News & Resources

Environmental Articles


Environmental permits are documents that resemble licenses and are used to regulate activities that are potentially harmful to the environment. Government bodies that issue permits use them to track the types and qualities of pollutants released into the environment and to impose standards on permit holders.

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Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Protecting the environment is a serious matter, and the EPA and other federal and state enforcement agencies do not hesitate to prosecute individuals or companies who violate the laws and regulations that prohibit actions, which adversely affect the environment. Sometimes, it helps to be reminded of what can happen if laws are ignored by learning from those who previously violated the law. The following are summaries of actions taken by the EPA against violators of environmental laws.

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Environmental Law Case Summaries

[03/20] The Hopi Tribe v. US Environmental Protection Agency
In a petition for review brought by a Tribe challenging the EPA's federal implementation plan under the Clean Air Act for the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, which concerned the production of haze that hinders clear views of the Grand Canyon, the petition is denied over the Tribe's contention that the contention that the EPA failed to analyze each of the five BART factors -- the 'best available retrofit technology' to reduce emissions from the Station, where the Tribe's exclusion from a Technical Working Group, which was a group of stakeholders that developed the proposed Rule, did not violate a duty on the part of the Government to consult with the Tribe.

[03/20] Yazzie v. US Environmental Protection Agency
In petitions for review brought by tribal conservation organizations and nonprofit environmental organizations challenging the EPA's source-specific federal implementation plan (FIP) under the Clean Air Act for the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona, the petitions are denied where: 1) the federal government's partial ownership of the station did not eliminate any deference to the EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act and its implementing regulations; 2) the FIP was not subject to the Clean Air Act's five-year deadline to implement best available retrofit technology (BART) because the FIP promulgated a 'better than BART' alternative -- not BART; and 3) it was reasonable for the EPA to give the Station an emission credit when evaluating if the BART alternative 'results in greater emission reductions,' 40 C.F.R. section 51.308(e)(3), than BART.

[03/15] Berkshire Environmental Action v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.
In an unusual petition for review arising out of a state administrative proceeding, involving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) grant of a certificate of public convenience and necessity required under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), the petition is dismissed where, because the agency itself has not yet finally acted on the matter that is before the court, there is no jurisdiction under 15 U.S.C. section 717r(d)(1).

[03/15] Residents Against Specific Plan 380 v. Co. of Riverside
In an appeal from a judgment denying plaintiff's petition for a writ of mandate challenging the decision of the County of Riverside to approve development of a master-planned community put forward as Specific Plan 380 by real party in interest, and asserting the County failed to comply with procedural, informational, and substantive provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the denial of the petition is affirmed where: 1) the County properly approved the project after the plan was modified; 2) the County properly adopted findings, a statement of overriding considerations, and a mitigation plan concurrently with its approval; 3) the Notice of Determination errors do not justify unwinding the County's approval of the project; 4) the County did not err in its decision not to recirculate the EIR; 5) the EIR adequately analyzes impacts of uses in the mixed use area; and 6) the EIR adequately considered specific suggestions for mitigating the impact of the project on air quality and noise levels.

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