Articles Posted in Environmental Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment to the Metropolitan Council on LPA's claim that the Council violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal and state laws. In this case the Council is the sole defendant and LPA filed suit prior to a final agency action. The court held that the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear LPA's claim, because Eighth Circuit precedent expressly rejects the viability of a NEPA cause of action outside of the Administrative Procedure Act framework, especially when the only defendant is a state agency. Therefore, LPA has no cause of action through which it could state a plausible claim. The court remanded with instructions to dismiss the case. View "Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis v. The Metropolitan Council" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's finding, on remand, that Dico and Titan violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). The court held that the clear error standard of review governed this appeal and that ample evidence supported the district court's factual findings that defendants intended to dispose the PCB contamination by selling contaminated buildings to SIM. The court affirmed the punitive damages award because it now could affirm the finding that the sale violated CERCLA. The court held that the district court properly held that Dico and Titan were jointly and severally liable for enforcement costs where defendants failed to establish that the harm was divisible. View "United States v. Dico, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental 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

Posted in: Environmental 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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The City of Kennett, Missouri, sued the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the EPA’s approval of a total maximum daily load for Buffalo Ditch. Buffalo Ditch was a stream that ran southwest into Arkansas from the City. The City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant was a point source of pollutants into it. Parts of Buffalo Ditch had been on Missouri’s EPA-approved list of impaired waters since 1994, due to low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO), which supported aquatic life. The final total maximum daily load” (TMDL) set wasteload allocations for pollutants from the Treatment Plant. These wasteload allocations were more stringent than the limited in the City’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The City’s permit was to expire in 2015; in its “Implementation Plan” for point sources, the TMDL stated if it was determined the current water quality criterion for dissolved oxygen was appropriate, the wasteload allocations from the TMDL would be implemented. If not appropriate, and a new dissolved oxygen criterion was promulgated, then new wasteload allocations would be calculated and implemented. Despite this intention, the DO criterion and the TMDL did not change. The City sued, alleging: (1) the EPA exceeded its authority in approving the TMDL; (2) the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously; (3) the EPA failed to provide the required notice and comment. The Eighth Circuit determined the City waived a claim by failing to mention or argue for summary judgment on that claim, and by failing to respond to the EPA's motion for summary judgment on the claim. With respect to its remaining claims and the issue of standing, the City established injury in fact as it would incur costs in complying with any new limits on pollution discharge from its waste water plant. Similarly, because the injury was impending, the City also established redressability, and it had standing to bring this action. Further, the Court determined the case was ripe, and the district court erred in granting the EPA summary judgment based on a lack of standing and ripeness. The EPA argued the City waived its remaining claims by failing to raise them in the administrative process; because it would be beneficial to permit the district court to address this issue in the first instance, the matter was remanded for further proceedings on this question and, if necessary, the merits of those issues. View "City of Kennett v. Env. Prot. Agency" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the Forest Service's determination that an 85-fold increase in predicted drilling in the Ozark–St. Francis National Forests did not require a "correction, supplement, or revision" to the original environmental analysis. The Eighth Circuit dismissed the suit based on lack of jurisdiction, holding that plaintiffs failed to identify any particular member who stands to be harmed by the government action it challenges, and that plaintiffs lack a concrete interest in this dispute. View "Ozark Society v. United States Forest Service" on Justia Law

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The Authority is in development of a diversion project on the Red River with the Corps. In this appeal, the Authority alleged that the district court made numerous errors in granting a preliminary injunction to JPA, prohibiting the Authority's continued construction of a ring levee in communities in North Dakota (OHB ring levee). The court concluded that the district court’s finding of fact that the OHB project is a part of the larger diversion project is not clearly erroneous and broadly supports the district court’s decision to grant the injunction; the district court found adequate procedural harm and harm to the JPA’s specific environmental interests sufficient to support a preliminary injunction; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the balance of harms favored an injunction. The court also concluded that the district court did not err in finding that the dormant Commerce Clause does not preclude JPA’s Minnesota Environmental Procedure Act (MEPA), Minn. R. 4410.3100, claim. Finally, the court concluded that it was permissible for the district court to waive the bond requirement based on its evaluation of public interest in this specific case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Richland/Wilkin Joint Powers v. Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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After Big River, a Nucor competitor, received a permit from ADEQ to construct a new steel recycling and manufacturing facility in Osceola, Arkansas, Nucor filed a citizen suit under the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7475, seeking injunctive relief to stop Big River from constructing or continuing to construct the steel mill. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court concluded that, even though Nucor’s allegations that Big River violated the Arkansas State Implementation Plan (SIP) present a challenge to an “emission standard or limitation” as that term is defined in 42 U.S.C. 7604(f)(4), Nucor has not alleged the repeated or ongoing violations necessary to support a citizen suit under section 7604(a)(1). Accordingly, the district court did not err by concluding that it lacked jurisdiction under section 7604(a)(1). The court also concluded that the district court did not err by finding it lacked jurisdiction under section 7604(a)(3) to entertain Nucor’s allegations that Big River did not meet the requirements to obtain the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit needed to begin construction; the district court did not err by finding that the CAA does not authorize a preconstruction citizen suit against a party that already has obtained a permit; and the district court did not err in barring Nucor’s Title I claims based on the availability of Title V review. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Nucor Steel - AR v. Big River Steel" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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The State of Nebraska petitioned for review after the EPA rejected Nebraska’s best available retrofit technology (BART) determination for Gerald Gentleman Station, substituting a Federal Implementation Plan. Conservation organizations oppose Nebraska's petition and seek review of the EPA's plan. Nebraska Public Power intervened on behalf of the EPA. Given Nebraska’s errors and EPA’s determination that Nebraska’s action was unreasoned, the court denied the petition for review. In this case, the EPA did not exceed its statutory authority in disapproving the BART determination by determining that Nebraska's BART determination for the Station was based on flawed analysis and an unreasonable conclusion. The court also concluded that the EPA properly relied on the Transport Rule for the Station and the EPA did not abuse its discretion in rejecting a geographic enhancement. The court denied the petitions for review. View "State of Nebraska v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law

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Petitioners seek review of the EPA's approval of the Minnesota Regional Haze State Implementation Plan. Specifically, petitioners challenged the EPA's approval of Minnesota's decision to use the Transport Rule in place of source-specific Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART), and Minnesota’s reasonable-progress goals. The court concluded that the EPA’s approval of Minnesota’s reliance on the Transport Rule was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. In this case, the EPA did not rely on factors that Congress did not intend it to consider, did not entirely fail to consider an important aspect of the problem, and did not offer an explanation that runs counter to the evidence before the agency. The court also concluded that the EPA acted rationally within its sphere of expertise when it approved the reasonable-progress goals in the Plan, explaining that Minnesota adequately demonstrated that its progress goals are reasonable. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "National Parks Conservation v. EPA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law