Posted by: Steven M. Taber | June 7, 2008

Recent Environmental Law Cases – June 7, 2008

The past week (May 31 – June 6, 2008), the U.S. Federal courts decided four cases that involved environmental law.

  1. Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA, Case No. 07-1053 (D.C. Cir. June 6, 2008). Clean Air Act. The EPA determined by rule that it was not going to change its previous rule regarding facilities that use or produce synthetic organic chemicals. The Petitioners, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network challenged the EPA’s rule under subsection 112(f) of the Clean Air Act. The Petitioners also challenged the EPA’s technology review under subsection 112(d)(6). The Court denied the petition, stating that the agency had met its burden by showing that its interpretation that the standard by must “provide an ample margin of safety to protect public health” and that the agency’s construction of the statute is a reasonable construction of the statute.
  2. Miami-Dade v. EPA, Case Nos. 06-10551, 06-10574, 06-10575, 06-10576, 06-10579, and 06-10583 (11th Cir., June 6, 2008). Safe Drinking Water Act. Several groups filed Petitions for Review regarding the EPA’s amendment of the current federal underground injection control requirements for Class I municipal disposal wells in Florida. The petitioners argued that the amendment conflicts with the plain language of the Safe Drinking Water Act that the EPA’s approach to UIC regulation in South Florida was arbitrary and capricious and that the EPA gave insufficient notice of certain terms of the Final Rule. The court denied the petition, holding that Congress in the SDWA established no metric for evaluating endangerment, and instead, left it to the EPA to give specific meaning to the endangerment standard since a determination of endangerment is necessarily a question of policy.
  3. Humane Society of the United States v. Kempthorne, Case Nos. 06-5396, 06-5397 ( D.C. Cir. June 3, 2008). Endangered Species Act.  Humane Society sued the Secretary of Interior seeking a preliminary injunction barring the culling of 43 gray wolves in Wisconsin pursuant to a permit issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  The District Court granted the injunction and the Defendants appealed.  While the appeal was pending, the Department of the Interior removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species list.  Since the parties agreed that the delisting of the gray wolves mooted the appeal, the defendants moved to vacate the District Court’s injunction and the motion was granted.
  4. Norton Construction v. Army Corps of Engineers, Case No. 07-3826 (6th Cir. June 2, 2008). Clean Water Act.  Norton Construction Company applied for a permit to construct a new landfill  in an area considered to be within the Muskingum watershed.  The Army Corps of Engineers refused to process the application citing a Congressional appropriation act that the Corps construed as forbidding it from processing applications for new landfills in that area.  The district court ruled that the Corps reasonably interpreted the statute and that law did not violate Norton’s constitutional rights.  The U.S. Appeals court upheld the district court’s decision.
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