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The Fourth Circuit granted petitions for review of the BLM's decision granting a right of way through federal land for construction and operation of a pipeline proposed by MVP, and the Forest Service's decision to amend the Jefferson National Forest Land Resource Management Plan to accommodate the right of way and pipeline construction. The court held that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by adopting an environmental impact statement (EIS) without undertaking the required independent review of the EIS's sedimentation analysis. Because the Forest Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously, the court remanded for further explanation. The court deferred to the agencies conclusions on the issue of forest effects and rejected petitioners' claims as to the Draft EIS. However, in regard to petitioners' claims under the National Forest Management Act, the court held that the requirements in the 2012 Planning Rule were directly related to the instant Forest Service amendments to the Jefferson Forest Plan and the Forest Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously in concluding otherwise. Therefore, the court remanded to the Forest Service for proper application of the Planning Rule soil and riparian requirements to the Forest Plan amendment. Finally, the court held that the BLM failed to acknowledge its obligations under the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sierra Club v. USFS" on Justia Law

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The Network petitioned for a writ of mandate to compel the County to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before issuing well permits. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the petition on demurrer, holding that the well permits were ministerial actions under Chapter 8.40 of the San Luis Obispo County Code exempt from review under CEQA. The court reasoned that, if an applicant meets fixed standards, the County must issue a well permit. On the other hand, the ordinance did not require use of personal or subjective judgment by County officials. Therefore, there was no discretion to be exercised and CEQA was inapplicable. View "CA Water Impact Network v. County of San Luis Obispo" on Justia Law

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LandWatch filed a petition for writ of administrative mandate, alleging that the District, in approving an emergency water supply project, failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). LandWatch elected to prepare the administrative record, but the District ended up preparing the record. After the District prevailed, it moved for costs that included the costs of preparing the administrative record and an appendix. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's finding that the agency acted properly in preparing the record and appendix and held that the trial court had the discretion to award the agency costs for preparing the record notwithstanding the petitioner's election under Public Resources Code 21167.6, subdivision (b)(2). Finally, the court held that the trial court did not err by awarding fees for the appendix and for fees to CourtCall for 12 telephonic appearances. View "LandWatch San Luis Obispo County v. Cambria Community Services District" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged FERC's approval of an application from Algonquin to undertake an upgrade to its natural gas pipeline system. The DC Circuit dismissed the Delegation's petition for review for lack of jurisdiction because the Delegation failed to establish that it had standing to seek review of the Commission's decision where its individual members did not suffer an injury in fact from the pipeline project. The court held that the remaining petitioners adequately demonstrated standing and thus reached the merits of their petitions. On the merits, the court held that the Commission did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in declining to consider Algonquin's three projects in a single environmental impact statement. The court explained that, for purposes of the AIM Project, the Commission adequately considered the cumulative impacts of the other two projects based on the information then available to the agency. The court also held that the Commission gave adequate consideration to the cumulative environmental impacts of the three upgrade projects. View "City of Boston Delegation v. FERC" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Oregon Supreme Court reviewed a final order of the Department of State Lands (DSL) that granted a permit to the Port of Coos Bay (Port) in connection with the construction of a deep water marine terminal in Coos Bay. The permit allowed the Port to dredge 1.75 million cubic yards of material from the bay, while also imposing a number of conditions to address environmental concerns. Petitioners were environmental advocacy groups who argued the Port’s application did not meet the requirements for issuing a permit set out in ORS 196.825. An Administrative Law Judge held a contested case hearing and rejected petitioners’ arguments. DSL reviewed the conclusions of the ALJ and issued a final order affirming the permit. The Court of Appeals affirmed DSL’s final order. Petitioners contended DSL erred in failing to consider evidence of certain negative effects of the construction and operation of the terminal in the permit application review process. The Oregon Supreme Court held DSL properly considered the criteria set out in ORS 196.825 and did not err in granting the permit. View "Coos Waterkeeper v. Port of Coos Bay" on Justia Law

