Justia Environmental Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
Sierra Club v. Stanek
The Supreme Court dismissed this case involving permits issued in 2017 and 2018 by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to four different swine confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), holding that current circumstances rendered moot the legal challenges brought by Sierra Club.In 2017, Husky Hogs LLC formulated a plan to rebuild and expand its CAFO. As part of the plan, the rebuild planners formed Prairie Dog Pork, LLC, which was granted a portion of Husky Hogs' property. Thereafter, KDHE granted each LLC a permit. Subsequently, the same group of landowners created two additional LLCs to further their growing capacities and were given permits from KDHE. Sierra Club brought this lawsuit alleging that the permits issued to the four CAFOs violated the surface water setback requirements of Kan. Stat. Ann. 65-1,180. The district court held that the permits were unlawful. The CAFOs appealed, and while the appeal was pending KDHE issued four new permits to the CAFOs reflecting new legal descriptions of the four facilities. The court of appeals remanded the case with directions to reinstate the 2017 and 2018 permits, which were no longer operational. The Supreme Court dismissed the case, holding that there was no longer any actual controversy concerning the 2017 and 2018 permits. View "Sierra Club v. Stanek" on Justia Law
Sierra Club v. Mosier
In 2010, The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) issued a prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) construction permit to Sunflower Electric Power Corporation that authorized Sunflower to build a coal-fired electric generating unit at a site where Sunflower already operates a coal-fired station. In Sierra Club I, the Supreme Court held that KDHE had failed to comply with the federal Clean Air Act and remanded the permit to KDHE. On remand, KDHE issued an addendum to the 2010 permit. Sierra Club sought judicial review of that action, arguing, inter alia, that KDHE was required to conduct an entirely new permitting process rather than simply crafting an addendum to the 2010 permit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) KDHE did not err in adding an addendum to the 2010 permit; and (2) Sierra Club failed to establish any other basis for invalidating Sunflower’s PSD permit. View "Sierra Club v. Mosier" on Justia Law
Board of Miami County Comm’rs v. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy
At issue in this case was 4.5 miles of a railroad right-of-way that was railbanked and is now operated as a recreational trail. The appeal focused on the relationship between the Kansas Recreational Trails Act (KRTA) and the National Trails System Act (Trails Act), specifically: (1) whether the Trails Act preempts KRTA, (2) whether KRTA violates equal protection rights, and (3) whether the district court has jurisdiction to set the amount of bond required under KRTA. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that (1) a bond requirement and setting of a bond do not create a conflict with the Trails Act; (2) because KRTA does not provide a benefit to local competitors or burden local, nonpublic competitors, KRTA is not preempted because it violates the dormant Commerce Clause; (3) KRTA does not violate equal protection rights by establishing statutory requirements for interim recreational trails in railroad rights-of-way that differ from other categories of recreational trails that result from the terms of the Trails Act; and (4) the district court did have jurisdiction to set the amount of the bond and to require the appellant, Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, to pay the bond.