Header graphic for print
Science, Law & the Environment Emerging Topics in Environmental Law

Category Archives: Natural Resources and Environment

Subscribe to Natural Resources and Environment RSS Feed

The View From The Pacific Northwest: What to Watch in Environmental Law and Policy Post-Inauguration, Part 3

Posted in Cleanup & Superfund, Fish Consumption, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory

Note: this is part 3 of 3 in my series of how the new administration may impact environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest. For background, please see Part 1 and Part 2. Sediment Cleanup Sites Things are moving quickly with the new administration. Since publishing Part 1 of this series on Monday, the… Continue Reading

The View From The Pacific Northwest: What to Watch in Environmental Law and Policy Post-Inauguration, Part 2

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Regulatory

Note: this is part 2 of 3 in my series of how the new administration may impact environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest. For background, please see Part 1. Tribal Relations One of the key factors influencing environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest is the presence of and obligations owed to… Continue Reading

The View From The Pacific Northwest: What to Watch in Environmental Law and Policy Post-Inauguration, Part 1

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Energy, Cleanup & Superfund, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory

On Friday morning, I boarded a plane in Chicago and by the time I touched down in Seattle, Trump had been sworn into office. We’ve received a number of questions from clients and friends asking us how the regime change will impact environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest. The quick answer is one… Continue Reading

Back to the Drawing Board: What’s Next for the Fish Consumption Rule in Washington State?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Natural Resources and Environment, Public Health Policy, Rule Making

I have written extensively on the efforts by the Washington Department of Ecology to revise Washington’s Water Quality Standards to account for a higher fish consumption rate. This summer was when we were supposed to see the final rule be submitted to EPA for review and possible approval. In a nutshell, the controversy around this… Continue Reading

What We Are Reading, October 3: Cement Plant Retrofits, Critical Habitat Land Grabs, and Job Losses Under the Clean Air Act

Posted in Clean Air Act, Endangered/Threatened Species, Natural Resources and Environment, Rule Making

This week has been a week of catching up, so some of this may be old news to you, but maybe you have a tall stack of things you aspire to read someday and you’ll have some sympathy… St. Mary’s Cement Inc. Against the EPA Out of the Sixth Circuit, by way of Michigan, a… Continue Reading

Pebble Mine Jumps the Gun on Challenge to EPA’s 404(c) Authority

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting

Ruling from the bench on Friday, Judge H. Russel Holland dismissed Pebble Limited Partnership’s claims that the EPA overstepped its authority in initiating proceedings under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. (The written opinion is here.) EPA advised Pebble Partnership by letter in February 2014 that it was beginning the process under 404(c) to review… Continue Reading

Water Resource Reform, Port Channels and Flood Control, Oh My!

Posted in Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Water Quality

At long last, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) is expected to be passed by the Senate today and signed by President Obama soon. The first water resources development bill was enacted in 1974 and was intended to be reauthorized every two years. It was consistently updated (except for a hiatus between 1976 and… Continue Reading

Breaking: Judge Coughenour Denies BNSF’s Motion to Dismiss in Suit Alleging CWA Violations for Discharge of Coal from Trains

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Water Quality

Yesterday, Judge Coughenour denied BNSF’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by various environmental groups under the Clean Water Act that alleges that BNSF has been discharging coal from rail cars without an NPDES permit. He did so without oral argument, finding that the 60 day notice letter sent by the plaintiffs to BNSF and others… Continue Reading

EPA’s Initiation of a Clean Water Act Section 404(c) Review for the Mining of the Pebble Deposit: What is the History of EPA’s Other 404(c) Determinations?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Last Friday, EPA announced that it is initiating review of the proposed mining of the Pebble deposit in Alaska under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, a little-used part of the CWA that allows EPA to “veto” Section 404 permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. As we briefly discussed over on Graham… Continue Reading

Elwha Dam Removal Update, February 2014: What Remains of the Dams?

