue Reading Administrative Agency Deference Theme Reemerges with SCOTUS Considering Overturning <em>Auer</em>
The Trump Administration revealed the new and long-awaited “waters of the United States” or “WOTUS” rule last week, which is designed to clear confusion on one of the most hotly debated topics in environmental law today – the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Continue Reading Long-Awaited WOTUS Rule Addresses Uncertainty, But May Face Litigation Ahead
Going paperless is generally seen as a cost-savings initiative. But, consistent with Governor Rauner’s “Cutting the Red Tape” initiative, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) proposed a rule that would allow Illinois businesses to track state-regulated, non-hazardous special wastes using paper waste manifests, the way that they had tracked these wastes before June 2018. The change would actually save significant money for generators, transporters, and receiving facilities dealing in state-regulated, non-hazardous special wastes, because they would no longer have to use the e-Manifest and pay its per-manifest fees. Continue Reading Midwest Businesses Could See Waste-Tracking Cost Savings from Illinois EPA Proposal
As climate change is integrated more and more into the planning of corporate opportunities and risks, the Fourth National Climate Assessment released last week may be a valuable resource to assess how climate change may impact your plants or business strategy on the horizon. Continue Reading Infrastructure, Planning Implications, and Midwest Impact of National Climate Assessment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed a revised policy to clarify what constitutes “ambient air” under the Clean Air Act, which will directly affect what areas stationary sources of air emissions must model to determine the effect of their facilities on air quality. The revised policy will most notably affect sources that have to model air quality around their facilities to demonstrate compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), as well as sources applying for air construction permits under the EPA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program. Continue Reading EPA Proposes to Clarify Areas Excluded from Clean Air Act’s Definition of “Ambient Air”
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed its reconsideration of a January 2009 final action on “project aggregation.” Project aggregation is the concept that addresses when to combine nominally separate physical or operational changes at a stationary source to determine whether the changes trigger New Source Review (NSR) permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The 2009 final action (74 FR 2376) (the “2009 Aggregation Action”) sets forth the EPA’s desired interpretation and policy concerning when to aggregate such activities into a single project. The EPA has submitted the final action reconsidering the 2009 Aggregation Action for publication in the Federal Register (the “2018 Reconsideration”). After the 2018 Reconsideration is published, the 2009 Aggregation Action will go into effect Continue Reading EPA Completes Reconsideration of “Project Aggregation” Final Action
Late last week, the Supreme Court lifted the stay on Juliana v. United States, a closely watched federal case that could create an unprecedented link between the government’s environmental policy and constitutional rights, if it proceeds to trial.
Twenty-two months into the Trump Administration and a trend has become abundantly clear: courts are profoundly skeptical of the Trump Administration’s use of executive orders to undo or undercut regulations. Federal rulemakings are serious business for courts and regulated industries, which is why we have chronicled the Trump Administration’s regulatory reform efforts, including proposals to undo rules implemented by previous administrations.
In a key decision earlier this month with potentially hefty ongoing implications for developers and property owners, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held a chemical company liable for nearly $1 million in pre-acquisition cleanup costs. The case is Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection v. Trainer Custom Chemical, LLC and offers another clear illustration that property owners and developers may be liable for environmental response costs incurred before they acquired property. Continue Reading Property Owners and Developers Beware: Third Circuit Holds Chemical Company Liable for Pre-Acquisition Cleanup Costs