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Weekly Cases Update Volume 42, Issue 6

ATK Launch Systems, Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency

ELR 20050
10-1004 (D.C. Cir., February 2012)

The D.C. Circuit upheld EPA's rule designating certain areas in Utah as nonattainment for the 2006 24-hour fine particulate matter (PM2.5) standard. Petitioners—two counties, three cities, and an aerospace and defense company—challenged the inclusion of parts of Tooele and Box Elder Counties...

Designation as attainment/nonattainment

PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana

ELR 20045
10-218 (U.S., February 2012)

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision that Montana may charge rent from an electric company that owns dams on the Missouri, Madison, and Clark Fork rivers. The Montana Supreme Court held that title to the riverbeds passed to Montana when it became a state in 1889 and awarded...

Energy (generally), Equal footing doctrine, Land use, Property rights

Anschutz Exploration Corp. v. Town of Dryden

ELR 20040
2011-0902 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., February 2012)

A New York court upheld a town's zoning amendment that bans hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) within its jurisdiction. The zoning amendment was enacted in response to a petition from town residents concerned about hydrofracking's impact on ground and surface water supplies. An energy...

Drinking water, Energy (generally)

Florida Wildlife Federation v. Jackson

ELR 20048
4:08cv324 et al. (N.D. Fla., February 2012)

A district court upheld EPA's rule setting numeric nutrient criteria for Florida except in two respects: the stream criteria and the default downstream-protection criteria for unimpaired lakes. In 2009, recognizing that the state's narrative criterion was insufficient to control Florida's...

Review and revision, §303(c)

Turtle Island Restoration Network v. United States Department of State

ELR 20042
10-17059 (9th Cir., February 2012)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision dismissing a conservation group's claims that the State Department violated its NEPA and ESA obligations in conducting annual certifications of countries exempted from the general ban on shrimp imports. Section 609(b) of Public Law No. 101-162...

Sea turtles

Shenandoah Valley Network v. Capka

ELR 20041
10-1954 (4th Cir., February 2012)

The Fourth Circuit dismissed environmental groups' NEPA claim against the Federal Highway Administration and the Virginia Department of Transportation concerning improvements to a highway. The groups claimed that the agencies are attempting to foreclose consideration of environmentally...

Alternatives, §102(2)(E)

Sánchez v. United States

ELR 20047
10-1648 (1st Cir., February 2012)

The First Circuit upheld the dismissal of residents' Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) against the United States in connection with the Navy's alleged negligence in emitting certain pollutants during military exercises at a naval training facility on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. The...

Included

Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Ford

ELR 20049
1804 (Md. Spec. Ct., February 2012)

A Maryland appellate court held that under certain circumstances, Maryland law permits recovery for emotional distress related to reasonable fear of cancer. The case involved a jury verdict awarding compensatory damages totaling over $147 million to hundreds of plaintiffs who claimed that an...

Emotional distress, Tort law

Save the Peaks Coalition v. United States Forest Service

ELR 20044
10-17896 (9th Cir., February 2012)

The Ninth Circuit held that the U.S. Forest Service did not violate NEPA when it allowed a ski resort operator to make artificial snow with reclaimed water. The lower court erred in holding that the suit was barred by laches. Although the plaintiffs lacked diligence in pursuing their claims...

Discussion of, held adequate

Tri-Valley CAREs v. U.S. Department of Energy

ELR 20043
10-17636 (9th Cir., February 2012)

The Ninth Circuit held that DOE's environmental assessment of a prospective "biosafety level-3" facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory complied with NEPA. DOE took the requisite "hard look" at the threat of a direct terrorist attack at the facility. DOE also reasonably...

Discussion of, held adequate