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Alliance filed suit against Federal Defendants to enjoin implementation of the East Reservoir Project on the Kootenai National Forest in northwest Montana. While this appeal was pending, the Forest Service reinitiated consultation with the FWS and subsequently issued a new biological opinion for the Lynx Amendment, completing a reconsultation process. Therefore, the panel rejected Alliance's assertion that the Forest Service's decision to approve the Project was arbitrary and capricious because it improperly relied on the Lynx Amendment in determining the impact of Project activities on lynx and lynx critical habitat. The panel dismissed the claim and remanded to the district court with directions to vacate the part of its summary judgment ruling that addressed this lynx related claim and to dismiss it as moot. However, the panel held that Alliance was entitled to summary judgment on its claim that the Forest Service failed to comply with the Motorized Vehicle Access Act (Access Amendments). In this case, the Forest Service's failure to analyze whether the Project will increase the total linear miles of permanent roads within the Tobacco BORZ polygon (the overlapping area in which Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears were sometimes found) beyond the baseline did not satisfy the plain terms of the Access Amendments and was therefore arbitrary and capricious. The panel reversed the district court's judgment as to this claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Savage" on Justia Law

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Robert Ukeiley owned property in Lamar, Colorado and suffered from a lung condition worsened by airborne particulates. Lamar experiences many windy days, and the resulting dust storms generate airborne particulate pollution that affects its residents. Due to this pollution, between the early 1990s and 2005 the Environmental Protection Agency designated Lamar as a nonattainment area under the Clean Air Act. To achieve attainment, Lamar needed to comply with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (Standards) promulgated by the EPA. The Standards impose a variety of regulatory requirements designed to reduce the exposure of the public to dangerous levels of airborne pollutants. To achieve compliance with the Standards, Colorado developed a state implementation plan in 1994. In 2002, Colorado requested the EPA to redesignate the Lamar area as an attainment area and submitted a ten-year maintenance plan to demonstrate expected compliance through 2015. The EPA approved the plan in 2005 and redesignated Lamar as an attainment area. In 2013, as part of its requirement for achieving attainment, Colorado submitted its second proposed ten-year maintenance plan for the Lamar area. Along with its submission, Colorado asked the EPA to exclude a number of days in which Lamar’s airborne pollutants exceeded the Standards. The EPA concurred on the request for some of the days and approved the plan in 2016. Ukeiley challenged that 2016 approval in his petition for review by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. He contended the EPA abused its discretion by granting Colorado’s request to exclude certain instances in which airborne dust exceeded the Standards. The Tenth Circuit concluded the EPA did not err in approving Colorado’s maintenance plan, holding the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act and its application of that interpretation were correct. Furthermore, the Court held the EPA’s regulations, related guidance, and the extensive administrative record all supported the EPA’s decision. Therefore, the Court denied Ukeiley’s petition for review. View "Ukeiley v. Env. Protection Agy." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of EPA's final rule promulgated under section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, establishing requirements for cooling water intake structures at existing facilities, as well as a biological opinion jointly issued by the Services at the close of formal Endangered Species Act consultation on the rule. The court held that the final rule and the biological opinion were based on reasonable interpretations of the applicable statutes and sufficiently supported the factual record. The court also held that EPA gave adequate notice of its rulemaking. The court considered petitioners' remaining arguments and held that they were without merit. View "Cooling Water Intake Structure Coal. v. EPA" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied the government's petition for a writ of mandamus, asking the court to direct the district court to dismiss a case seeking various environmental remedies, or to stay all discovery and trial. The court denied the government's first mandamus petition, concluding that it had not met the high bar for relief at that stage of the litigation. The court held that no new circumstances justified the second petition where the government failed to satisfy the Bauman factors at this stage of the litigation, because the government's fear of burdensome or improper discovery did not warrant mandamus relief in the absence of a single specific discovery order; the government's arguments as to the violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and the separation of powers failed to establish that they would suffer prejudice not correctable in a future appeal; and the merits of the case could be resolved by the district court or in a future appeal. View "United States v. United States District Court for the District of Oregon" on Justia Law

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Once the NRC determines there is a significant deficiency in its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, it may not permit a project to continue in a manner that puts at risk the values NEPA protects simply because no intervenor can show irreparable harm.The DC Circuit granted a petition for review in part of the Commission's grant of a license to Powertech to construct a uranium mining project in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The court held that the Commission's decision violated NEPA where the Commission conditioned enforcement of NEPA on a showing of irreparable harm by the Tribe, but lacked an adequate environmental analysis when it first issued the license and the significant NEPA deficiencies identified by the Board remained unaddressed at the time of the Commission's decision. The court further held that it did not have jurisdiction to review the bulk of the rulings challenged by the Tribe because the Commission's order did not end the agency proceedings as to all issues. View "Oglala Sioux Tribe v. NRC" on Justia Law