Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the Park Service's decision authorizing recreational hunting of elk in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. In regards to plaintiffs' claim under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321, the DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Park Service. The court held that all the environmental effects seen during the years after the promulgation of the 2007 Plan and environmental impact study (EIS) had been anticipated and analyzed in the original environmental assessment, and thus the Park Service had no duty to prepare a supplemental or new EIS; plaintiffs failed to show that the Park Service acted arbitrarily or capriciously; and the Park Service has implemented the elk-reduction program in the manner envisioned by the 2007 Plan and analyzed in the 2007 EIS. Finally, the court vacated the district court's judgment in regard to the claim under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 50 C.F.R. pt. 17, based on mootness grounds because the grizzly bear was no longer listed as a threatened species under the ESA. View "Mayo v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit dismissed the petition for review of the EPA's modification, without notice and comment, of prior understandings of how to measure a proposed transportation project’s impact on ambient levels of PM2.5 and PM10. PM2.5 is particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter and PM10 is particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter. In regard to PM2.5, the court held that it lacked standing because petitioners have shown no instance where the change would be likely to have any adverse effect on them or their members. In regard to PM10, the court held that the EPA's new provisions were not binding on the agency or affected parties and therefore did not constitute a final action within the meaning of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7607(b)(1). View "Sierra Club v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Sierra Club challenged the Department's grant of an application to export liquified natural gas (LNG) using terminals and liquefaction facilities (Freeport Terminal) on Quintana Island. On the merits, the DC Circuit held that the Department did not fail to fulfill its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by declining to make specific projections about environmental impacts stemming from specific levels of export-induced gas production; the Department did not fail to fulfill its obligations with respect to the potential for the U.S. electric power sector to switch from gas to coal in response to higher gas prices; the court rejected Sierra Club's challenges to the Department's examination of the potential greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from the indirect effects of exports; and Sierra Club has given the court no reason to question the Department's judgment that the FLEX application was not inconsistent with the public interest. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Sierra Club v. DOE" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged whether EPA had statutory authority to issue a 2015 Rule regulating the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). As statutory authority for the 2015 Rule, EPA relied on Section 612 of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7671k, which requires manufacturers to replace ozone-depleting substances with safe substitutes. The DC Circuit held that the fundamental problem for EPA was that HFCs were not ozone-depleting substances. Because EPA's novel reading of Section 612 was inconsistent with the statute as written, the court vacated the 2015 Rule to the extent it required manufacturers to replace HFCs and remanded for further proceedings. View "Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the Service's revamping of the territorial lines of the Devil's Garden Wild Horse Territory section of the Modoc National Forest violated numerous federal laws. The D.C. Circuit held that the Service's decision to eliminate the Middle Section of the Wild Horse Territory Plan was arbitrary and capricious in two respects: (1) the Service failed to acknowledge and adequately explain its change in policy regarding the management of wild horses in the Middle Section as part of a single, contiguous protected Wild Horse Territory, and (2) the Service failed to consider adequately whether an Environmental Impact Statement was required under the National Environmental Policy Act. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in part and remanded for further consideration. View "American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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The Human Society challenged a rule that removes from federal protection a sub-population of gray wolves inhabiting all or portions of nine states in the Western Great Lakes region of the United States. The Human Society alleged that the rule violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court's decision vacating the rule, holding that the government failed to reasonably analyze or consider two significant aspects of the rule: the impacts of partial delisting and of historical range loss on the already listed species. View "Humane Society v. Zinke" on Justia Law

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Petitioners filed suit challenging EPA's promulgation of a Final Rule setting several renewable fuel requirements for the years 2014 through 2017. The D.C. Circuit rejected all challenges except for one: the court agreed with Americans for Clean Energy that EPA erred in how it interpreted the "inadequate domestic supply" waiver provision. The court held that the "inadequate domestic supply" provision authorizes EPA to consider supply-side factors affecting the volume of renewable fuel that is available to refiners, blenders, and importers to meet the statutory volume requirements. It does not allow EPA to consider the volume of renewable fuel that is available to ultimate consumers or the demand-side constraints that affect the consumption of renewable fuel by consumers. Accordingly, the court granted Americans for Clean Energy's petition for review of the Final Rule, vacated EPA's decisions to reduce the total renewable fuel volume requirements for 2016 through use of its "inadequate domestic supply" waiver authority, and remanded for further consideration. View "Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Sierra Club petitioned for review of EPA's determination that EPA satisfied its responsibilities under 42 U.S.C. 7412(c)(6) to establish "maximum achievable control technology" (MACT) standards for emissions of certain hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The DC Circuit held that the petition was timely and EPA did not adequately respond to petitioners' comments raising the issues concerning the use of surrogacy in the administrative proceedings. Accordingly, the court denied EPA's motion to dismiss and ordered the matter remanded to EPA for further proceedings. View "Sierra Club v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Environmental and Industry Petitioners challenged the EPA's promulgation of a final rule, pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. 6901-6992k, governing when certain hazardous materials qualify as "discarded" and are thus subject to the agency's regulatory authority. The D.C. Circuit upheld Factor 3; vacated Factor 4 insofar as it applied to all hazardous secondary materials via 40 C.F.R. 261.2(g); vacated the Verified Recycler Exclusion except for its emergency preparedness provisions and its expanded containment requirement; and reinstated the Transfer-Based Exclusion. Consequently, the removal of the Transfer-Based Exclusion's bar on spent catalysts was vacated, subject to such arguments as the parties may raise supporting a different outcome. View "American Petroleum Institute v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's decision to stay implementation of portions of a final rule concerning methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. The DC Circuit held that, although absent a stay, it would have no authority to review the agency's decision to grant reconsideration, because EPA chose to impose a stay suspending the rule's compliance deadlines, the court must review its reconsideration decision to determine whether the stay was authorized under section 307(d)(7)(B) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7607(d)(7)(B). The court also held that the 90-day stay was unauthorized by section 307(d)(7)(B) and was thus unreasonable. View "Clean Air Council v. Pruitt" on Justia Law