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Grist Creek owns property in Mendocino County on which it has aggregate and asphalt processing operations. The County Air Quality Management District approved a permit to construct a “Crumb Rubber Heating and Blending Unit” for the production of rubberized asphalt, on the property. The District Hearing Board’s four members who considered an appeal split evenly on their vote; the Board stated no further action would be taken, leaving the permit in place. Oponents filed a petition for writ of administrative mandate, claiming that Grist Creek should have conducted an environmental review and that the District and Hearing Board violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA, Pub. Resources Code, 21000) and District regulations by failing to require one. The trial court dismissed the action against the Board with leave to amend, finding the tie vote was not a decision, so there was nothing to review. The court of appeals reversed. The Board’s tie vote, in this context, resulted in the denial of the administrative appeal, subject to judicial review. View "Grist Creek Aggregates, LLC v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Respondents filed an amended complaint joining separate claims of seventy-nine individual plaintiffs, who alleged that they or their family members were injured by exposure to Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) generated at the General James M. Gavin Power Plant and disposed of at the associated Gavin Landfill (collectively, Gavin Landfill). Twelve plaintiffs (the NWDC Plaintiffs) alleged that they suffered injury as a result of take-home exposure to CCR. The Mass Litigation Panel (MLP) denied Petitioners’ motion to dismiss the claims of the NWDC Plaintiffs, concluding that the doctrine of lex loci delicti required the application of Ohio law to the claims of the NWDC Plaintiffs. The court further found that the application of the Ohio Mixed Dust Statute was contrary to the public policy of West Virginia and, applying West Virginia’s public policy exception to the rule of lex loci delicti, declined to apply Ohio law to the NWDC Plaintiffs’ claims. The Supreme Court granted Petitioners’ requested writ of prohibition, holding that the MLP’s application of the public policy exception to the doctrine of lex loci delicti was clearly erroneous in this case, and therefore, under Ohio’s Mixed Dust Statute, Petitioners’ motion to dismiss should have been granted as to the twelve NWDC Plaintiffs. View "State ex rel. American Electric Power Co. v. Hon. Derek C. Swope" on Justia Law

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This dispute involved two water rights claims filed by the City of Helena for the waters of Tenmile Creek, which passes through Rimini. Andy Skinner owned junior water rights on Tenmile Creek. Both Skinner and the Community of Rimini objected to Helena’s water right claims. On remand, the water judge adopted the Water Master’s finding that the City had abandoned 7.35 cubic feet per second (cfs) of its water rights claims but that the City did not intend to abandon the 7.35 cfs. The water court also found that the City abandoned 0.60 cfs in the Rimini Pipeline. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-227(4), as applied to the City’s water rights claim, is not impermissibly retroactive; (2) the water court did not err in reinstating 7.35 cfs of Helena’s Tenmile Creek water rights; (3) the water court erred in determining that the City had abandoned 0.60 cfs of its Tenmile Creek water rights; and (4) the water court did not err in imposing specific place of use restrictions on Helena’s decreed Tenmile Creek water rights. View "City of Helena v. Community of Rimini" on Justia Law

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The Water District appealed from the district court's judgment in a consolidated multidistrict litigation granting summary judgment to BP and Shell on the ground that the Water District's suit was barred by res judicata arising from 2002 and 2005 settlements. Claims against BP and Shell for MTBE contamination had been brought by the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) in 1999 and were settled in 2002 and 2005 respectively. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the Water District's claims against BP and Shell, holding that the Water District and OCDA were not in privity. View "In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBA) Products Liability Litigation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought this action under the Administrative Procedure Act seeking review of two biological opinions (BiOps) issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) evaluating requested modifications of existing licenses to operate four hydropower dams on the Kennebec River in Maine. FERC was required to obtain BiOps from the Fisheries Service on whether operating the dams under the proposed license modifications would jeopardize survival of the salmon species. The Fisheries Service issued an “incidental take statement,” finding that the proposed modifications would result in the incidental taking of individual fish among the protected population. Plaintiffs, environmental organizations participating in the licensing proceedings, challenged the statements. While the case was pending, FERC granted the license modifications. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that circumstances eliminated whatever claims of district court jurisdiction to review the BiOps Plaintiffs might have raised when this action was filed. View "Maine Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation v. National Marine Fisheries Service" on Justia Law

