On January 17, 2017, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released proposed amendments to SEQRA - the department's first major revisions to such regulations in more than two decades. The proposed amendments follow recent efforts by the DEC to modernize SEQRA and are intended to streamline the process by, among other things, new environmental assessment forms along with the creation of workbooks and a spatial data platform on DEC's website (EAF Mapper). According to the DEC, the EAF Mapper "enables users in performing environmental assessments to access the same geographic information relied on by DEC staff.expanding the list of Type II actions that are not subject to SEQRA review."
In a 2-1 ruling, the Second Circuit reversed Southern District Judge Kenneth Karas, who had found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "Water Transfers Rule" was an unreasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act. Writing for the majority and leaning on the EPA's reasoning, Circuit Judge Robert Sack wrote that the "Water Transfers Rule is based on a reasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act and therefore entitled to Chevron deference."
The U.S. Supreme Court has recently declined to consider a case centering on the question of when a citizens' group may challenge an ongoing environmental remediation under the federal Superfund law. The Court's decision lets stand a May 2014 ruling by the Seventh Circuit that chipped away at Superfund's general prohibition on legal challenges to ongoing removal or remedial actions.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has lifted a nearly three-year-old stay on EPA's Cross State Air Pollution Rule ("CSAPR"), a contentious rule designed to regulate air pollution that is generated in certain states and drifts downwind to others. EPA promises that CSAPR will create billions of dollars in public health benefits, but a number of states and industry groups maintain that the rule is too onerous.
A marine transfer station operated on the East River at 91st Street for nearly six decades, temporarily storing municipal waste along the East River before loading it onto barges for disposal outside of Manhattan. But in 2004, the New York City announced plans to build a newer, larger MTS on the site as part of a new City-wide Solid Waste Management Plan. The City wanted to move even farther away from its reliance on expensive and environmentally unfriendly truck-based disposal methods, but the proposal for East 91st Street quickly became embroiled in years of litigation.
In environmental law, things aren't always what they seem at first blush. Hence, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, 134 S. Ct. 1050 (2014) in June, both industry and EPA claimed victory. Given that the Court struck down EPA's interpretation of its authority under two specific provisions of the Clean Air Act, how could EPA claim a win?
How easily can a significant expansion in jurisdiction be called just a "clarification" of existing jurisdiction? On April 21, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers published a proposed rule that promises to significantly change federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. While EPA Administrator Gina McCarty has described the proposed rule as merely a clarification of existing EPA authority, if finalized, it will likely expand CWA permit requirements to include minor tributaries and even seasonal waters such as vernal pools as "waters of the United States."
EPA has just extended to tenants the Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser ("BFPP") protection, by which Congress previously exempted certain prospective owners from harsh Superfund liability. Even where the landlord loses its BFPP protection, the new EPA enforcement guidance memo allows tenants to hold onto it, assuming the tenant can meet certain requirements.
Beginning in the winter of 2006-2007, bees began to die in - or simply disappear from - commercial hives around the US. Increasing numbers of beekeepers since then reported similar disappearances of bees, and the phenomenon became known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. While the exact causes of CCD are unknown, beekeepers and environmental groups have argued that the losses are due to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide that is taken up by plants and stored in tissues as the plant grows and develops. Here's why even the pesticide manufacturers are now taking the problem seriously.
The Supreme Court of the United States has just unanimously ruled that administrative orders issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") under section 319 of the Clean Water Act ("CWA") are "final agency actions" subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"). Sackett v. United States EPA, 566 U.S. ____ (2012).