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In this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding, the Court of Appeals held that the Appellate Division erred in foreclosing the possibility that title 9 of article 27 of the Environmental Conservation Law authorized the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) action unilaterally remediating the significant threat posed by hazardous wastes FMC Corporation (FMC) had released into neighboring properties. Moreover, the Court held that the interpretation of title 13 of article 27 adopted by both parties authorized DEC’s unilateral remediation effort, and therefore, any disputes over title 9 need not be resolved. View "FMC Corp. v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for NPS, in an action alleging violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706, in establishing the boundaries of the Niobrara Scenic River Area (NSRA), both generally and with respect to his property. The court held that NPS engaged in a methodical, time-consuming boundary-drawing process, and it used the appropriate statutory standard to identify oustandingly remarkable values and it drew a boundary line that sought to protect those values. Furthermore, there was no evidence in the record that would lead the court to conclud that NPS subjected plaintiff to disparate treatment or acted in bad faith. View "Simmons v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Westside in an action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. The panel held that Westside, a defendant who buys real property at a tax sale, did not have a "contractual relationship" with the previous owner of the property within the meaning of CERCLA. The panel reasoned that the previous owner caused contamination "in connection with" its contractual relationship with Westside and thus Westside was not entitled to CERCLA's third-party defense. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Cal. DTSC v. Westside Delivery, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit alleging that the Corps violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in issuing permit and exemption determinations to a real property owner. The permits and exemptions allowed the owner to construct a road by dredging and filling portions of Enemy Swim Lake. With one exception, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Tribe's claims. The court held that the 2010 letter issued by the Corp did not constitute a final agency action for purposes of the permit and exemption determinations, and that the Tribe's recapture claim was a nonjusticiable enforcement action; the Tribe was not eligible for equitable tolling in this case; the Corps did not act arbitrarily and capriciously by determining that the owner's 2009 project qualified for a nationwide permit; and the court did not have appellate jurisdiction to address the lawfulness of the Corps's NHPA regulations. View "Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation v. U.S. Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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This case involved an order of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that granted Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company pre-approval to install pollution-control devices at one of its power plants. The order raised two issues: (1) whether res judicata precluded the Commission from pre-approving OG&E's capital expenditure; and (2) whether the Commission could grant pre-approval under Okla. Const. art. 9, section 181 and 17 O.S. 2011 sec. 151 et seq. rather than 17 O.S. 2011 sec. 286(B). The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that although res judicata did not preclude the Commission from pre-approving the expenditure, it lacked authority outside of 17 O.S. 2011 sec. 286(B)2 to do so. View "Sierra Club v. Oklahoma Corporation Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Appellants challenged the trial court's order and judgment dismissing appellants' petition for writ of mandate and complaint. At issue was whether Proposition 65's reliance on the International Agency for Research on Cancer to identify known carcinogens violated various provisions and doctrines of the California and United States Constitutions. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, rejecting appellants' arguments that the Labor Code listing mechanism violated article II, section 12 of the California Constitution, because the Agency did not qualify as a private corporation under the constitutional provision; that the Labor Code listing mechanism was an unlawful delegation of authority; that the Labor Code listing mechanism violated procedural due process rights; and that the Labor Code listing mechanism violated the Guarantee Clause of the United States Constitution. View "Monsanto Co. v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment" on Justia Law

