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Weekly Cases Update Volume 50, Issue 6

South Carolina Coastal Conservation League v. Ross

ELR 20040
2:18-3326-RMG (D.S.C., February 2020)

A district court denied a motion to dismiss a challenge to NMFS' decision to issue incidental harassment authorizations to five companies to conduct seismic testing for oil and gas in the Mid- and South Atlantic Ocean. South Carolina challenged President Trump's reversal via...

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)

In re Downstream Addicks and Barker (Texas) Flood-Control Reservoirs

ELR 20042
17-9002 (Fed. Cl., February 2020)

The Court of Federal Claims held that the U.S. government was not liable for the flooding of homes near two dams managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. Property owners downstream of the dams argued that the government flooded their lands by opening the...

Taking of private property

Jam v. International Finance Corp.

ELR 20041
15-612 (JDB) (D.D.C., February 2020)

A district court held an international development bank that financed construction of a coal-fired power plant in India was immune from a suit brought by a group of Indian villagers claiming the plant polluted surrounding air, land, and water. The bank argued that the group could not sue it in...

Federal Jurisdiction

American Wild Horse Campaign v. Bernhardt

ELR 20039
18-1529 (BAH) (D.D.C., February 2020)

A district court denied horse advocacy and environmental groups' motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit concerning BLM's proposal to remove wild horses from public lands in southeastern Nevada. The groups challenged BLM's 2008 land use plan that determined the area would not be managed for...

Public Lands

Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt

ELR 20043
18-2576 (RC) (D.D.C., February 2020)

A district court dismissed a challenge to FWS' development of guidelines implementing its species status assessments (SSA) program under the ESA. An environmental group argued that the Service failed to provide public notice and an opportunity for comment on the guidelines, thus depriving the...

Determination of endangered and threatened species, §4

BNSF Railway Co. v. Clark County

ELR 20044
C18-5926 BHS (W.D. Wash., February 2020)

A district court held that a railroad company was not required to obtain a local permit to repair its tracks in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The company argued that the ICC Termination Act preempted the permitting and preclearance process established by a county where the gorge...

Public Lands

Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

ELR 20038
19cv5174 (DLC) (S.D.N.Y., February 2020)

A district court held that a 2017 EPA directive that prohibited scientists in receipt of certain EPA grants from serving on the Agency's federal advisory committees was arbitrary and capricious. An environmental group argued, among other things, that the directive failed to provide a reasoned...

Administrative Procedure Act (APA)

Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service

ELR 20036
CV-17-00475-TUC-JAS (L), CV-17-00576-TUC-JAS (C), and CV-17-00189-TUC-JAS (C) (D. Ariz., February 2020)

A district court held that FWS must reconsider its approval of a proposed open-pit copper mine in the Coronado National Forest. An environmental group argued the agency improperly used a heightened standard of review when it determined the mine was unlikely to result in destruction or adverse...

Jeopardize species/habitat

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. Bernhardt

ELR 20035
18-1547 (JDB) (D.D.C., February 2020)

A district court dismissed for lack of standing a challenge to FWS' decision to delist the threatened Louisiana black bear under the ESA. Individuals and nonprofit groups challenged the Service's conclusions in its decision that the bear was recovered and no longer met the definition of a...

Determination of endangered and threatened species, §4

Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

ELR 20037
19-1009 (D.C. Cir., February 2020)

The D.C. Circuit dismissed a Native American tribe's petition to review a FERC order denying the tribe's motion to intervene in the Commission's proceeding over construction of a natural gas pipeline in Massachusetts. The tribe argued that, in authorizing construction of a pipeline across land...

National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)