CPR Archive for Holly Doremus

Mass. v. EPA bears fruit for environmental petitioners

by Holly Doremus | October 23, 2013

Court rules that EPA must decide if new water quality standards are needed to protect the Gulf of Mexico

A US District Court in Louisiana recently ruled, in Gulf Restoration Network v. Jackson, that EPA must decide whether it has to impose new water quality standards for nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River watershed. Although that might seem far afield from the Supreme Court’s greenhouse gas emissions decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, in fact it’s a direct descendant. 

The Administrative Procedure Act allows any interested person to petition any federal agency to make, change, or repeal regulations. The APA doesn’t specifically say how courts should review agency responses to petitions, and in general the courts have been quite deferential to petition denials.

Massachusetts v. EPA is best known for holding that states have standing in federal court to challenge actions that contribute to climate change. But it also has important implications for APA rulemaking petitions. The plaintiffs in Massachusetts v. EPA had petitioned EPA to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars. EPA denied the petition on the grounds ...

What’s holding up the Clean Water Act jurisdictional guidance?

by Holly Doremus | May 20, 2013
Reposted from LegalPlanet. People on both sides of the political spectrum agree that the boundaries of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act are murky, to say the least. But efforts by EPA and the Corps of Engineers to clarify those boundaries have been tied up in the White House for more than a year, with no explanation and to no apparent useful purpose. The President is fond of telling that nation that it should place more trust in government. ...

Jane Lubchenco's Legacy at NOAA

by Holly Doremus | December 14, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco has announced that she will leave her post at the end of February. Her letter to NOAA employees, reprinted in the Washington Post, cites the difficulty of maintaining a bi-coastal family life. Dr. Lubchenco, a distinguished marine biologist, has put in four years at the helm of NOAA, as much time as reasonably could be expected. She was one of President Obama’s earliest nominees, named before his inauguration as part of a ...

What to Expect in the Logging Roads Case

by Holly Doremus | November 30, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. This coming Monday, Dec. 3, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the logging roads case. The case involves two consolidated petitions, Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Georgia Pacific v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center , both challenging the same decision of the Ninth Circuit, Northwest Environmental Defense Center v. Brown, 640 F.3d 1063 (9th Cir. 2011). (Decker is brought on behalf of the state of Oregon, which owns the land and roads ...

Should We Revive an Extinct Galapagos Tortoise?

by Holly Doremus | November 29, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. The Washington Post reported this week that scientists think they can resurrect the Pinta Island subspecies of Galapagos tortoise whose last remaining member, “Lonesome George," died this summer. Scientists at Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park say they have found enough Pinta Island genetic material in tortoise on another nearby island that an intensive breeding program over 100 to 150 years could regenerate the pure Pinta Island subspecies. It’s all very cool and sci-fi to think we might ...

More on BP's Guilty Plea: It's Not Just About the Money

by Holly Doremus | November 20, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. As already noted by Rick and Megan, last week BP pleaded guilty to 14 criminal counts arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. Megan provided a good basic overview of the terms of the agreement. Here is the plea agreement itself. The amount of money BP has agreed to pay, in criminal fines and additional payments, has been the focus of most of the news coverage so far. The terms of BP’s ...

Ninth Circuit Corrects Itself on Gold Mining and the ESA

by Holly Doremus | June 04, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. The en banc 9th Circuit issued its opinion Friday in Karuk Tribe v. US Forest Service. This opinion brings a welcome reversal of a panel opinion from last April which had ruled in a split decision that the Forest Service did not have to consult with the wildlife agencies before authorizing suction dredging on the Klamath River. Judge Milan Smith wrote for the majority in the panel decision, with Judge William Fletcher in dissent. Those roles ...

40 Years Hasn't Taught Some Agencies Much About NEPA

by Holly Doremus | May 07, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. You would think that by now federal agencies would have the NEPA process pretty well down. After all, it’s been the law since 1970, requiring that every federal agency prepare an environmental impact statement before committing itself to environmentally harmful actions. And it’s not that hard to do. Agencies just have to describe the action, alternatives to it, and their effects on the environment relative to not taking the action. Pretty straightforward, really, but a new ...

Court Skeptical of EPA's Section 404 Role Overturns Mine Veto

by Holly Doremus | March 26, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Regular readers of this blog know that on January 13, 2011, EPA vetoed a Clean Water Act section 404 permit issued by the Corp of Engineers for valley fill at the Spruce No. 1 mountaintop removal mine project in West Virginia. This was only the 13th time EPA had used its veto power, and the first time it had vetoed a permit after it was formally issued. I wrote at the time: “Expect litigation, and expect ...

