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Appellants challenged the trial court's order and judgment dismissing appellants' petition for writ of mandate and complaint. At issue was whether Proposition 65's reliance on the International Agency for Research on Cancer to identify known carcinogens violated various provisions and doctrines of the California and United States Constitutions. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, rejecting appellants' arguments that the Labor Code listing mechanism violated article II, section 12 of the California Constitution, because the Agency did not qualify as a private corporation under the constitutional provision; that the Labor Code listing mechanism was an unlawful delegation of authority; that the Labor Code listing mechanism violated procedural due process rights; and that the Labor Code listing mechanism violated the Guarantee Clause of the United States Constitution. View "Monsanto Co. v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment" on Justia Law

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The District 5 Commission denied Korrow Real Estate LLC’s as-built application for an Act 250 permit to construct a barn on property alongside the Dog and Stony Brook Rivers, finding the project failed to comply with Act 250 Criteria 1(D) and 1(F). In doing so, the Commission construed key terms as defined by the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). On appeal, the Environmental Division reversed the decision and remanded the matter to the Commission with instructions to grant an as-built permit for the project. The Vermont Natural Resources Board appealed the decision, arguing the court failed to accord proper deference to the ANR’s statutory authority and expertise, and that the project failed to comply with the necessary Act 250 permitting criteria. The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. The Supreme Court found the ANR determined the Korrow project was within the Act 250 “floodway” based on the project’s location relative to the FEH area surrounding the Dog and Stony Brook Rivers. The Environmental Division erred when it determined that the methodology applied by Korrow’s expert, or the methodology of the court, was superior to that employed by the ANR. In applying the ANR definition, the Supreme Court found Korrow’s project was within the “floodway” under 10 V.S.A. 6001(6), triggering analysis of project compliance with Act 250 Criterion 1(D). Even though the court erroneously found that the project was located outside the “floodway,” there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that the project complied with Criterion 1(D). With respect to Criterior 1(F), the Supreme Court found two flaws in the lower court’s findings: (1) interpreting the scope of land “adjacent” to the rivers was essential to determining whether a project was on a “shoreline,” no definition of “adjacent” was provided; and (2) even applying the court’s contextual, rather than distance-based, analysis of the project’s location in relation to the Dog and Stony Brook Rivers, the court’s conclusion that the project was not on the “shoreline” was based on insufficient evidence. The Supreme Court could not determine, based on the trial court record, whether the project at issue here was constructed on a “shoreline” and, if so, whether the project complied with the subcriteria required by statute. As such, the Environmental Division’s conclusion that the project complied with Criterion 1(F) was reversed and this issue remanded to the court for further findings. Because the question of what was meant by “adjacent” was critical to the shoreline determination and had not been briefed or argued, the parties were directed upon remand to brief this issue for the court. The Supreme Court reversed the Environmental Division’s ruling defining the term “floodway,” but affirmed its conclusion that the project complied with Criterion 1(D). The Court reversed and remanded to the Environmental Division for further proceedings to determine whether this project involved a “shoreline” and, if so, the project’s compliance with Criterion 1(F). View "In re Korrow Real Estate, LLC Act 250 Permit Amendment Application" on Justia Law

