Justia Environmental Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
OK Dept. Environmetal Quality v. EPA
Oklahoma petitioned for review of the EPA's final rule establishing a federal implementation plan for the attainment of national air quality standards in "Indian country." The court held that a state has regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq., over all land within its territory and outside the boundaries of an Indian reservation except insofar as an Indian tribe or the EPA has demonstrated a tribe has jurisdiction. In this instance, the EPA was without authority to displace Oklahoma's state implementation plan on non-reservation Indian country where the agency requires a tribe to show it has jurisdiction before regulating Indian country outside a reservation, yet made no demonstration of tribal jurisdiction before itself regulating those areas. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review and vacated the Rule with respect to non-reservation lands. View "OK Dept. Environmetal Quality v. EPA" on Justia Law
Wildearth Guardians, et al. v. Salazar, et al.
Plaintiffs, WildEarth and others, challenged the BLM's decision to approve the West Antelope II tracts for lease in the Wyoming Powder River Basin. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants, finding that plaintiffs lacked standing to raise one of their arguments and that their remaining arguments failed on the merits. The court concluded, however, that plaintiffs adequately raised their theory of procedural injury below and therefore had standing to challenge each of the alleged deficiencies in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). On the merits, the court concluded that the BLM satisfied its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., in considering climate change and that the BLM satisfied its obligations under NEPA in considering the effect the lease developments would have on local ozone levels. The court considered and rejected plaintiffs' remaining arguments and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Wildearth Guardians, et al. v. Salazar, et al." on Justia Law
Daimler Trucks North America LLC, et al. v. EPA
The EPA promulgated a rule in 2001 requiring a 95% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions by heavy-duty motor vehicles by 2010. Petitioners, competitors of Navistar, challenged the EPA's 2012 rulemaking establishing nonconformance penalties (NCPs) to protect technological laggards, such as Navistar, by allowing them to pay a penalty for engines temporarily unable to meet a new or revised emission standard. The court granted the petition for review because of the lack of adequate notice and opportunity to comment on the amendments to the "substantial work" regulation. In light of the EPA's counsel's statement during oral argument that due to the changed circumstances of Navistar, vacatur would cause no harm, the court vacated the 2012 Rule. View "Daimler Trucks North America LLC, et al. v. EPA" on Justia Law
Daimler Trucks North America, et al. v. EPA
The EPA promulgated an interim final rule (IFR) authorizing it to issue certificates of conformity to diesel truck engines manufacturers for 2012 and 2013 model-year engines notwithstanding the engines did not conform to EPA's emission standard for nitrogen oxides promulgated under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7521(a) - provided the manufacturer paid the government a non-conformance penalty (NCP) as established in the IFR. After notice and comment, EPA replaced the IFR with a final NCP rule establishing new and higher NCPs. Daimler petitioned for review of the IFR on both procedural and substantive grounds, as well as EPA's issuance to manufacturer Navistar four 2012 model year certificates of conformity. The court concluded that, with the publication of the Final NCP Rule, Daimler's challenge to the certificates was moot and dismissed the petition for review. View "Daimler Trucks North America, et al. v. EPA" on Justia Law
Nat’l Assoc. of Clean Water Agencies v. EPA, et al.
Petitioners challenged the EPA's final rule establishing emission standards for sewage sludge incinerators under section 129 of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7429. The court remanded to the EPA portions of the rule for further explanation without vacating the current maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards. Specifically, the court directed the EPA to clarify why its Clean Water Act Part 503, 40 C.F.R. pt. 503, regulations controlled for other non-technology factors; to clarify issues related to its upper prediction limit and variability analysis; and to elaborate on how it could use a statistical method to determine whether a limited dataset was representative of incinerators for which it had no data, and to explain why it chose the variables it did for that statistical analysis. In all other respects, the court upheld the EPA's rule against petitioners' challenges. View "Nat'l Assoc. of Clean Water Agencies v. EPA, et al." on Justia Law
Conservation Force, Inc., et al. v. Jewell, et al.
Appellants - safari clubs, hunters, and international conservationists - alleged that the Service's failure to take actions concerning the straight-horn markhor was arbitrary and capricious. The court concluded that appellants' claims relating to the 1999 downlisting petition were moot where appellants have obtained all the relief that they sought; appellants' claims concerning the alleged failure of the Service to timely process four applications to import straight-horn markhor trophies were moot and the hunters' related due process claims were necessarily moot as well; and there was no record evidence to support the claim that any of appellants suffered an injury-in-fact from the Services' alleged ongoing policy of delay. Accordingly, the court remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The portion of the district court's order addressing the claims raised on appeal was vacated. View "Conservation Force, Inc., et al. v. Jewell, et al." on Justia Law
State of Texas, et al. v. EPA
These appeals challenged the EPA's promulgation of rules in response to the Supreme Court's holding that greenhouse gases unambiguously qualify as an "air pollutant" under the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7401. At issue was implementation of Part C of Title I of the Act permitting requirements in several States without implementation plans for greenhouse gases as of January 2, 2011, when the emission standards in the Tailpipe Rule took effect. The court held that under the plain text of sections 165(a) and 167, the permitting requirements were self-executing without regard to previously approved state implementation plans. The court concluded that petitioners lacked Article III standing to challenge the rules because industry petitioners failed to show how they have been injured in fact by rules enabling issuance of the necessary permits and state petitioners failed to show how vacating the rules would redress their purported injuries. Accordingly, the court dismissed the petitions for lack of jurisdiction. View "State of Texas, et al. v. EPA" on Justia Law
State of Mississippi v. EPA
Petitioners petitioned for review of the EPA's most recent revisions to the primary and secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone. The court rejected Mississippi and the industry groups' challenge to the primary and secondary NAAQS standards; the court denied the governmental and environmental petitions with respect to the primary standard; but the court granted their petition with respect to the secondary standard. Because EPA failed to determine what level of protection was "requisite to protect the public welfare," EPA's explanation for the secondary standard violated the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7401. Accordingly, the court remanded the secondary NAAQS to the EPA for reconsideration and denied the petition in all other respects. View "State of Mississippi v. EPA" on Justia Law
Dominion Transmission, Inc. v. Summers, et al.
Seeking to construct a natural gas compressor station in Maryland, Dominion applied for and received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from FERC. The Department subsequently twice refused to process Dominion's application for an air quality permit and Dominion sought expedited review from the court. The court granted Dominion's petition and remanded for further action because the Department's failure to act to grant, condition, or deny Dominion's air quality permit was inconsistent with federal law. View "Dominion Transmission, Inc. v. Summers, et al." on Justia Law
Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA
Environmental groups petitioned for review of the EPA's "Deferral Rule," which deferred regulation of biogenic carbon dioxide for three years. The EPA justified this Deferral Rule on the basis of the de minimis, one-step-at-a-time, and administrative necessity doctrine. Concluding that the dispute was ripe for review, the court rejected the EPA's use of the de minimus doctrine where EPA expressly disavowed this doctrine, explaining that the Deferral Rule had a three-year sunset provision whereas the de minimis doctrine was used to establish permanent exemptions; the EPA's invocation of the one-step-at-a-time doctrine was arbitrary and capricious where the EPA failed to explain in the Deferral Rule what "full compliance" with the "statutory mandate" means; the court rejected the administrative necessity doctrine where the EPA rejected a proposed middle-ground option; and the court rejected the absurd results doctrine that the EPA raised for the first time in its brief. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review. View "Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA" on Justia Law