Posted in Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Geeky Science Stuff, Natural Resources and Environment

It has been a while since my last dam removal update, and there is a lot to report. At the one year mark (September 2012), the lower dam had already been removed. Since that time, the area surrounding the dam has continued to be re-vegetated and the difference between September 2011 and September 2013 is… Continue Reading

The Courts Exit the Debate Over Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Sustainability

Last week, when the Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing en banc of the decision in Washington Environmental Council v. Bellon, it took what may be the final step to limit the role of courts in the debate over regulation to restrict carbon emissions. Bellon held that environmental plaintiffs do not have standing to sue to compel the Northwest… Continue Reading

Hope, Despair and the Challenges Going Forward: The IEA 2012 Report on World Energy Statistics

Posted in Energy Conservation, Natural Resources and Environment

USA Today had an article last week with the worst good news for carbon emissions that I’ve read in a while. The good news was that U.S. emissions fell to the lowest rate since the mid-1990s, dropping 200 million tons, or 3.8 percent. The bad news is that world carbon emissions rose by 1.4 percent in… Continue Reading

What Does Data Show About the Economics of Regional Cap-and-Trade?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Climate Change, Entrepreneurs, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business

Back before the recession, there was a major push in Washington State to adopt a state carbon cap-and-trade program as part of Washington’s membership in the Western Climate Initiative (WCI).  The argument was heated, and like most things these days tended to split on party lines with a gulf between the two.  Democrats generally argued… Continue Reading

Can a New Political Consensus be Found to Keep a 75-Year Supply of Natural Gas from Dooming Renewable Energy?

Posted in Capital and Funding, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Technology

In an April 12, 2012 article in the New York Times, Jad Mouwad wrote about the transformation in United States’ energy fortunes that is fundamentally changing much of what we thought we knew about domestic and international realities.  After decades of viewing ourselves as energy depleted, he writes, the United States now finds itself cutting… Continue Reading

EPA Gives Itself Three More Years To Figure Out A Tailoring Rule For Biomass Energy

Posted in Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

The Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq was adopted in the early 1960s to insure that business and industry does not spew pollutants into the air, causing harm to humans, plants and animals. Congress found that “the growth in the amount and complexity of air pollution brought about by urbanization, industrial development,… Continue Reading

One More (Baby?) Step Towards Aviation Fuel From Forest Biomass

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

Air travel is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions and a major consumer of fossil fuels.  As a result Boeing and Airbus, as well as European airlines, have made major investments in developing aviation biofuel.  In 2008 Boeing said that aviation biofuel would be a reality by 2011. Well, 2011 is here, but commercial… Continue Reading

CAN WE HAVE A SERIOUS CONVERSATION ABOUT THE COST OF CAP-AND-TRADE?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Climate Change, Entrepreneurs, Natural Resources and Environment, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business

Washington’s Department of Ecology recently issued a report entitled “Washington Western Climate Initiative Economic Impact Analysis,” which predicts that if the cap-and-trade program advocated by the Western Climate Initiative were adopted, the result would be an additional 19,300 jobs by 2020 and $3.3 billion increased economic output in the state product by 2020.  Presumably those… Continue Reading

What’s the Proper Accounting for Forest Off-Sets?

Posted in Green Building, Natural Resources and Environment, Sustainable Business

The American Forest Resource Council (AFRC) held its annual meeting two weeks ago, and as part of that meeting hosted the most heated debate on the proper accounting for carbon sequestration by forests, and the potential credit that forests in the United States may be entitled to that I have heard.  On one side, Mark… Continue Reading

Can Forest Biomass Solve Two Problems at Once? Or Will It Just Give Us Two Dead Birds?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Natural Resources and Environment, Sustainable Business

We like to think about killing two birds with one stone. Seems efficient. Burning forest biomass to create electricity is one of the potential solutions to reducing CO2 emissions and fossil fuel consumption. If forest biomass is grown sustainably, it can be produced indefinitely. Burning forest biomass also potentially creates the opportunity to improve forest… Continue Reading

Kerry-Boxer Bill – Part Two of a Many-Part Series: The Personal Transportation Sector

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment

The simple fact is that America’s love affair with the automobile has a whole lot to do with making us not only the largest producer of greenhouse gases but also the largest per capita producer of greenhouse gases in the world. [China’s race to become the second largest producer of greenhouse gases is fueled in… Continue Reading

Kerry-Boxer Bill – Part One of a Many-Part Series: Promoting Nuclear Power

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment

The pundits seem to be lost in an endless game of “how many ways can we say that governing is harder than it looked when President Obama was elected?” As any teenager would tell us, “well, duh!” It is clear that the President will not be able to march through nearly as much of his… Continue Reading

Utility Regulation If Global Warming Mattered

Posted in Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

In Washington, as in most states, privately owned public utilities are regulated by the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC). Utility regulation developed beginning in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, and reflected the battles of that era with the monopolistic power of railroads and utilities. As the nation first discovered the power and mobility… Continue Reading