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Litigation

DOJ Challenges Circuit Ruling To Recover Superfund Oversight Costs

The Justice Department (DOJ) is seeking to overturn a key appeals court ruling that prevents the government from recovering EPA oversight costs at Superfund cleanups conducted by private parties. If successful, DOJ's efforts could set the stage for regulators to recover tens of millions of dollars in oversight costs in states with the largest number of Superfund sites nationwide, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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LINKS TO W.R. GRACE MAY CLOUD CONFIRMATION OF EPA ENFORCEMENT CHIEF

Senate confirmation of the Bush administration's nominee for EPA enforcement chief, Granta Nakayama, could be complicated by his law firm's representation of W.R. Grace & Co. in federal litigation that accuses the company of causing widespread asbestos contamination stemming from mining operations in Libby, MT.

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EPA'S DRAFT EQUITY PLAN DROPS RACE AS A FACTOR IN FUTURE DECISIONS

EPA's recently released draft strategic plan on environmental justice -- the first in a decade -- proposes to drop race as a factor in identifying and prioritizing populations that may be disadvantaged by the agency's policies, asserting that all communities should be treated equally regardless of their race or socioeconomic status.

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HIGH COURT PICK TO FACE SCRUTINY ON FEDERAL ROLE IN ENVIRONMENT LAW

Several appellate judges presumed to be on President Bush's short list to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor have authored controversial dissenting opinions calling for a limited federal role in enforcing environmental laws, positions that could prompt Senate scrutiny of these potential nominees' environmental records, legal observers say.

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RULING BACKING 'INFORMED CONJECTURE' RAISES FEAR OVER EPA POWERS

A recent federal appellate decision that says federal agencies do not need empirical data to act, and can instead rely on "informed conjecture" to make key regulatory decisions, is prompting broad concern among industry and legal experts over EPA and other agencies' ability to promulgate strict rules without verifiable evidence.

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EPA ACTION ON UPSET EMISSIONS PLANS MAY CURTAIL ACTIVISTS' CHALLENGES

EPA is proposing to remove the public's ability to access company plans for dealing with unanticipated pollution known as "upset" emissions which may expose communities to high levels of air toxics like benzene, in a move that could curtail environmentalists' ability to pursue lawsuits challenging chemical plants and refineries.

The move comes in response to a regulatory petition an environmental group filed seeking more access to these plans, and after a separate activist group filed a lawsuit over the same issue.

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BUILDERS ASK FOR NARROWED PERMIT REQUIREMENTS IN TULLOCH APPEAL

APPEAL

Environmentalists are claiming the homebuilding industry is seeking to use ongoing litigation to dramatically narrow the circumstances under which dredged material is subject to Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting requirements, according to a brief recently filed in a federal appellate court.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS SEEK ADDED PRESENCE ON DOI RESOURCE DAMAGES PANEL

Activists are pressing the Department of the Interior (DOI) to add additional environmentalists to a recently created panel that will recommend possible reforms to the department's oversight of the natural resource damage (NRD) provisions of several federal environmental laws.

Environmentalists late last month urged DOI Secretary Gale Norton to add two environmentalists to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) committee announced last month, saying the panel appears stacked with industry representatives.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS APPEAL RULING ON EPA'S EFFLUENT GUIDELINES REVIEWS

Activists are urging an appellate court to overturn a district court ruling that supported EPA's effluent guidelines review program and declined to address whether the agency's process for reviewing existing regulations is sufficient, arguing only an appellate court could evaluate the substance of EPA's plan.

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RULING BACKING 'INFORMED CONJECTURE' RAISES FEAR OVER EPA POWERS

A recent federal appellate decision that says federal agencies do not need empirical data to act, and can instead rely on "informed conjecture" to make key regulatory decisions, is prompting broad concern among industry and legal experts over EPA and other agencies' ability to promulgate strict rules without verifiable evidence.

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