On June 7, 2023, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register seeking input on its planned Ocean Justice Strategy (the “Strategy”). The RFI describes the Strategy as an effort to integrate environmental justice principles into ocean-related activities of the federal government. The Strategy could have wide-ranging impacts on the development of ocean energy resources.
On January 18, 2023, the Biden administration published its Final Rule revising the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Wetlands and waterways that meet the definition of WOTUS are protected by the CWA and subject to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s and Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction. However, the term is not defined in the statute. As such, the federal agencies’ interpretation of WOTUS determines which waters are subject to the CWA permitting requirements.
On August 17, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (the Court) vacated and remanded an order by the federal district court for the Western District of Louisiana (the District Court) of a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the Biden administration (the Government) from pausing oil and gas lease sales. The Court found that the District Court’s decision lacked specificity.
In the second quarter of 2022, the Biden administration took steps to implement the President’s whole-of-government environmental justice (EJ) strategy. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ or the Department), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency), and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) each announced initiatives to address EJ in a variety of agency functions. Additionally, the White House provided an update on funding available to disadvantaged communities. (more…)
On Thursday, June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in West Virginia v. EPA, holding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its statutory authority in adopting the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP). The 6–3 decision may limit EPA’s ability to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions comprehensively. A summary of the Court’s reasoning is set out below, followed by four “key takeaways.” (more…)
On February 18, 2022, the Biden administration launched two tools to address environmental justice.
Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN) 2.0
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) announced EJSCREEN 2.0, an update to the mapping tool, which the Agency uses to identify areas that may have higher environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. EPA uses EJSCREEN to inform several Agency functions, including permitting, enforcement, outreach, and compliance. (more…)
On Saturday, February 19, 2022, the United States appealed an injunction prohibiting federal agencies from adopting and relying on the interim Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas estimates established by the Interagency Working Group. (more…)
On February 11, 2022, Judge James Cain of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming (Plaintiff States) to prohibit federal agencies from adopting and relying on the interim Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas (SC-GHG) estimates established by the Interagency Working Group (IWG). Executive Order 13990 mandated that IWG publish estimates of the monetized damages associated with incremental increases in greenhouse gas emissions. (more…)
On January 5, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft Environmental Justice Action Plan. The Action Plan outlines measures that have been or will be implemented by EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) to address environmental justice (EJ) concerns in OLEM programs, including Superfund, emergency response, and risk management. (more…)
On Thursday, December 30, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule rescinding a Trump-era rule that changed EPA procedures for on-site inspections. The Trump-era inspection rule converted EPA civil inspection practices into rules that must be applied in all civil inspections. The December 30 recission “restor[es] the flexibility needed when carrying out civil inspections under a myriad of circumstances” by allowing inspectors to respond to site-specific conditions on a case-by-case basis. (more…)