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There was personal jurisdiction over Exxon Mobil Corporation with respect to the Attorney General’s investigation into whether Exxon knew, long before the general public, that emissions from fossil fuels contributed to climate change and whether the company sought to undermine the evidence of climate change in order to preserve its value as a company. Based on her authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 6, the Attorney General issued a civil investigative demand (CID) to Exxon Mobil Corporation seeking information and documents relating to Exxon’s knowledge of and activities related to climate change. Exxon moved to set aside or modify the CID, arguing that it was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts, that the Attorney General should be disqualified for bias, that the CID violated Exxon’s statutory and constitutional rights, and that the case should be stayed pending a ruling on Exxon’s request for relief in federal court. A superior court denied the motion and allowed the Attorney General’s cross motion to compel Exxon to comply with the CID. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) there was personal jurisdiction over Exxon; and (2) the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in denying Exxon’s requests to set aside the CID, disqualify the Attorney General, and issue a stay. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Contra Costa County certified an environmental impact report (EIR) and approved a land use permit for a “Propane Recovery Project” at a Rodeo oil refinery owned and operated by Phillips 66. The trial court ordered the county to set aside the certification of the EIR and approval of the land use permit and to correct specified inadequacies in the EIR in the analysis of air quality issues. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting arguments by project opponents that the trial court erred in rejecting its additional arguments that the project description and the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental hazards failed to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code 21000). With respect to the description, the court noted substantial evidence that Phillips’ propane recovery project is independent of any purported change in the crude oil feedstock used at the Refinery and will not increase its present capacity to refine heavier crude oils. View "Rodeo Citizens Association. v. County of Contra Costa" on Justia Law

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In 2014, several hundred thousand gallons of gasoline spilled from a rupture in an underground pipeline near Belton, South Carolina. The gasoline seeped into nearby waterways. Following a cleanup, at least 160,000 gallons allegedly remained unrecovered. Plaintiffs allege that the gasoline has continued to travel a distance of 1000 feet or less from the pipeline to Browns Creek and Cupboard Creek, which are tributaries of the Savannah River, and their adjacent wetlands Conservation groups brought a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251–1387, alleging violations by polluting "navigable waters of the United States" without a permit and seeking relief to remediate the ongoing pollution. The district court held that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the pipeline has been repaired and the pollutants currently pass through groundwater to reach “navigable waters.” The Fourth Circuit vacated. Citizens may bring suit under 33 U.S.C. 1365(a) for discharges of pollutants that derive from a “point source,” defined as “any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, [or] container” and continue to be “added” to navigable waters. Plaintiffs have stated a valid claim for a discharge under the Act. View "Upstate Forever v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and intervenor Newhall Land and Farming in an action challenging the Corps’ issuance of a permit, pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, to Newhall Land, authorizing the discharge of materials into the Santa Clara River as part of the Newhall Ranch project in Los Angeles County near Santa Clarita, California. The Court rejected challenges under the Clean Water Act to the Corp’s permit issuance. The Court concluded that the Corps complied with its obligations under the Clean Water Act because the Corps properly considered practicability as required under the Section 404(b) Guidelines. Furthermore, the Court concluded concluded that the Corps complied with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because its determination that Southern California steelhead would not be affected by the Project, and its corresponding decision not to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service, were not arbitrary and capricious. For similar reasons, the panel concluded that the Corps reasonably assessed the Project’s potential impacts to the steelhead and provided sufficient discussion to satisfy its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) obligations. View "Friends of the Santa Clara River v. US Army Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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Front Range Resources, LLC, a private company that owned or managed various water rights, applied for a replacement plan in the Lost Creek Designated Ground Water Basin. Under the plan, Front Range sought to divert water from its existing water rights to recharge the Lost Creek Basin’s alluvial aquifer. It then planned to withdraw the recharged water by increasing the use of its existing wells and by constructing new wells. Defendants (parties that believed their water rights would be impaired by the plan) objected to Front Range’s replacement plan, and the Ground Water Commission ultimately dismissed Front Range’s application with prejudice, allowing Front Range to appeal to the district court. Meanwhile, Front Range and the City of Aurora entered into an option contract for Aurora to purchase some or all of the replacement-plan water upon the replacement plan’s approval. On appeal, the district court rejected Front Range’s use of water rights in the South Platte River in the replacement plan. It further found the replacement plan involved new appropriations and changes of water rights, triggering the anti-speculation doctrine. In granting summary judgment against Front Range, the district court concluded Front Range’s planned use of the replacement-plan water (including its option contract with Aurora) violated the anti-speculation doctrine. Some of the Defendants then pursued attorney fees, arguing Front Range’s claims lacked substantial justification. But the district court denied their motion. After review, the Colorado Supreme Court held the anti-speculation doctrine applied to replacement plans involving new appropriations or changes to designated ground water rights. Because Front Range could not demonstrate that it or Aurora would put the replacement-plan water to beneficial use, the district court did not err in granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, the Court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants’ motion for attorney fees. View "Front Range Resources, LLC v. Colorado Ground Water Commission" on Justia Law

