Law & The Environment

To Inform, Update, Comment and Discuss Legal Issues Regarding Environmental Law

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The public-private partnership Louisiana Strategies for Future Environments just released a report so stark in its conclusions that, were it not for all of the maps and figures its contains, one would have assumed that it had to be written in a blue state such as Massachusetts or California, rather than deep red Louisiana.  It’s sad that we’ve come to this point, but it does appear that Louisiana at least is taking the fact of…
Earlier this week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals partially reversed a district court decision, and ordered the Bureau of Land Management to vacate the NEPA approvals and permits it had issued authorizing the drilling of a number of fracked wells in the Mancos Shale, near Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.  The decision is not earthshattering – pun most definitely intended! – but there are a few features of note.  First, the Court actually affirmed…
After receiving an analysis showing that shutting the Jim Bridger and Naughton coal-fired electric generating plants in Wyoming would save ratepayers money, PacificCorp, the owner of the plants, announced that it would shut the plants and the mines that supply them as early as 2022.  Mark Gordon, the Republican Governor of Wyoming is not happy. According to Greenwire (subscription required), Gordon said that: I will advocate for a positive path where this utility and others…
In 2016, DOI Secretarial Order 3338 imposed a moratorium on new coal leases on federal land until BLM prepared a programmatic environmental impact statement intended to address, among other issues, the impact of coal leasing on climate change. Times do change.  In 2018, DOI Secretarial Order 3348 eliminated the moratorium and the requirement to prepare a PEIS.  Litigation ensued. Last week, Judge Brian Morris ruled against DOI.  The key findings were that the 2018…
On Friday, MassDEP proposed a number of revisions to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, including reporting and cleanup standards for PFASThe proposed GW-1 standard, applicable to current and potential drinking water source areas, would be 20 parts per trillion for the sum of six PFAS compounds (PFDA, PFHpA, PFHxS, PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA) – significantly more stringent than the 70 ppt guideline for the sum of five PFAS compounds currently in effect. Of course,…
On Monday, EPA issued an Interpretive Statement concluding that point source discharges to groundwater are never subject to NPDES permitting requirements.  EPA did a good job marshalling its arguments – much better than this EPA has done in a number of similar situations. I have previously noted the difficulties associated with regulating point source discharges to groundwater under the NPDES program, so I’m sympathetic to EPA’s argument.  For example, Massachusetts takes the position that all…
Some cases just make you wonder what people were thinking.  I’m not even sure Donald Trump would have tried to get away with what Dico, Inc., tried to get away with. In 1994, EPA issued an administrative order, requiring Dico to address PCBs in insulation in buildings it owned in Des Moines, Iowa.  Without informing EPA, Dico sold the buildings.  Dico did not inform the buyer of the buildings about either the presence of PCBs…
I don’t work in the oil and gas industry.  This lede from Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) may not be news to anyone in the industry, but it absolutely blew me away: America’s hottest oil patch is producing so much natural gas that by the end of last year producers were burning off more than enough of the fuel to meet residential demand across the whole of Texas. In short, oil companies are flaring more than…
In 2008, EPA issued an administrative order to Chantell and Michael Sackett, requiring them to remove what EPA had concluded was illegally placed fill on their property in Northern Idaho.  Litigation followed, including a fairly well-known Supreme Court decision. After the Supreme Court ruled that the Sacketts were entitled to appeal the administrative order, the case was remanded to the District Court.  On March 31, the Court granted the government’s summary judgment motion and…