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In 2004, the District filed this lawsuit against a number of defendants to address current and threatened groundwater contamination in the North Basin. In its operative first amended complaint (FAC), the District alleged each defendant owned or operated one or more industrial sites in northern Orange County where hazardous wastes (i.e., VOC's) had been released into the environment. The release of hazardous wastes had caused or threatened to cause contamination in groundwater within the District's geographic area. The District sought compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees, costs, an order finding defendants liable for the full cost of remediation, an order declaring the contamination a nuisance and compelling defendants to abate it, and any other proper relief. Defendants cross-complained against the District for, among other things, a declaration of no liability. The trial court found in favor of defendants, and against the District, on its claims under the Orange County Water District Act (OCWD) and the Carpenter-PresleyTanner Hazardous Substances Account Act (HSAA) and for declaratory relief. The court found that each defendant was "entitled to a judicial declaration that it has no liability to the District for damages, response costs, or other costs claimed by the District, or any future costs associated with the NBGPP." The court found that the District's claims for negligence, nuisance, and trespass required the District to establish causation as to each defendant. Given the court's causation findings in its statement of decision, it found that the District could not prevail on its claims. The Court of Appeal reversed in part as to: (1) District's cause of action against Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation under the OCWD Act; and (2) the declaration finding no liability in favor of Northrop. The Court of Appeal remanded for the trial court to reexamine the relevant evidence, receive such additional evidence as the court deemed necessary and appropriate, make new findings of fact and conclusions of law concerning the issues subject to reversal, and enter judgment accordingly. In all other respects, the judgment was affirmed. View "Orange County Water Dist. v. Alcoa Global Fasteners" on Justia Law

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In 2004, the District filed this lawsuit against MAG and several other defendants to address current and threatened groundwater contamination in northern Orange County. In its operative first amended complaint (FAC), the District alleged that MAG owned and operated an industrial site at 1300 East Valencia Drive in Fullerton, California (the Valencia site). The District alleged that MAG and other owners and operators at the Valencia site released hazardous wastes there, including the volatile organic compound PCE (tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethylene). The release of hazardous waste had caused or threatened to cause contamination to groundwater within the District's geographic area. The District alleged injury in the form of investigation and remediation costs to address this contamination and threatened contamination, as well as the ongoing threat to public health, natural resources, and the environment posed by the hazardous waste releases. In appealing the grant of summary judgment in favor of MAG, the District argued: (1) the trial court erred during the bench trial by granting MAG's motion for judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 631.8 on the District's HSAA claim; (2) the trial court erred under Code of Civil Procedure section 1048, subdivision (b) by scheduling a bench trial on the District's equitable claims before a jury trial on the District's legal claims, thereby depriving the District of its right to trial by jury; (3) the trial court erred by granting declaratory relief in favor of MAG in the absence of a request by MAG; and (4) the trial court erred by applying Evidence Code section 412 to discount the conclusions of the District's expert witness. Finding no reason to disturb the trial court’s judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Orange County Water Dist. v. MAG Aerospace Industries" on Justia Law

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The circuit court affirmed the Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee’s denial of a conditional use permit application for non-metallic mineral mining submitted by AllEnergy Corporation and allEnergy Silica, Arcadia, LLC (collectively, AllEnergy). The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Committee applied the factors and considerations set forth in the applicable ordinance and thus kept within its jurisdiction in denying AllEnergy’s application for a conditional use permit; (2) there is substantial evidence to support the Committee’s decision to deny AllEnergy a conditional use permit; and (3) this court does not adopt the new legal doctrine urged by AllEnergy that a conditional use permit applicant is entitled to the permit under certain conditions. View "AllEnergy Corp. v. Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee" on Justia Law

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This case concerned residual pollutant discharges from public fireworks displays over the waters of the United States within the jurisdiction of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region (the Regional Board), which included a large portion of San Diego County, portions of south Orange County, and the southwestern portion of Riverside County (San Diego Region). The Regional Board approved a general permit for public displays of fireworks over the region's surface waters. Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF) appealed the trial court's denial of its petition for writ of mandamus challenging the approval of the Fireworks Permit. CERF contended: (1) the trial court applied the wrong standard of review in denying its petition, (2) the Fireworks Permit violates federal law regarding water quality monitoring, and (3) the Fireworks Permit violated prohibitions in the State Water Resources Control Board's 2009 California Ocean Plan concerning discharges in areas of special biological significance (ASBS). After review, the Court of Appeal rejected CERF's arguments and affirmed the judgment. View "Coastal Environ. Rights v. Cal. Reg. Wat. Quality Control Bd." on Justia Law

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When ARB's adoption of low carbon fuel standards (LCFS) regulations in 2009 violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Court of Appeal directed the issuance of a writ of mandate compelling ARB to take corrective action. At issue in this appeal was whether ARB's actions satisfied the writ and corrected one of its CEQA violations. The court concluded that the writ should not have been discharged and the CEQA violation continues uncorrected. Pursuant to the court's discretionary authority to fashion appellate relief, the court reversed the order discharging the writ and remanded for further proceedings under a modified writ. The modifications direct ARB to address NOx emissions from biodiesel in a manner that complies with CEQA, including the use of a proper baseline. View "Poet, LLC v. State Air Resources Bd." on Justia Law