Where Does NOAA Belong?

by Holly Doremus | January 14, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Clearly I need to slow down Rick’s internet connection to get him to stop scooping me. Rick reported earlier that the President has floated a proposal to reorganize the Commerce Department and related agencies which would apparently include moving NOAA (all of NOAA, according to OMB’s Jeffrey Zeints, not just its ESA functions) into the Department of Interior. Actually, although that’s the way the story is being spun out in the media, it’s not exactly what’s going ...

Can You Stand to Hear More About Sackett?

by Holly Doremus | January 11, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. As usual, I’m behind Rick on commenting on the latest Supreme Court development. (In my defense, it is the first day of classes, although I know that’s not much of an excuse.) Unlike Rick, I didn’t attend the oral argument (see lame excuse above), but having read the transcript I agree with the general consensus that EPA is going to lose this case. However, I don’t agree with Rick’s conclusion that “the Sacketts will wind up ...

How the Tenth Circuit Upheld the Clinton-era Roadless Rule

by Holly Doremus | November 08, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. You wouldn’t think courts would still be deciding, late in 2011, whether actions taken by the Clinton Administration were lawful. But they are. Late last month, the Tenth Circuit upheld the Roadless Rule for national forests issued at the very end of the Clinton presidency. The Roadless Rule, which largely prohibited road construction and timber harvest in inventoried roadless areas, has been the subject of a game of judicial and executive ping-pong. Wyoming challenged the rule, ...

Lisa Jackson at Berkeley Law

by Holly Doremus | November 04, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Yesterday, Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment hosted a public presentation by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. She delivered brief prepared remarks, then took a lot of questions. She didn’t announce any new policy initiatives, but she did make it clear that she (and the President) are not going to cave to pressure from Republicans in the House. Jackson did seem glad to be well outside the Beltway for a while, and who can ...

UK Report: Behavioral Change Takes More Than a Nudge

by Holly Doremus | July 22, 2011
No one seems to like the idea of regulation these days. Nudges, alternatives that try to get people to voluntarily alter their behavior by changing the context in which they make decisions, have been widely touted as a better approach. Cass Sunstein, Obama’s “regulatory czar” in the Office of Management and Budget, is a leading proponent of the “nudging” idea, and the co-author of a popular book promoting the concept that people should be gently helped to make better decisions ...

EPA Finalizes Mountaintop Removal Guidance

by Holly Doremus | July 21, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. After a three-and-a-half month delay for White House review, EPA has finalized its guidance for review of mountaintop removal mining permits in Appalachia. I needn’t have worried that the White House would roll EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on this one. The final guidance maintains the strong stand EPA took last April when it issued the interim guidance it finalized today. The thrust of this final version, like the interim guidance, is that EPA will actually exercise ...

White Paper on Habitat Conservation Plans and Climate Change

by Holly Doremus | July 20, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Melinda Taylor at the University of Texas School of Law and I have just put out a white paper on Habitat Conservation Plans and Climate Change: Recommendations for Policy.  It can be accessed here through Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment, or here through UT’s Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law. A lot of attention has been paid lately to what role, if any, the Endangered Species Act should play ...

The New BOEMRE-NOAA MOU: A Good Start, But More is Needed

by Holly Doremus | May 27, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. I was excited to read this story in the LA Times, saying that BOEMRE and NOAA had reached an agreement that would give NOAA more say in decisions to approve offshore drilling. (Draw whatever conclusions you like about what my geeky excitement says about how boring my life must be.) This agreement is certainly needed, as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission has noted, and as I’ve written in this paper forthcoming in Boston College’s Environmental ...

White House Review Delays EPA Mountaintop Removal Guidance

by Holly Doremus | April 05, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. EPA has announced that it will delay finalizing its guidance memorandum on Clean Water Act permitting for mountaintop removal mining projects pending review by the White House Office of Management and Budget. The announcement is bad news for Appalachian streams, and worse news for environmental interests hoping the Obama administration won’t completely cave to regulated interests. The guidance was issued in interim form on April 1 of last year. EPA described the memorandum as clarifying how ...

Also from Holly Doremus

Holly Doremus is James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation; Faculty Co-Director, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment; and Director, Environmental Law Program at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mass. v. EPA bears fruit for environmental petitioners

Doremus | Oct 23, 2013 | Environmental Policy

What’s holding up the Clean Water Act jurisdictional guidance?

Doremus | May 20, 2013 | Environmental Policy

Jane Lubchenco's Legacy at NOAA

Doremus | Dec 14, 2012 | Good Government

What to Expect in the Logging Roads Case

Doremus | Nov 30, 2012 | Environmental Policy

Should We Revive an Extinct Galapagos Tortoise?

Doremus | Nov 29, 2012 | Environmental Policy

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