By

Aaron L. Flyer

30 June 2022

Agencies Rescind Trump-Era Definition of “Habitat” Under Endangered Species Act

On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service issued a final rule rescinding the agencies’ regulatory definition of “habitat” previously promulgated by the Trump administration on December 16, 2020, for use in determining a “critical habitat” under the Endangered Species Act (Act). Under this prior definition, “habitat” included “the abiotic and biotic setting that currently or periodically contains the resources and conditions necessary to support one or more life processes of a species.” (more…)

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28 June 2022

D.C. Circuit Finds That California Agency Did Not Waive Clean Water Act Authority for Hydroelectric Power Plan Permitting

On Friday, June 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) upheld a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Turlock Irrigation District et al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission et al. ruling that the California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) did not waive its authority to issue permits in connection with FERC’s licensing of the Don Pedro and La Grange hydroelectric plants (the Projects) in central California under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. (more…)

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14 April 2022

Supreme Court Lifts Stay of Trump-Era Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule

On Wednesday, April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed an order from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacating and remanding a 2020 rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) narrowing the ability of states and tribes to block infrastructure projects that discharge into waters of the United States under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. (more…)

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12 April 2022

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Finalizes Model Year 2024-26 Vehicle Fuel Economy Standards

On Friday, April 1, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced its final fuel economy standards for model year 2024-26 vehicles. The final rule increases vehicle efficiency requirements, as represented through vehicle-footprint-based targets, 8% annually for model years 2024 and 2025 and 10% for 2026, which the agency concludes represents the maximum feasible level manufactures can achieve for these model years. NHTSA predicts that the new standards will yield an industrywide average fuel economy of approximately 49 miles per gallon for model year 2026 passenger cars and light trucks, which represents an increase of 10 miles per gallon over model year 2021. (more…)

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04 November 2021

D.C. Circuit Denies Request to Stay Reconsideration of Lead and Copper Drinking Water Rule

On October 27, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a motion filed by five Republican state attorneys general to stay EPA’s June 2021 rule delaying the effective date of the Lead and Copper Drinking Water Rule promulgated under the Trump administration until December 16, 2021, thereby extended the compliance deadline for the rule by 10 months to October 2024. (more…)

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03 November 2021

Bureau of Land Management Announces Plans to Assess Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Oil and Gas Lease Sales

On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that state offices will solicit feedback from the public this week on proposed oil and gas lease sales to be held in early 2022 through draft environmental assessments. In addition to analyzing the effects of lease sales on air and water quality, wildlife habitats, and community impacts, these environmental assessments will also analyze greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale, including the social cost of carbon. (more…)

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02 November 2021

EPA Grants States’ Petition for Reconsideration of Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted petitions to reconsider air quality standards for ground-level ozone pollution set under the Trump administration in December 2020. Petitions were filed by a number of states, including New York, California, and the District of Columbia as well as various environmental groups. Currently, both primary and secondary ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards remain at their 2015 levels of 70 parts per billion (ppb) over an eight-hour period. (more…)

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02 September 2021

Ninth Circuit Sends San Joaquin Valley Ozone Plan Back to EPA

On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final rule approving the State of California’s plan for meeting the ozone air quality standard in the San Joaquin Valley and remanded the plan to EPA for further consideration. EPA approved the plan in 2019, which included a single contingency measure that would be activated if the plan did not achieve reasonable further progress toward meeting the ozone standard. A local environmental group, the Association of Irritated Residents (AIR), challenged the approval and argued that the single contingency measure was arbitrary and capricious because it provided for only nominal emissions reductions. (more…)

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