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Categories: “Environmental Law”

  • Iowa Supreme Court Dismisses Attempt to Regulate Agricultural Water Pollution under the Public Trust
  • June 29th, 2021 — by Katherine Hupp — Category: Environmental Law Water Quality

  • Unlike some states, Iowa does not require farmers to mitigate nonpoint source pollution. Instead, Iowa farmers are encouraged to voluntarily implement agricultural water pollution controls. Environmental groups challenged Iowa’s voluntary compliance strategy in court but, on June 18, the Iowa Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of standing. The court ruled that the claims raised by the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, which sought to force state environmental agencies to regulate agricultural nonpoint source pollution under the public trust doctrine, are not capable of being resolved by the courts.


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  • Brace for Heavy Rolls: Litigation Over Fifteen-Year-Old Oil Spill Foretells Big Changes for OPA
  • June 3rd, 2021 — Collin Sykes — Category: Environmental Law

  • On September 16, 2004, Hurricane Ivan made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. While crossing the Gulf of Mexico, the Category III storm ravaged the region’s offshore oil infrastructure. In one incident, Taylor Energy Company's oil production platform at Mississippi Canyon Block 20 (MC20) collapsed when the storm surge caused a subsea mudslide in the loose sedimentary bottom terrain.


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  • Grasping at Water: In Guam v. U.S., Supreme Court Grapples with Meaning in the Absence of Language
  • May 13th, 2021 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: CWA Environmental Law

  • On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Guam v. United States, No. 20-382. Guam is appealing a ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the territory is time-barred from seeking reimbursement from the U.S. Navy for the cost of cleaning up the Ordot Landfill.


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  • NOAA Upholds Oregon Consistency Objection to Jordan Cove LNG Project
  • April 27th, 2021 — by Olivia Deans — Category: Coastal Management Environmental Law Offshore Energy

  • Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rejected a federal agency’s petition to overturn a state coastal management program consistency objection. The objection in question was to the Jordan Cove LNG project (Project). This proposal called for the construction of a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal and 229-mile natural gas pipeline.


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  • Supreme Court Sides with Georgia Against Florida in Long-Running Water Rights Dispute
  • April 15th, 2021 — by Betsy Lee Montague — Category: Environmental Law

  • The U.S. Supreme Court recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by the State of Florida against the State of Georgia concerning the proper apportionment of interstate waters. Florida v. Georgia, No. 142, 2021 WL 1215718 (U.S. Apr. 1, 2021). In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Court rejected Florida’s argument that Georgia was consuming more than its fair share of water from an interstate network of rivers in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.


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  • Sand Mining Case on Hold - For Now
  • March 18th, 2021 — by Terra Bowling — Category: Coastal Management Environmental Law

  • Many beach renourishment projects rely on sand mined from other beaches and inland dunes. The practice of sand mining, however, is controversial, as it can lead to erosion and other negative habitat impacts at the mined beaches. In February, a federal district court stayed a case challenging a Trump-era rule that would allow sand mining within the Coastal Barrier Resource System (System). The case is on hold for 60 days while the Department of Interior (DOI) reviews the rule.


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  • New Executive Order Adds to Legal Controversy Surrounding Marine National Monument
  • February 9th, 2021 — by Olivia Deans — Category: Environmental Law Fisheries Marine Monuments

  • On his first day in office, President Biden issued an Executive Order broadly resetting environmental policy at the federal level in the United States. Executive Order 13,990 creates a policy to restore and expand national monuments, and also directs the Secretary of Interior to review monument boundaries and Presidential Proclamations affecting national monuments.


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  • Mississippi v. Tennessee – Special Master Finds Aquifer is an Interstate Resource
  • November 13th, 2020 — by Catherine Janasie — Category: Environmental Law Groundwater

  • When one state alleges it has suffered a legal harm caused by another state, the complaining state must ask the Supreme Court of the United States–the only court that can hear disputes between states–to hear the case.


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  • U.S. Supreme Court Says Some Groundwater Discharges Fall Under CWA
  • April 30th, 2020 — by Terra Bowling — Category: Clean Water Act Environmental Law Groundwater

  • In a 6-3 opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires the federal government to regulate some groundwater pollutants that discharge into navigable waters. (Cty. of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, No. 18-260, 2020 WL 1941966 (U.S. Apr. 23, 2020)). The CWA prohibits the addition of any pollutant from a point source to navigable waters without the appropriate permit. In this case, the Supreme Court had to determine whether a permit is necessary “when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, here, ‘groundwater.’”


