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

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Plaintiffs filed suit claiming that the Secretary's failure to supplement the Federal Coal Management Program's programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) violated both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the Secretary's motion to dismiss, holding that neither NEPA nor the APA required the Secretary to update the PEIS for the Program. Accordingly, the court lacked jurisdiction to compel the Secretary to update the PEIS. View "Western Organization of Resource Councils v. Zinke" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied petitions for review challenging the Amendments to Regional Consistency Regulations adopted by the EPA pursuant to section 7601 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7601. The Amended Regulations were issued in response to the court's decision in National Environmental Development Association's Clean Air Project v. EPA (NEDACAP I), 752 F.3d 999 (D.C. Cir. 2014). The court held that the Amended Regulations reflect permissible and sensible solutions to issues emanating from intercircuit conflicts and agency nonacquiescence. Accordingly, the court deferred to the EPA's reasonable construction of the statute. View "National Environmental Development Association's Clean Air Project v. EPA" on Justia Law

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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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Conservation petitioners challenged the portion of the EPA's Final Rule, which implemented Congress's effort to restore air quality and visibility in certain national parks and wilderness areas (Class I areas), allowing states to treat Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) compliance as a better-than-BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology) alternative. State and Industry petitioners challenged EPA's disapproval of State Implementation Plans (SIPs) relying on the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) as a better-than-BART alternative. The DC Circuit held that conservation petitioners' first main challenge was moot; the attack on EPA's use of presumptive BART was jurisdictionally foreclosed; EPA's rule requires aggregate average improvement, and its comparison of the CSAPR-region Class I areas as well as all Class I areas nationwide was reasonable; and the remaining claims failed. Because the court found no merit in the conservation petitioners' arguments and could afford no relief to the state and industry petitioners, the court denied the petitions. View "Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Sierra Club challenged EPA's reconsideration of rules under the Clean Air Act that govern emissions to toxic pollutants from industrial boilers. The DC Circuit held that EPA did not adequately justify its change of direction on the carbon monoxide limits because it failed to explain how the revised limits would minimize the targeted pollutants to the extent the Act required. The court held, however, that EPA's startup and shutdown work practice standards were permissible because, consistent with the Act, they reasonably approximated what the best performing boilers could achieve. View "Sierra Club v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's final rule that defined when certain hazardous materials were deemed discarded—as opposed to legitimately recycled—and therefore subject to EPA's oversight. In 2017, the DC Circuit upheld some aspects of the rule and vacated others, inviting the parties to consider briefing some of the issues. After reviewing the petitions, the court modified it's 2017 decision in three ways: (1) the court severed and affirmed EPA's removal of the spent catalyst bar from the vacated portions of the "Verified Recyler Exclusion"; (2) the court vacated Factor 4 in its entirety; and (3) the court clarified the regulatory regime that replaced the vacated Factor 4. The court denied the petitions for rehearing in all other respects. View "American Petroleum Institute v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the EPA's final rule that defined when certain hazardous materials were deemed discarded—as opposed to legitimately recycled—and therefore subject to EPA's oversight. In 2017, the DC Circuit upheld some aspects of the rule and vacated others, inviting the parties to consider briefing some of the issues. After reviewing the petitions, the court modified it's 2017 decision in three ways: (1) the court severed and affirmed EPA's removal of the spent catalyst bar from the vacated portions of the "Verified Recyler Exclusion"; (2) the court vacated Factor 4 in its entirety; and (3) the court clarified the regulatory regime that replaced the vacated Factor 4. The court denied the petitions for rehearing in all other respects. View "American Petroleum Institute v. EPA" on Justia Law

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These consolidated petitions challenged the EPA's final rule entitled "Implementation of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan Review Requirements." The DC Circuit granted Environmental Petitioners' petition and vacated as to waiver of the statutory attainment deadlines associated with the 1997 NAAQS; removal of New Source Review and conformity controls from orphan nonattainment areas; grant of permission to states to move anti-backsliding requirements for orphan nonattainment areas to their list of contingency measures based on initial 2008 designations; waiver of the requirement that states adopt outstanding applicable requirements for the revoked 1997 NAAQS; waiver of the 42 U.S.C. 7505a(a) maintenance plan requirement for orphan nonattainment areas; creation of the "redesignation substitute"; creation of an alternative baseline year option; elimination of transportation conformity in orphan maintenance areas; and waiver of the requirement for a second 10-year maintenance plan for orphan maintenance areas. The court denied Environmental Petitioners' petition in all other respects. View "South Coast Air Quality Management District v. EPA" on Justia Law

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The Councils petitioned for review of the Commission's decision to issue a license to Strata to mine uranium in Crook County, Wyoming. The DC Circuit denied the petition and rejected the Councils' claims that the Board was at fault for refusing to migrate Contention No. 4/5A and to admit Contention No. 6, and the Councils' challenge to the final environmental impact statement. The court held that, although the procedure followed by the Commission in this matter was not ideal, the Commission did not violate the National Environmental Procedure Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., nor the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A). Furthermore, the Councils have not identified any substantive flaws in the Commission's decisions. View "Natural Resources Defense Council v. NRC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged Maryland's proposed "Purple Line" light rail project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 49 U.S.C. 5309. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's order directing the preparation of a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and vacated the Record of Decision, holding that the circumstances warranted deference by the court to FTA's (and Maryland's) reasonable, fact-intensive, technical determination that preparation of a SEIS was not required. The court affirmed the district court's order rejecting three challenges to the final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) presented on appeal, holding that the NEPA process adopted by FTA and Maryland for the Purple Line — an enormously complex project involving coordination between multiple government and private actors — fulfilled NEPA's purposes. View "Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail v. FTA" on Justia Law