The Ninth Circuit dismissed an environmental group's ESA and NEPA claims against FWS, the National Park Service (NPS), and the state of Montana in a case concerning the "helicopter hazing" of bison in Yellowstone National Park. The group was concerned that helicopter hazing operations would adversely affect the Yellowstone grizzly, a threatened species that inhabits the same area. But the group's ESA §7 claim was moot because the government completed a second biological evaluation consultation addressing the impact of helicopter hazing on the Yellowstone grizzly bears. And the government's review satisfied NEPA.
A consent decree that requires a settling CWA defendant to build 68 million gallons of additional storage tank capacity to reduce or eliminate sewage overflows from its sewer system was modified to allow the defendant to defer phase I construction so that completion of both phases of the project is due upon the 2024 completion date for phase II.
Oil Company's Motion for a New Trial in the Deepwater Horizon Case Denied
A district court denied an oil company's motion to amend the findings, alter the judgment, or order a new trial in the Deepwater Horizon case in which the court found the company grossly negligent in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The company argued that it repeatedly objected to expert witness testimony, which concerned the weakened state of the production casing, because it was outside the "four corners" of the witness' expert report, and that the court sustained those objections. But even assuming that the complained-of-testimony was excluded during direct examination, the company's own counsel later opened the door to this testimony.
On June 18, 2014, EPA officially proposed the Clean Power Plan—a rule that aims to reduce CO2 emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of fossil fuel-fired power plants. The proposal was developed pursuant to CAA §111(d), a section of the law for which there is limited regulatory precedent and no direct judicial decisions interpreting the statutory language. Any major new EPA rulemaking is bound to be controversial, and the proposed Clean Power Plan is no exception. The December issue contributes to the debate by expanding on the major issues explored during a July 14, 2014, workshop hosted by ELI and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.