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The District 5 Commission denied Korrow Real Estate LLC’s as-built application for an Act 250 permit to construct a barn on property alongside the Dog and Stony Brook Rivers, finding the project failed to comply with Act 250 Criteria 1(D) and 1(F). In doing so, the Commission construed key terms as defined by the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). On appeal, the Environmental Division reversed the decision and remanded the matter to the Commission with instructions to grant an as-built permit for the project. The Vermont Natural Resources Board appealed the decision, arguing the court failed to accord proper deference to the ANR’s statutory authority and expertise, and that the project failed to comply with the necessary Act 250 permitting criteria. The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. The Supreme Court found the ANR determined the Korrow project was within the Act 250 “floodway” based on the project’s location relative to the FEH area surrounding the Dog and Stony Brook Rivers. The Environmental Division erred when it determined that the methodology applied by Korrow’s expert, or the methodology of the court, was superior to that employed by the ANR. In applying the ANR definition, the Supreme Court found Korrow’s project was within the “floodway” under 10 V.S.A. 6001(6), triggering analysis of project compliance with Act 250 Criterion 1(D). Even though the court erroneously found that the project was located outside the “floodway,” there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that the project complied with Criterion 1(D). With respect to Criterior 1(F), the Supreme Court found two flaws in the lower court’s findings: (1) interpreting the scope of land “adjacent” to the rivers was essential to determining whether a project was on a “shoreline,” no definition of “adjacent” was provided; and (2) even applying the court’s contextual, rather than distance-based, analysis of the project’s location in relation to the Dog and Stony Brook Rivers, the court’s conclusion that the project was not on the “shoreline” was based on insufficient evidence. The Supreme Court could not determine, based on the trial court record, whether the project at issue here was constructed on a “shoreline” and, if so, whether the project complied with the subcriteria required by statute. As such, the Environmental Division’s conclusion that the project complied with Criterion 1(F) was reversed and this issue remanded to the court for further findings. Because the question of what was meant by “adjacent” was critical to the shoreline determination and had not been briefed or argued, the parties were directed upon remand to brief this issue for the court. The Supreme Court reversed the Environmental Division’s ruling defining the term “floodway,” but affirmed its conclusion that the project complied with Criterion 1(D). The Court reversed and remanded to the Environmental Division for further proceedings to determine whether this project involved a “shoreline” and, if so, the project’s compliance with Criterion 1(F). View "In re Korrow Real Estate, LLC Act 250 Permit Amendment Application" on Justia Law

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There was personal jurisdiction over Exxon Mobil Corporation with respect to the Attorney General’s investigation into whether Exxon knew, long before the general public, that emissions from fossil fuels contributed to climate change and whether the company sought to undermine the evidence of climate change in order to preserve its value as a company. Based on her authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 6, the Attorney General issued a civil investigative demand (CID) to Exxon Mobil Corporation seeking information and documents relating to Exxon’s knowledge of and activities related to climate change. Exxon moved to set aside or modify the CID, arguing that it was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts, that the Attorney General should be disqualified for bias, that the CID violated Exxon’s statutory and constitutional rights, and that the case should be stayed pending a ruling on Exxon’s request for relief in federal court. A superior court denied the motion and allowed the Attorney General’s cross motion to compel Exxon to comply with the CID. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) there was personal jurisdiction over Exxon; and (2) the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in denying Exxon’s requests to set aside the CID, disqualify the Attorney General, and issue a stay. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Contra Costa County certified an environmental impact report (EIR) and approved a land use permit for a “Propane Recovery Project” at a Rodeo oil refinery owned and operated by Phillips 66. The trial court ordered the county to set aside the certification of the EIR and approval of the land use permit and to correct specified inadequacies in the EIR in the analysis of air quality issues. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting arguments by project opponents that the trial court erred in rejecting its additional arguments that the project description and the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental hazards failed to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code 21000). With respect to the description, the court noted substantial evidence that Phillips’ propane recovery project is independent of any purported change in the crude oil feedstock used at the Refinery and will not increase its present capacity to refine heavier crude oils. View "Rodeo Citizens Association. v. County of Contra Costa" on Justia Law

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In 2014, several hundred thousand gallons of gasoline spilled from a rupture in an underground pipeline near Belton, South Carolina. The gasoline seeped into nearby waterways. Following a cleanup, at least 160,000 gallons allegedly remained unrecovered. Plaintiffs allege that the gasoline has continued to travel a distance of 1000 feet or less from the pipeline to Browns Creek and Cupboard Creek, which are tributaries of the Savannah River, and their adjacent wetlands Conservation groups brought a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251–1387, alleging violations by polluting "navigable waters of the United States" without a permit and seeking relief to remediate the ongoing pollution. The district court held that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the pipeline has been repaired and the pollutants currently pass through groundwater to reach “navigable waters.” The Fourth Circuit vacated. Citizens may bring suit under 33 U.S.C. 1365(a) for discharges of pollutants that derive from a “point source,” defined as “any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, [or] container” and continue to be “added” to navigable waters. Plaintiffs have stated a valid claim for a discharge under the Act. View "Upstate Forever v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P." on Justia Law