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Litigation

APPELLATE RULING MAY LIMIT GROUPS' ACCESS TO COURTS, EXPERTS SAY

A recent appellate ruling dismissing an environmental group's attempt to stop a Forest Service timber sale on the grounds that a different environmental group had already sought to litigate the issue sets a disturbing precedent that could block industry and environmental groups' access to courts, legal experts and some environmentalists warn.

These sources say the ruling may set a precedent by expanding a legal doctrine -- known as privity -- that is used to determine when parties in litigation share similar interests that may bar them from pursuing separate litigation.

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6TH CIRCUIT DECLINES TO BROADEN LANDMARK AIR RULING TO SUPERFUND

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to expand to the Superfund law the application of a landmark decision in which the 11th Circuit invalidated on constitutional due process grounds administrative penalties EPA levied under the Clean Air Act.

In Gurley v. United States, the 6th Circuit ruled that the 11th Circuit's landmark decision in Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) v. Whitman did not apply to Superfund law provisions allowing EPA to collect penalties when a defendant fails to respond to agency information requests.

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REVIEW SOUGHT FOR RULING ON RECOVERY FOR ESTIMATED CLEANUP COSTS

A waste transportation company is urging a federal appeals court to review its earlier precedent-setting ruling that allowed two chemical companies to seek Superfund cleanup contribution costs based on the estimated costs of a remedy that has yet to be completed.

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CASE MAY ALLOW DOJ TO TARGET LIMITS ON OVERSIGHT COST RECOVERY

A recent federal district court decision may present an opportunity for the federal government to challenge a long-standing legal precedent that prevents recovery of Superfund oversight costs, industry attorneys say.

The ruling also sets a precedent that limits the government's ability to recover attorneys' fees, according to the ruling.

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HIGH COURT COULD SETTLE SPLIT ON U.S. PREEMPTION OF STATE PESTICIDE LAWS

A case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether federal pesticide law prevents farmers from suing manufacturers under state statutes for crop damages resulting from improper pesticide labeling could resolve a lower court split on whether the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) trumps state pesticide labeling laws.

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EPA LIKELY TO SEEK FULL APPELLATE REVIEW OF RARE AIR RULE 'VACATUR'

EPA is planning to appeal a precedent-setting federal appellate decision vacating a clean air rule because agency officials fear it could set a dangerous precedent for immediately vacating defective air quality standards rather than remanding them to the agency for reconsideration, sources tracking the issue say.

EPA is particularly worried that if the ruling is allowed to stand, future courts can rely on the precedent to vacate rules that could be easily remedied, leaving the agency without any standard and potentially harming the environment, attorneys say.

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FACING ACTIVISTS' LAWSUIT, EPA TO ISSUE NEW RULES ON MOBILE SOURCE TOXICS

EPA plans next year to propose new controls on air toxic emissions from motor vehicles -- one of the largest sources of hazardous air pollutants in the country -- amid a lengthy court battle with environmentalists who claim the agency missed a self-imposed deadline to finalize rules this year.

Petroleum industry officials say they have not yet taken a position on such a rule, but raise concerns that it could be more difficult to control vehicle emissions following an expected phase-out of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

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EPA Permit For Offshore Drilling May Spark Legal Challenge

An EPA official says the agency's decision to include California water standards in a permit for oil drilling discharges into federal waters will likely spark a legal challenge.

The source says the agency's decision to issue a general permit governing oil rigs off the coast of California that includes the state's more stringent water quality standards, even though the rigs are located in federal waters, will almost certainly prompt litigation.

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EPA LIKELY TO SEEK FULL APPELLATE REVIEW OF RARE AIR RULE 'VACATUR'

EPA is planning to appeal a precedent-setting federal appellate decision vacating a clean air rule because agency officials fear it could set a dangerous precedent for immediately vacating defective air quality standards rather than remanding them to the agency for reconsideration, sources tracking the issue say.

EPA is particularly worried that if the ruling is allowed to stand, future courts can rely on the precedent to vacate rules that could be easily remedied, leaving the agency without any standard and potentially harming the environment, attorneys say.

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APPELLATE RULING MAY LIMIT GROUPS' COURT ACCESS, LEGAL EXPERTS SAY

A recent appellate ruling dismissing an environmental group's attempt to stop a Forest Service timber sale, on the grounds that a different environmental group had already sought to litigate the issue, sets a disturbing precedent that could block environmental and industry groups' access to courts, legal experts and some environmentalists warn.

These sources say the ruling may set a precedent by expanding a legal doctrine -- known as privity -- used to determine when parties in litigation share similar interests that may bar them from pursuing separate litigation.

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