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  • Controversy over the Trump Administration’s new Central Valley Water Plan Continues- California Questions Whether Fish Species Will be Adequately Protected
  • February 26th, 2020 — by Catherine Janasie — Category: Endangered Species Environmental Law

  • Last week, President Trump traveled to California to sign a memorandum implementing a new plan for the delivery of water to the state’s Central Valley. The water plan is controversial- while it will allow more water to reach Central Valley farmers, it will also impact fish species listed as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). That is due to the fact the updated water plans will allow for more diversions from the state’s Bay-Delta watershed that serves as habitat for these listed species.


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  • Time and Tide Wait for None: Tribal Communities in Alaska and Louisiana Submit Climate-Forced Displacement Complaint to the United Nations
  • January 31st, 2020 — by Philip Lott — Category: Environmental Law Flooding Miscellaneous

  • The Alaska Institute for Justice recently filed a complaint with the United Nations (UN) on behalf of five Tribal communities located in Alaska and Louisiana. The complaint alleges that the United States (US) government is responsible for human rights violations as a result of its failure to protect the Tribes from climate-caused land loss.


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  • Oh, Barnacles! Lawsuit Challenges Navy’s Ship Cleaning Activity in Puget Sound
  • July 25th, 2019 — by Amanda Nichols — Category: Environmental Law  Clean Water Act

  • In June 2017, the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Washington Environmental Council, and the Suquamish Native American tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Navy in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington alleging that its ship cleaning activity violated the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).


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  • New Jersey Enacts Public Beach Access Law
  • May 22nd, 2019 — by Amanda Nichols — Category: Environmental Law

  • On May 3, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill intended to protect the public’s access to state beaches. The legislation codifies the state’s public trust doctrine, which ensures that tidal waters and adjacent shorelines are available to the public for navigation, commerce, and recreation, including bathing, swimming, and fishing.


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  • Trump Administration Halts Plans for Offshore Drilling on Outer Continental Shelf
  • May 2nd, 2019 — by Amanda Nichols — Category: Environmental Law

  • On April 25, a new development in President Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda arose when the Department of the Interior confirmed that the current administration would not yet move forward with its plans to open virtually all federal waters to offshore drilling. This decision came in the wake of an Alaska District Court ruling issued in late March that denied President Trump’s attempt to overturn former President Obama’s Arctic and Atlantic drilling bans.


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  • Delta Flooding Revives Discussion of the Yazoo Backwater Pump Project
  • April 12th, 2019 — by Alex Dominguez — Category: Environmental Law  Flooding

  • Over the past several months, the state of Mississippi has been hit with severe rainfall, causing intense flooding, especially along the Mississippi Delta (Delta). Approximately 500,000 acres in the Delta are underwater, 200,000 of which is agricultural farmland. This rainfall has swelled the Mississippi River and its levees, including the Yazoo Backwater Levee, causing some to resurrect old discussions of the Yazoo Backwater Pumping Project.


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  • Key West Follows Hawaii’s Lead, Bans Sale of Certain Sunscreens to Protect Coral Reefs
  • February 8th, 2019 — by Catherine Janasie — Category: Environmental Law Water Quality

  • This week the City Commission of Key West voted 6-1 to ban the sale of sunscreens containing chemicals that could harm coral reefs. The banned chemicals are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can damage reefs by contributing to coral bleaching and death. Key West’s action follows legislation passed by the state of Hawaii last year which prohibits the sale of the same chemicals.


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  • Federal Court Prohibits Offshore Seismic Testing During Government Shutdown
  • January 24th, 2019 — by Amanda Nichols — Category: Environmental Law

  • On January 21, the U.S. District Court in South Carolina blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to continue preparatory work for offshore drilling during the federal government’s partial shutdown. This ruling comes in response to a decision from the Trump administration issued earlier this month that called back Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) workers to continue processing offshore seismic testing permits in the Atlantic. The testing, which involves loud airgun blasts underwater, is a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, and is opposed by many coastal communities in South Carolina due to its potential to cause environmental harm.


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  • No Remedy Yet for D.C. Residents with Sewage-Filled Basements
  • November 19th, 2018 — by Grace Sullivan — Category: Environmental Law

  • The twenty-one plaintiffs in the case of Miller v. D.C. Water and Sewer Authority are D.C. residents who had what a federal judge called “the distinct misfortune” of living on Delafield Place in November of 2016. At that time, the basements of each of the plaintiffs’ single-family homes were filled with more than two feet of raw sewage, including industrial and commercial waste. Plaintiffs described the eruption of sewage from their basement toilets as “overwhelming,” “nauseating,” and “terrifying.”


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