The DC Courts Yank Pruitt’s Leash

The EPA operates under very strict guidelines regarding its decisions related to rules and regulations.  The guidelines were in play when the EPA released a rule to cut methane emissions in May 2016.  These guidelines also worked to save the rule when Pruitt’s EPA moved to arbitrarily halt its enforcement.

In a 2-1 decision in the DC Court of Appeals today the justices rejected the EPA’s assertion that its decision to ‘stay’ the methane rule for two years was not a final agency action, and therefore not subject to court overview.

The imposition of the stay, however, is an entirely different
matter. By staying the methane rule, EPA has not only concluded that section 307(d)(7)(B) requires reconsideration, but it has also suspended the rule’s compliance deadlines. EPA’s stay, in other words, is essentially an order delaying the rule’s effective date, and this court has held that such orders are tantamount to amending or revoking a rule. As we explained in a very similar situation, where an agency granted an application for interim relief from a safety standard while it reconsidered that standard: “In effect, the Administrator has granted a modification of the mandatory safety standard for the entire period of time that the petition is pending. There is no indication that the Secretary intends to reconsider this decision or to vacate the grant of interim relief. Thus, the Secretary’s decision represents the final agency position on this issue, has the status of law, and has an immediate and direct effect on the parties. Therefore, we have no difficulty concluding that the Secretary has issued a final decision . . .

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Several groups sue on reversal of Arctic Drilling ban

On May 3rd, several groups including Earth Justice, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and others joined with Alaska Native groups to sue the Trump administration for its reversal of the Arctic drilling ban.

The complaint states there is no Constitutional authority for Trump to reverse a Section 12(a) withdrawal, the authority President Obama used to ban Arctic drilling. In the complaint, the claim for relief states:

In reversing President Obama’s Arctic and Atlantic Ocean withdrawals, President Trump acted in excess of his authority under Article II of the U.S. Constitution and intruded on Congress’s non-delegated exclusive power under the Property Clause, in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.

The lawsuit is in preliminary stages, and so far, no group has asked to intervene on behalf of the government, though I expect this to change.

Catching Up

I did a major site redesign and I’m badly behind on listing lawsuits. I’ll attempt to catch up in the next week or so.

NRDC pushes back on attempts to slow or stop environmental lawsuits

The Justice Department has asked the courts to hold EPA two court cases, including the case related to the Clean Power Plan, in abeyance. The request is a result of Trump’s recent Executive Order seeking to weaken or undermine EPA rules and regulations. The DOJ is asking for an abeyance until 30 days after the EPA determines whether to change or revoke the rules.

However,  NRDC, one of many intervenors in the cases, will file motions in the courts next week asking them to deny the DOJ request.

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Several Groups file lawsuit against the Keystone XL Pipeline decision

Trump’s administration recently reversed the Obama administration’s decision to deny a permit to TransCanada for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Both the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Center for Biological Diversity announced today that several organizations have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for this decision. Among the plaintiffs are:

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