Ruling on a pipeline project and a mine project, two different federal courts issued decisions Monday affirming limits on the scope of environmental review. The pipeline case was a challenge to Enbridge’s Flanagan South pipeline, designed to transport tar sands crude from Illinois to Oklahoma. The mine case involved Raven Crest Contracting’s Boone North No. 5 coal mine in West Virginia. Neither decision breaks new ground; their significance lies in reaffirming that NEPA analysis should be confined to the scope of the federal agencies’ control over the project in question. These cases encourage federal agencies to fend off demands for broader consideration of social and political issues surrounding major infrastructure projects. (more…)
WE KNOW ENERGY®
Lowell Rothschild and Kevin Ewing
Richard Alonso, Jeff Holmstead, Tim Wilkins and Sandra Snyder
On August 12, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit issued under the Clean Air Act (CAA) by EPA to the Avenal Power Center. Sierra Club v. EPA, No. 11-73342 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2014). The PSD permit authorized the construction of a 600 MW natural gas-fired plant located in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The plant was required to install state-of-the-art pollution controls for all traditionally regulated pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. The Court vacated the PSD permit because it found it was improper for EPA to issue a PSD permit that did not address new CAA requirements that were promulgated by EPA after the application was submitted.
Although EPA has the authority to grandfather pending applications, it must exercise that authority through regulation by setting an effective date for the new regulation which would make the regulation applicable to permit applications submitted after a given date. When EPA does not address grandfathering in its regulations, the court stated that all PSD permits that are not final prior to the effective date of the new rule must be revised to address any new regulatory requirement, even if the permit had already been through the public comment process. The Court implied that any new assessment would likely need to go through a separate public comment process. (more…)
In towns across America, hydraulic fracturing continues to be a hot-button issue, with municipalities in at least twelve states adopting measures to ban hydraulic fracturing altogether on a temporary or permanent basis. Recent developments in Texas, California, and Colorado demonstrate that battles continue over local bans on hydraulic fracturing. (more…)
Bracewell & Giuliani
Category: Air Quality/Climate Change, Courts, Crude and Products, DOE, Electric, Enforcement, Environmental, Litigation, Midstream, National Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG, Offshore, Power, Regional Energy Law, Renewable Energy/Cleantech, Shale Development, Transmission, Upstream Energy
Supreme Court to Determine Whether Agencies Must Undergo Notice and Comment Prior to Changing an InterpretationMonday, June 16, 2014 2:07 pm by Grant MacIntyre and Kevin Ewing
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could have far-ranging implications for agency proclamations that impact the business community. On Monday, June 16, 2014, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Assoc., No. 13-1052. The Supreme Court will address “[w]hether agencies subject to the Administrative Procedure Act are categorically prohibited from revising their interpretative rules unless such revisions are made through notice-and-comment rulemaking.” (more…)
Sandra Snyder, Richard Alonso and Grant MacIntyre
EPA suffered a major loss on May 30 when the D.C. Circuit refused to uphold EPA’s attempt to narrow the ruling in the Summit aggregation case to only the states in the 6th Cir. Reversing more than 20 years of EPA practice, the Summit case directed EPA to refrain from using interdependency or the functional interrelatedness of various sources when making a determination regarding whether to aggregate the emissions from those sources for NSR and Title V permitting purposes.
In December 2012 after the Summit decision was final, EPA issued a memo that said the Agency would only apply the Sixth Circuit’s Summit decision in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan. The memo was challenged by an industry trade association, the National Environmental Development Association (NEDA). (more…)