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Energy and Environment Monitor

Climate Change

Supreme Court Takes Away EPA’s Toys

Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’ [b]ut it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in Section 111(d) [of the Clean Air Act].

- West Virginia v. EPA, 597 U.S. __ (June 30, 2022).

Thus, a…

The Superfund Excise Tax Is Returning Soon for the Chemical Industry.

Chemical companies need to prepare for the return of an excise tax on chemicals produced or imported that hasn’t been in effect for nearly 30 years.  In January 2022, the IRS published Notice 2021-66, related to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), which revives the excise taxes imposed on certain chemicals—previously known as the Superfund Chemicals taxes.  See https://www.irs.gov/…

Supreme Court Hears Argument on Scope of EPA’s Authority Over Power Plant Emissions

Introduction

On Monday, February 28, 2022, the Supreme Court heard a challenge to EPA’s authority to regulate CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants.  The challenge was spearheaded by West Virginia’s Attorney General and his Solicitor General.  If the Court rules on the merits, it will determine whether EPA’s authority to limit CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants is limited to regulating…

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Critical Habitat for Two Central Appalachian Crayfish

 

BACKGROUND

 

In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS” or “Service”) listed the Guyandotte River crayfish as endangered and the Big Sandy crayfish as threatened.  An explanation of those decisions and a map of their range in West Virginia, Kentucky and southwest Virginia may be viewed here.  In 2018, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the USFWS to force the designation of critical…

Two Sets of Climate Books? Is New York’s Claim Against Exxon Mobil Heating Up or Just a Lot of Hot Air?

       The New York Attorney General (“NYAG”) has sued Exxon Mobil (“Exxon”) for fraud and misrepresentation to its investors under a New York securities law known as the Martin Act. The NYAG contends that Exxon represented to the public that it was accounting for “projected carbon costs in evaluating its ongoing investments” using one value ($80.00 per ton of CO2 emissions) but that internally (and…

NRDC Claims WVDEP's Underground Injection Program for the Oil and Gas Industry is Deficient

The Natural Resource Defenses Council (“NRDC”), assisted by the West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization, has issued a report claiming that West Virginia’s groundwater is not adequately protected from underground injection. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/west-virginia-groundwater-underground-injection-report.pdf. The Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) program originated from…

The Promise and Perils of Clean Water Act Litigation

            On November 14th, a federal district court dismissed a lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the owners of the Vermillion power plant, a retired coal-fired facility on the banks of the Middle Fork in Vermillion County, Illinois.  Metals from coal ash were leaching from three unlined ponds into groundwater that flows to the Middle Fork, which happens to be both a federally and state…

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Kids' Climate Trial to Proceed

We have written before about this case where a group of children have sued the United States Government for its failure to protect them from the effects of climate change.  October 30, 2018.  In prior rulings, a federal district court judge in Oregon has rebuffed efforts by the United States to dismiss the case on the grounds that it presents non-justiciable “political” questions rather than…

EPA Puts Affordable Clean Energy Rules Out for Public Comment

On August 21, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) proposed the Affordable Clean Energy rule (“ACE”) as a replacement for the Obama Administration’s controversial 2015 Clean Power Plan (“CPP”), which EPA proposed to repeal because it exceeded the agency’s authority. On August 31, 2018, EPA officially published the proposed rule for public comment. See Fed. 83 Reg. 44746 (Aug. 31,…

WVDEP Moves to Dismiss Gas Producer Lawsuit Claiming "Flat Rate Statute" is Unconstitutional

We have previously written about a gas producer’s suit against WVDEP claiming that West Virginia’s “Flat Rate Statute” unconstitutionally impairs flat rate gas leases. In a flat rate lease, the producer pays a regular, often annual fee to the mineral owner rather than paying a royalty based on the amount of oil and gas that is produced. The history of flat rate leases in West Virginia is…

Update on Clean Power Plan Litigation

On September 7, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) filed a Status Report in the ongoing Clean Power Plan litigation (State of West Virginia v. EPA), which has been pending before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for two years. Link.

The Obama Administration first released a draft version of the “Clean Power Plan” rules for existing coal-fired electric generating plants in June of…

EPA Issues Guidance for States to Develop Permitting Programs for Coal Ash Disposal

On August 15th, 2017 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released and began accepting public comments on guidance for states that want to develop a permitting program for the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR), or coal ash. While the guidance does offer some flexibility to states in developing their permitting programs, state programs must be at least as protective as the Federal…

 

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