Environment

CSG South

As the 2020 legislative cycle approaches, legislators across the South are preparing and pre-filing legislation to address emerging and relevant policy issues in their states. With its regional focus, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is uniquely positioned to identify and research current and emerging policy issues and trends. This report was prepared by Anne Roberts Brody, policy and program manager, and Roger Moore and...

In County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund the Supreme Court held 6-3 that when there is a “functional equivalent of a direct discharge” from a point source to navigable waters an appropriate permit is required under the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act forbids the “addition” of any pollutant “from a point source” to “navigable waters” without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. In this case the County...

In a 7-2 decision in Atlantic Richfield v. Christian the Supreme Court held that landowners located on a Superfund site who wanted additional remedies beyond the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to clean up the site could not sue in state court.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund statute, seeks “to promote the timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and to ensure...

CSG Midwest
Legislation in nearly every state in the region provides a purchasing preference to products manufactured or produced using recycled content. However, the extent of the preference varies, including whether the state has statutory language that spells out a price preference for bidders who offer recycled products.
Indiana, Kansas, Michigan and Minnesota are examples of states that specify a particular price preference. Indiana offers a price preference of between 10 and 15 percent for products containing recycled content, while Kansas provides a 5 percent price preference.
CSG Midwest
For lawmakers, the results of some legislative actions can be seen almost immediately — allocate funding to repair a road, for example, and it’s likely to get fixed soon. But there are other areas where the effects of a new state investment or policy only will be evident over the longer haul. In Minnesota, Rep. Rick Hansen says, that will be the case with his state’s commitment to pollinator conservation.
“Important work is often slow and results aren’t immediate,” he adds, “but you hope they are steady.”
Minnesota is leading the Midwest, and most of the nation, in efforts to protect and promote the population of pollinators. About one of every three bites of food we eat require direct pollinators, and indirectly, pollinators play a role in 75 percent of what we eat. The Midwest is home to thousands of pollinator species, including more than 400 species of native bees. But the pollinator population is at risk due to disease, the effects of pesticides, climate change and loss of habitat.
“Comprehensive policy work and habitat changes take time, something that may be limited for our pollinators,” Hansen says.
What can a state do to help? Starting in 2014, Minnesota has taken several steps, all with a focus “on supporting good science so that public dollars are used efficiently,” Hansen says.
CSG South

In recent years, Southern states have been inundated by major flooding events. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), annual flood records are expected to be broken again in 2020 and beyond. Taken together, these repeated flood events can create a significant and long-term strain on states’ economies, both in terms of tangible losses and damages, as well as lost productivity. This SLC Regional Resource...

The Flint water crisis was one of the more notable events of the last decade. Unsurprisingly, it led to litigation. So far, the Sixth Circuit has refused to dismiss the case against a number of the state and local government officials who were sued. This week the Supreme Court refused to hear their case challenging the Sixth Circuit...

CSG Midwest
With tens of millions in new state dollars to incentivize farmers, along with a list of best practices known to reduce phosphorus runoff, Ohio will spend the next two years implementing its most comprehensive effort to date to prevent harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
And it’s likely just the beginning of the commitment needed to tackle the problem.

Let’s hope Justice Kagan is wrong about this ominous prediction in her dissenting opinion in Knick v. Township of Scott: “today’s decision means that government regulators will often have no way to avoid violating the Constitution.”

In a 5-4 opinion the Supreme Court held that a property owner may proceed directly to federal court with a takings claim. In Knick the Court overturned Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City (1985), which held that before a takings claim may be brought in federal court, a property owner must first seek just compensation under state law in state court. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) amicus brief urged the Court to keep Williamson County.

The Supreme Court held 6-3 in Virginia Uranium v. Warren that Virginia’s statute prohibiting uranium mining isn’t preempted by the federal Atomic Energy Act (AEA).

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing for this result. The SLLC brief encouraged the Court to not inquire into the intent of the Virginia legislature in deciding whether the statute was preempted. Justice Gorsuch, writing for himself and Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh, went to such great length discussing “the perils of inquiring into legislative motive,” that Justices Ginsburg, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, only joined his plurality opinion as to its result (not its reasoning).

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