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Litigation

COURTS MOVE CLOSER TO RULING IN TWO KEY CLIMATE CHANGE LAWSUITS

Federal courts will hear oral arguments later this month in two key lawsuits on regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which could have major implications for the federal government's responsibility to oversee global climate change, in the absence of new legislative mandates.

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LAWSUIT OVER EPA SURVEYS COULD BOOST CRITIQUES OF AGENCY SCIENCE

A group representing government workers says a lawsuit seeking disclosure of staff surveys that EPA is withholding could shed new light on how agency employees view the state of EPA science that underlies its key policy decisions.

The outcome of the case could help EPA critics make their case that the agency is manipulating science to bolster controversial policy decisions the Bush administration champions, a claim EPA and industry dispute.

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MERCURY RULE, CAIR FACE POSSIBLE LAWSUITS FROM INDUSTRY, STATES

EPA's final rules for mercury and interstate air pollution are facing litigation threats from somewhat unexpected sectors, with Eastern coal companies considering litigation because the the mercury rule disproportionately benefits Western coal and states eyeing lawsuits to challenge credit allocations in the clean air interstate rule (CAIR).

The mercury dispute could also foreshadow fights over the Bush administration's Clear Skies legislation, which has fueled a similar debate among coal companies despite their overall support for the bill.

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EPA AIR OFFICIAL SAYS LITIGATION WILL LIKELY FORCE CHANGES TO NSR RULES

An EPA official recently suggested that pending litigation over the Bush administration's controversial 2002 new source review (NSR) reforms would likely lead a federal appeals court to overturn at least some parts of the regulations and force EPA to amend the rules.

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GROUPS SUGGEST EPA RISK REVIEW MAY VIOLATE ADVISORY PANEL LAW

Dozens of environmental groups are warning top EPA scientific officials that the agency's review of its risk assessment practices must comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), with the activists claiming FACA compliance for the review "is required by law."

The groups say the effort is heavily tilted towards industry perspectives.

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PRECEDENT-SETTING RULING LIMITS SUPERFUND BAR ON JUDICIAL REVIEW

A federal appeals court has issued a precedent-setting ruling that EPA cannot indefinitely cite a provision in Superfund law that bars judicial review of ongoing cleanup actions to thwart citizen suits, finding that the agency must present "some objective indicator" to show cleanup will be completed within a reasonable timeframe. The April 6 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Frey v. EPA allows a citizen suit by environmentalists over cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls at three Indiana Superfund sites to proceed.

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CAL/EPA OFFICIAL OUTLINES ENFORCEMENT SHORTCOMINGS, IMPROVEMENTS

Cal/EPA is stepping up its enforcement activities in the face of criticism from legislators and the public that its efforts to punish violators are falling short, a top Cal/EPA official said this week. At a legislative briefing, the official said the water boards and pesticides department in particular need to improve their enforcement activities, a process which is already underway. However, some Cal/EPA sources say an entirely new mindset is needed within the agency if it wants to truly turn around its enforcement program.

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HIGH COURT REJECTS BUILDING INDUSTRY'S STORMWATER PERMIT COMPLAINT

The state's high court has declined to hear a building industry challenge to a landmark San Diego water quality permit, ending years of state litigation and handing water board officials and environmentalists a second major legal victory in less than a week over stormwater pollution rules.

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Proponents Of Greenhouse Gas Controls Face Skeptical Judges

Environmentalists and state officials faced skeptical questioning from federal judges in a court case challenging EPA's claim that it cannot regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. One member of a three-judge panel hammered the plaintiffs on the strength of climate change science, while another stressed the agency's discretion in deciding whether to control these emissions.

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Courts Move Closer To Ruling On Key Climate Change Lawsuits

Federal courts will hear oral arguments this month in two key lawsuits on regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which could have major implications for the federal government's responsibility to oversee global climate change in the absence of a statutory mandate.

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