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The City of Kennett, Missouri, sued the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the EPA’s approval of a total maximum daily load for Buffalo Ditch. Buffalo Ditch was a stream that ran southwest into Arkansas from the City. The City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant was a point source of pollutants into it. Parts of Buffalo Ditch had been on Missouri’s EPA-approved list of impaired waters since 1994, due to low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO), which supported aquatic life. The final total maximum daily load” (TMDL) set wasteload allocations for pollutants from the Treatment Plant. These wasteload allocations were more stringent than the limited in the City’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The City’s permit was to expire in 2015; in its “Implementation Plan” for point sources, the TMDL stated if it was determined the current water quality criterion for dissolved oxygen was appropriate, the wasteload allocations from the TMDL would be implemented. If not appropriate, and a new dissolved oxygen criterion was promulgated, then new wasteload allocations would be calculated and implemented. Despite this intention, the DO criterion and the TMDL did not change. The City sued, alleging: (1) the EPA exceeded its authority in approving the TMDL; (2) the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously; (3) the EPA failed to provide the required notice and comment. The Eighth Circuit determined the City waived a claim by failing to mention or argue for summary judgment on that claim, and by failing to respond to the EPA's motion for summary judgment on the claim. With respect to its remaining claims and the issue of standing, the City established injury in fact as it would incur costs in complying with any new limits on pollution discharge from its waste water plant. Similarly, because the injury was impending, the City also established redressability, and it had standing to bring this action. Further, the Court determined the case was ripe, and the district court erred in granting the EPA summary judgment based on a lack of standing and ripeness. The EPA argued the City waived its remaining claims by failing to raise them in the administrative process; because it would be beneficial to permit the district court to address this issue in the first instance, the matter was remanded for further proceedings on this question and, if necessary, the merits of those issues. View "City of Kennett v. Env. Prot. Agency" on Justia Law

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The first of these two consolidated cases involved a lawsuit filed by multiple individual plaintiffs against defendant coal companies alleging that Defendants’ mining activities had contaminated Plaintiffs’ well water with lead and arsenic. The jury returned verdicts for Defendants. During the course of the underlying litigation, Plaintiffs invoked the water replacement provisions of the West Virginia Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act, W. Va. Code 22-3-1 et seq. The circuit court issued a preliminary injunction requiring Defendants to provide replacement water until liability for the well water contamination had been established. After the jury rendered its verdicts, Defendants requested that the circuit court dissolve the injunction. The circuit court refused to dissolve the injunction while the matter was pending on appeal. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the circuit court’s ruling refusing Plaintiffs’ motion to set aside the jury verdicts and for a new trial, holding that there was no error requiring reversal; and (2) reversed the circuit court’s ruling refusing to dissolve the preliminary injunction, holding that the injunction should have been dissolved. However, because during the pendency of the instant appeal Defendants failed to comply with the injunction, this case must be remanded for the parties to address that issue. View "Belcher v. Dynamic Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed an April 27, 2016 order of the Montana Water Court adjudicating Teton Cooperative Reservoir Company’s (Teton Reservoir) water rights. The Court held that the Water Court did not err in (1) determining that Teton Reservoir’s 1902 Notice of Appropriation was valid; (2) applying the equitable doctrine of laches to Teton Reservoir’s 1902 Notice of Appropriation; (3) decreeing Teton Reservoir an annual volume totaling 60,000 acre feet for storage in the Bynum Reservoir; and (4) refusing to limit Teton Reservoir’s wintertime diversions to one-half of the available water in the Teton River. View "Teton Cooperative Reservoir Co. v. Farmers Cooperative Canal Co." on Justia Law