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The Week Ahead

The Supreme Court is scheduled this week to consider whether to take up two key environmental cases in its next term. Meanwhile, two House committees have scheduled hearings on climate resiliency and the compounding effects of climate change, social injustice and COVID-19.

Supreme Court

The high court justices will consider at their Sept. 29 conference whether to take up the oil industry’s push to overturn an appellate decision allowing Baltimore’s climate nuisance case to proceed in state court. The legal sparring before the high court comes amid a string of victories by local governments in their attempt to keep a wave of climate nuisance litigation in state courts, which are considered a more favorable venue for plaintiffs.

The justices will also weigh whether to accept an original jurisdiction petition from Montana and Wyoming that argues Washington state’s denial of a Clean Water Act water quality certification for a coal export terminal violates the Constitution’s Dormant Commerce Clause and Foreign Commerce Clause.

The Environmental Law Institute Oct. 1 will hold its annual Supreme Court review and preview offering an overview of key rulings and major takeaways from the court’s last term and looking at cases that have been granted review or are likely to be considered by the justices in the upcoming term.

House Climate Hearings

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s environment panel is holding a hearing Sept. 30 on coping with the compound crises of extreme weather, social injustice and a global pandemic.

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hearing Oct. 1 titled “Creating a Climate Resilient America: Strengthening the U.S. Financial System and Expanding Economic Opportunity”. The hearing will explore the ways that the climate crisis exacerbates economic harm and injustice, and identify strategies to strengthen financial systems and enhance access to capital to support community resilience and economic recovery.

Environmental Justice

The links between climate change and environmental justice are also the focus of a Sept. 30 American Bar Association webinar on human rights and climate change. The webinar will review leading climate change cases and the strategies lawyers use to seek and obtain environmental justice from the courts.

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Oct. 1 on H.R. 5986, which would establish an Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice Compliance and Enforcement.

Also on Oct. 1, the Environmental Law Institute is hosting a webinar titled Pesticides, Farmworkers, Industry, and Environmental Justice.


The Army Corps of Engineers is holding a series of three public hearings this week on the Clean Water Act section 404 individual permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline. The Sept. 28 hearing will be focused on Montana, the Sept. 29 hearing will be focused on South Dakota, and the Oct. 1 hearing will be focused on Nebraska.

The Environmental Law Institute Sept. 30 is holding a webinar on the future of pipelines, exploring whether setbacks to the Dakota Access Pipeline, Keystone XL Pipeline, and Atlantic Coast Pipeline may reflect shifting legal, economic, and policy pressures facing new pipeline construction projects.

Clean Air Act

The American University’s Center for Environmental Policy, the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, and the American Lung Association are hosting a virtual symposium Sept. 29 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act and the 30th anniversary of the Clean Air Act Amendments.

The comment period for three Clean Air Act rules closes this week, beginning with the agency’s proposed new source performance standards and emissions guidelines for Other Solid Waste Incineration units Sept. 29. EPA is proposing a major relaxation of air pollution limits for small waste incinerators by creating several new “subcategories” of incinerators and excluding the smallest units from stringent regulation.


The comment period on EPA’s proposal to retain its national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone unchanged at the levels set in 2015 by the Obama administration ends Oct. 1. Environmental and public health advocates have urged the agency to make the standards stricter, while groups representing the oil, manufacturing and other sectors are strongly defending EPA’s plan.

And the comment period on EPA’s proposed final designations for which areas are in attainment or violating the 2010 sulfur dioxide (SO2) NAAQS ends Oct. 2. The proposal is a key step toward completing the long-delayed and extensively litigated attainment designations process for the SO2 limit that EPA issued more than 10 years ago.

Fuel Economy

The National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Assessment of Technologies of Improving Fuel Economy of Light-Duty Vehicles - Phase III will meet Sept. 29 to discuss the status of the committee’s draft report.

Drinking Water

EPA is holding a webinar Sept. 29 on wildfires and the resulting impacts to waterbodies used as drinking water sources. The webinar is part of a monthly series held by the Office of Research and Development and Office of Water to discuss challenges and treatment solutions for small drinking water systems.

The agency Sept. 30 is holding a webinar on addressing drinking water challenges through partnerships, the current eligibilities of the drinking water state revolving fund set-asides related to partnership activities, as well as state examples of how they use their set-asides to encourage and build partnerships between water systems.

Federal Facilities

The Energy Department’s Environmental Management Advisory Board will meet Sept. 29 and is scheduled to receive briefings from several subcommittees of the board.


EPA’s Safe and Sustainable Water Resources Research Program is hosting a webinar Sept. 30 on the collaborative efforts of the agency’s SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring research team to reduce uncertainties in using this approach to inform public health decisions.

A Sept. 30 briefing by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute will discuss both the persistent challenges faced by small businesses in low-carbon sectors and the additional problems brought on by COVID-19, as well as emphasizing suggestions for the road ahead.

Contaminated Sites

A Sept. 30 American Bar Association webinar will explore potential risks in real estate from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), vapor intrusion, historic property contamination and other issues.

The comment period on a proposed settlement agreement between EPA and the city of Somerville, MA, under the Superfund law ends Oct. 1. Under the settlement, the city will perform part of a removal action at the Conway Park Site. The settlement agreement resolves Somerville’s liability for work performed and future response costs.

Endangered Species Act

The Pacific Legal Foundation is holding a Sept. 29 policy briefing on critical habitat designations and proposed Endangered Species Act regulatory reforms.

Gulf of Mexico

The National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Long Term Environmental Trends in the Gulf of Mexico will assess at a Sept. 29 meeting various aspects of current U.S. Gulf of Mexico restoration efforts.

Animal Testing

A Sept. 30 EPA webinar will discuss the identification of alternatives to animal testing for chemicals regulated by the Toxic Substances Control Act.


The National Municipal Stormwater Alliance is holding a Sept. 30 webinar on how a community-based public-private partnership can catalyze the utilization of private properties to generate low-cost and sustainably oriented stormwater management credits.