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Petitioners challenged EPA's final rule listing the West Vermont Drinking Water Contamination Site on the National Priorities List (NPL) of hazardous waste sites that are high priorities for remedial action. The DC Circuit held that the listing of the site was arbitrary and capricious where EPA failed to consider an important aspect of the problem regarding the treatment of two aquifers by entirely failing to address evidence that runs counter to the agency's decision. The court also held that EPA has failed to offer substantial evidence to support its finding of an interconnection between the aquifers, it has ignored evidence undercutting its conclusion, and it has failed to state a reasoned basis for overcoming the regulatory presumption of non-interconnection. The court rejected petitioners' claim that the rule should be vacated based on EPA's failure to take into account the direction of ground water flow. Therefore, the court granted the petitions for review, vacated the rule to the extent that it placed the Site on the NPL, and remanded to EPA for further proceedings. View "Genuine Parts Co. v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Due process requires junior water rights holders in the Diamond Valley Hydrographic Basin No. 153 (Diamond Valley) be given notice and an opportunity to participate in the district court’s consideration of the request of a vested, senior water rights holder to order the State Engineer to curtail junior water rights in Diamond Valley. Because water in Diamond Valley has been over-appropriated and pumped at a rate exceeding its perennial yield for more than four decades, groundwater levels in southern Diamond Valley have fallen over 100 feet. Sadler Ranch, which claims to be a vested, senior water rights holder in Diamond Valley, petitioned the district court to order the State Engineer to initiate curtailment proceedings regarding junior water rights in Diamond Valley. The Supreme Court granted this writ petition, holding that an upcoming show cause hearing may result in a court order to begin curtailment proceedings, resulting in possible deprivation of property rights. Therefore, due process required junior water rights holders in Diamond Valley to be given notice and an opportunity to be heard before the district court conducted the hearing. View "Eureka County v. Seventh Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The State Water Resources Control Board’s adoption of a permit fee schedule was proper and violated neither Cal. Water Code 13260(d)(1)(B) or (f)(1) nor Cal. Const. art. XIII A. By statute, the Board has five members. At the time of the meeting at which the Board members voted to approve the fee schedule, two of those seats were vacant. Two of the three members voted to approve one of the proposed fee schedules, and the third member abstained. Based on that vote, the Board adopted emergency regulations retroactively revising the fee schedule. Plaintiff challenged the Board’s approval of the fee schedule. The trial court entered judgment for the Board. The court of appeal affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) procedural challenge; (2) the fee schedule did not violate section 13260(d)(1)(B) or (f)(1); and (3) the fees did not violate constitutional restrictions contained in article XIII A. View "California Building Industry Association v. State Water Resources Control Board" on Justia Law

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Petitioner N. Miles Cook, III, appealed a Wetlands Council (Council) ruling upholding the decision of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) denying his request for a permit to reconstruct and extend his dock on the Piscataqua River. Because DES did not have the benefit of the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s interpretation of the term “need” as used in Env-Wt 302.01(a) and Env-Wt 302.04(a)(1) for determining whether an applicant has met the permit requirements, and because, as the Council noted, the central issue was whether petitioner “could justify the expanded dock proposal based on his ‘need’ to access navigable water on a more frequent basis than he currently experiences with the existing dock,” the Supreme Court vacated DES’s decision and remanded to the Council with instructions to remand to DES for further consideration in light of the definition the Court adopted for the purposes of this opinion. View "Appeal of N. Miles Cook, III" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-homeowners alleged the copper piping in their homes was damaged by a chemical the defendant water districts added to tap water. Adding the chemical was authorized by regulation, however, and it was undisputed that the water districts complied with all statutory and regulatory standards. After a bifurcated bench trial on certain legal issues, the trial court entered judgment for the water districts, finding plaintiffs’ causes of action for nuisance and inverse condemnation were preempted by federal and state laws, and otherwise insufficient on the merits. The plaintiff homeowners appealed. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded plaintiffs’ causes of action failed on the merits, and thus affirmed. View "Williams v. Moulton Niguel Water Dist." on Justia Law

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In this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding, the Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division erred in foreclosing the possibility that title 9 of article 27 of the Environmental Conservation Law authorized the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) action unilaterally remediating the significant threat posed by hazardous wastes FMC Corporation (FMC) had released into neighboring properties. Moreover, the Court held that the interpretation of title 13 of article 27 adopted by both parties authorized DEC’s unilateral remediation effort, and therefore, any disputes over title 9 need not be resolved. View "FMC Corp. v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for NPS, in an action alleging violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706, in establishing the boundaries of the Niobrara Scenic River Area (NSRA), both generally and with respect to his property. The court held that NPS engaged in a methodical, time-consuming boundary-drawing process, and it used the appropriate statutory standard to identify oustandingly remarkable values and it drew a boundary line that sought to protect those values. Furthermore, there was no evidence in the record that would lead the court to conclud that NPS subjected plaintiff to disparate treatment or acted in bad faith. View "Simmons v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Westside in an action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. The panel held that Westside, a defendant who buys real property at a tax sale, did not have a "contractual relationship" with the previous owner of the property within the meaning of CERCLA. The panel reasoned that the previous owner caused contamination "in connection with" its contractual relationship with Westside and thus Westside was not entitled to CERCLA's third-party defense. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Cal. DTSC v. Westside Delivery, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit alleging that the Corps violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in issuing permit and exemption determinations to a real property owner. The permits and exemptions allowed the owner to construct a road by dredging and filling portions of Enemy Swim Lake. With one exception, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Tribe's claims. The court held that the 2010 letter issued by the Corp did not constitute a final agency action for purposes of the permit and exemption determinations, and that the Tribe's recapture claim was a nonjusticiable enforcement action; the Tribe was not eligible for equitable tolling in this case; the Corps did not act arbitrarily and capriciously by determining that the owner's 2009 project qualified for a nationwide permit; and the court did not have appellate jurisdiction to address the lawfulness of the Corps's NHPA regulations. View "Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation v. U.S. Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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This case involved an order of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that granted Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company pre-approval to install pollution-control devices at one of its power plants. The order raised two issues: (1) whether res judicata precluded the Commission from pre-approving OG&E's capital expenditure; and (2) whether the Commission could grant pre-approval under Okla. Const. art. 9, section 181 and 17 O.S. 2011 sec. 151 et seq. rather than 17 O.S. 2011 sec. 286(B). The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that although res judicata did not preclude the Commission from pre-approving the expenditure, it lacked authority outside of 17 O.S. 2011 sec. 286(B)2 to do so. View "Sierra Club v. Oklahoma Corporation Comm'n" on Justia Law