Brydon Ross's blog
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District and overturned a decision made by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which found there could be a "discharge" under the Clean Water Act when water is moved from one part of a river to another. The Circuit Court originally agreed with environmental groups that concrete, channeled portions of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, which carry storm water from numerous other upstream municipalities, constituted a point source for a discharge of pollutants.
Numerous renewable energy tax incentives were extended as part of the 11th-hour legislation passed by Congress late last night to avoid the so-called "Fiscal Cliff." Among the bill's many provisions, perhaps the most high-profile in the energy arena was a one year extension of the 2.2 cents/kilowatt hour production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy that is estimated to be worth roughly $12 billion.
State leaders should expect energy and environmental issues to largely stay in the regulatory and legal arena in 2013 as fiscal issues will most dominate the attention of Congress. Market forces will also likely put upward pressure on the development of the country’s oil and natural gas resources, but could pose potentially complex oversight and budget issues for states. The substantial increase in natural gas supply and the current cheap price it enjoys could have long-lasting implications for the nation’s electricity mix as the use of coal-fired power declines and more stringent EPA air regulations are enforced. Lastly, as many states will continue to recover from the ravages caused by Hurricane Sandy opportunities will be presented to apply lessons learned to improve the resiliency of their energy infrastructure.
The New Jersey Senate Environment Committee recently approved legislation by a vote of 4-0 that would provide consumers a 5 cent rebate for each reusable shopping bag in a purchase as well as 5 cent penalty for each plastic bag needed at check out. The bill was modeled on a plastic bag tax and reusable bag incentive structure used in Washington D.C., which proponents have argued has reduced the amount of plastic bags found in the Anacostia River by 60 percent.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in favor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission determining that temporary flooding events caused by the federal government can be considered a "takings" under the Fifth Amendment. At issue was a long-standing legal dispute between the state agency and the Army Corps of Engineers over temporary flooding from water releases at a federal dam which killed timber in the Black River Wildlife Management Area in Northeast Arkansas.