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Weekly Cases Update Volume 44, Issue 26

Montana Environmental Information Center v. Stone-Manning

44 ELR 20204
13-35107 (9th Cir., September 2014)

The Ninth Circuit held that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over environmental groups' citizen suit challenging the Montana Department of Environmental Quality's potential approval of a surface mining permit. The groups argued that the agency director would be in violation of SMCRA if she...

Permits, §506

Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking, LLC v. Bureau of Land Management

44 ELR 20203
3:14-cv-00338 (D. Nev., September 2014)

A district court denied an environmental group's motion to preliminarily enjoin BLM from issuing oil and gas leases in central and southwest Nevada due to allegedly defective environmental analyses. Although BLM has conducted a lease sale, it retains discretion to issue any leases resulting from...

Environmental Assessment/Impact Statement, Resource development

Exelon Wind 1, LLC v. Nelson

44 ELR 20202
12-51228 (5th Cir., September 2014)

The Fifth Circuit upheld a Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) rule that effectively prohibits a wind energy company from forming "legally enforceable obligations" when selling power to public utilities. The Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) seeks to promote the...

Energy (generally)

In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon”

44 ELR 20200
MDL 2179 (E.D. La., September 2014)

A district court issued its findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding phase one of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill trial, holding various companies liable for the spill. In the 150+-page opinion, the court determined that BP Exploration & Production, Inc., is subject to...

Liability, §1002, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), Water

Alaska Community Action on Toxics v. Aurora Energy Services, LLC

44 ELR 20201
13-35709 (9th Cir., September 2014)

The Ninth Circuit held that the owner and operator of a coal export terminal may be held liable under the CWA for non-stormwater discharges of coal into Resurrection Bay, Alaska. Because the facility has been covered under the Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with...

Coverage, Held not included

Colorado Oil & Gas Ass'n v. City of Lafayette, Colorado

44 ELR 20206
3CV31746 (Colo. Dist. Ct., September 2014)

A Colorado court held that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act preempts a city's ban on all oil and gas extraction and related activities within the city's boundaries. The court held that the operational conflict in this case was "obvious and patent" on its face. There is no way to...

Hydraulic Fracturing

Gorsline v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township

44 ELR 20199
14-000130 (Pa. Ct. C.P., August 2014)

A Pennsylvania court vacated and reversed a town's decision to issue a special use permit allowing an energy company to construct and operate an unconventional natural gas well pad near landowners' private property. The landowners presented substantial evidence that there is a high degree of...

Hydraulic Fracturing

Clean Water Action Council of Northeastern Wisconsin, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

44 ELR 20198
12-3388 (7th Cir., August 2014)

The Seventh Circuit dismissed an environmental group's lawsuit challenging EPA's decision not to object to Wisconsin's renewal of a Title V permit for a pre-1975 paper mill. Under the CAA's PSD program, emissions from pre-1975 sources count as part of the emissions baseline and not toward the...

"Modification" construed

Sierra Club v. Energy Future Holdings Corp

44 ELR 20205
12-CV-108 (W.D. Tex., August 2014)

A district court ordered an environmental group to pay $6.4 million in attorney fees in a citizen suit it filed against the owners of a Texas coal-fired power plant for alleged CAA violations. Below, the court dismissed the group's claims that the plant violated the Act's particulate matter (PM...

Citizen suits, §304(d)