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Litigation

RULING MAY BLOCK FUTURE CHALLENGES TO FEDERAL AIR PERMIT PROGRAMS

A federal appeals court has set what could be a decisive precedent blocking court challenges to state implementation of federal air permitting requirements by ruling that EPA decisions on whether to sanction states for inadequate program implementation are not subject to judicial review.

Environmentalists are alarmed by the decision, saying it could pave the way for future legal arguments to prevent judicial review of other EPA actions.

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ANIMAL RIGHTS ATTORNEY SEES GAIN IN RULING REJECTING SPECIES' ESA RIGHTS

An Oct. 20 appeals court ruling that dismissed novel litigation seeking standing for endangered marine mammals to sue the Defense Department is nevertheless a clear gain for animal rights groups because the court also held that nothing in the Constitution would prevent Congress from granting standing to animals in the future, an attorney for the plaintiffs says.

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RULING ON CWA PERMIT LIMITS DEFENSE IN CONVICTION OVER VIEQUES PROTEST

A federal appellate ruling continuing an expired Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for the Navy has limited the defenses for a group of protesters convicted of illegally entering waters surrounding the former naval training area on the island of Vieques, PR.

Attorneys for the protesters say they may ask for a rehearing on the issue -- even though the court sent the case back to the lower court on another point -- saying it sets a dangerous precedent that could ease dischargers' ability to continue discharging under expired permits.

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PACT AT ALASKA BASE COULD BACK GROUPS' OPPOSITION TO DOD EXEMPTIONS

The military's recent agreement to settle citizen litigation over contamination at the Army's Fort Richardson could help environmentalists fight Pentagon arguments for exemptions from environmental laws because military officials often cited the suit as evidence they needed the exemptions to preserve readiness, activists say.

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STATES EYE OUTCOME-BASED MEASURES FOR EPA ENFORCEMENT REVIEWS

The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) will begin compiling outcome-based performance measures that state officials hope EPA will use in an ongoing review of how consistently the agency evaluates state enforcement programs, including water enforcement programs.

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D.C. CIRCUIT WEIGHS NEED TO CONSIDER EXPOSURE ROUTES FOR NPL LISTINGS

In a case of first impression that could have broad implications for future Superfund listings, a key federal appeals court will decide whether EPA must consider a chemical's likely exposure pathway when deciding to place contaminated sites on the National Priorities List (NPL).

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STATES EYE OUTCOME-BASED MEASURES FOR EPA ENFORCEMENT REVIEWS

The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) will begin compiling outcome-based performance measures that state officials hope EPA will use in an ongoing review of how consistently the agency evaluates state enforcement programs.

States also want EPA to eventually adopt the performance measures as a more accurate way of assessing the success of state enforcement programs, which occurs, for instance, when EPA responds to environmentalists' petitions for the agency to withdraw environmental programs delegated to states and to respond to critical inspector general audits.

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STAKEHOLDERS GIVE CAL/EPA EARLY PRAISE ON EQUITY ACTION PLAN

Cal/EPA is drawing positive reviews from environmentalists for its early work in implementing an equity action plan, which features environmental justice (EJ) pilot projects intended to address issues related to precautionary approaches and cumulative impacts. The agency has held a series of workshops to explain its action plan and take public comment on the preliminary pilot projects. The projects are designed to more quickly implement EJ initiatives as the agency follows a longer-term strategy to integrate equity principles into all its programs and activities.

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L.A. JOINS COURT FIGHT AGAINST DOE CLEANUP PLAN FOR BOEING LAB

By joining two environmental groups in a lawsuit against federal energy officials over a disputed cleanup plan for a former rocket testing and nuclear research facility, the city of Los Angeles has lent resources and "stature" to the effort, activists involved in the suit say. The plaintiffs allege the Department of Energy (DOE) is following an illegally lax cleanup plan and believe the case could have national implications by compelling DOE to adhere to more protective standards at similar sites across the country.

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Ruling May Block Future Challenges To Federal Air Permit Programs

A federal appeals court has set what could be a decisive precedent blocking court challenges to state implementation of federal air permitting requirements by ruling that EPA decisions on whether to sanction states for inadequate program implementation are not subject to judicial review.

Environmentalists are alarmed by the decision, saying it could pave the way for future legal arguments to prevent judicial review of other EPA actions.

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