State leaders received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, released June 2, with mixed reactions. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback considers the new regulations on existing coal-fired power plants to be “more of the Obama administration’s war against middle America.” Kansas, like many...

Even though it has been a few weeks since the opinion was handed down, unless you happen to read Land Use Prof Blog you probably have no idea that the birth control mandate case is likely to affect land use regulation. 

As usual, on the last day of the Supreme Court’s term it released its opinion in the biggest case of the term:  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.  The Court held 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as applied to closely held corporations.  

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief, which Justice Ginsburg quoted in her dissenting opinion, because of the possible effect on land use. 

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A proposal to store nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron is drawing increased scrutiny and opposition, with Michigan lawmakers again weighing in with a new round of legislation and resolutions.
If its project is approved by Canadian regulators, Ontario Power Generation would build a 2,230-foot-deep geologic repository that would hold low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste.

Law and not policy is supposed to be the basis upon which courts decide cases.  Yet the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding permitting stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases is full of as much policy as law.  The Court’s bottom line is this:  The burdens on the states of giving EPA everything it wants are simply too much.

The Clean Air Act regulates pollution-generating emissions from stationary source (factories, power plants, etc.) and moving sources (cars, trucks, planes, etc.).  In 2007 in Massachusetts v. EPA the Court held EPA could regulate greenhouse gases emissions from new motor vehicles.  As a result of that case, EPA concluded it was required or permitted to apply permitting requirements to all stationary sources that emitted greenhouse gases in excess of statutory thresholds. 

In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA the Court held 5-4 that EPA cannot require stationary sources to obtain Clean Air Act permits only because they emit greenhouse gases.  But, the Court concluded 7-2, EPA may require “anyway” stationary sources, which have to obtain permits based on their emissions of other pollutants, to comply with “best available control technology” BACT emission standards for greenhouse gases. 

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fter the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes rules on reducing carbon emissions in mid-2015, states will have a year to develop a plan for reduction.

The goal is to reduce the “pollution to power ratio of covered fossil fuel-fired power plants in a given state,” Janet McCabe, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in a blog post explaining the rules.

If a statutes of repose bill comes across your desk your second question (after what is a statute of repose) will be why? You need to look no further than the Supreme Court’s decision in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger.

In this case the Supreme Court held 7-2 that the federal Superfund statute, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), does not preempt state statutes of repose.  So homeowners’ state law claims for water contamination against an electronics manufacturer will be dismissed.  Five states have repose periods (Alabama, Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon, and North Carolina). 

Environmental purists have long questioned the legitimacy of electric-powered vehicles as an alternative to the internal combustion engine because their batteries are often charged with a coal-powered source. Even though a battery-powered engine is more than three times as efficient as an internal combustion engine, the fact that coal is often one of the main sources of power charging the batteries of electric-powered vehicles remains a major point of contention for critics...

Many Western states have a noticeable percentage of federally controlled land intermingled with the state and private land within their borders. Federal ownership means the land is governed by federal rules and regulations. While the federal government makes efforts to ensure activities on federal lands complement adjacent land management, complexities abound. Multiple government processes, combined with the vast number of management acres and diverse user groups, creates a unique form of issues that affect more than just neighboring landowners.

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When they embarked on a two-year survey of the Great Lakes’ open waters, researchers expected to find a fair amount of plastics. But the sheer amount of the pollution, and the size of the plastic particles that were found, is what caught the attention of State University of New York Professor Sherri Mason and her research group. Their findings have, in turn, piqued the interest of state legislators.
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During the last year, residents of neighborhoods in Chicago and Detroit have had to deal with growing piles of petroleum coke, or petcoke. These piles were often left uncovered, allowing winds to disperse black dust into surrounding communities and nearby waterways.

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