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

Category Archives: Project Permitting

Subscribe to Project Permitting RSS Feed

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

Oregon Department of Lands: State of Wyoming Lacks Standing to Challenge Denial of Port Morrow Permit

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Project Permitting

Late last week, the Oregon Department of State Lands denied the State of Wyoming’s request to challenge the Department’s denial of Ambre Energy’s application for a removal-fill permit. (We were following this case at the end of August.) The Department said that Wyoming lacked standing because it had not shown how it would be adversely affected… 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

What We Are Reading on Friday, August 29th: Elwha River Dam Removal, Science Advice to Governments, Coal Export Developments, and More

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Geeky Science Stuff, Ocean Acidification, Project Permitting

Here is a quick roundup of what has caught my eye this week. First, the last 30 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River was removed in a spectacular blast at 4:12 pm on Tuesday. John Gussman, “Return of the River” filmmaker, documented the blast:

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

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

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

Keystone Pipeline (Part 2) Receives U.S. State Department’s “Blessing”

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, Regulatory

The U.S. State Department issued its final environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The study, which raised no major concerns, clears the way for the 875-mile pipeline project to proceed and, as some have noted, gives President Obama some political latitude to endorse it. The route has changed since the State Department’s… Continue Reading

Washington Sea Grant Releases Final Report to the Washington State Legislature on Geoduck Aquaculture Research

Posted in Emerging Policy, Project Permitting, SEPA, Shellfish Industry, Water Quality

Last week, Washington Sea Grant (“WSG”), the research institution based at the University of Washington tasked with funding marine research and coordinating outreach and education related to sustainable use of marine resources, released its final report to the state legislature regarding research conducted on geoduck aquaculture and impacts to the environment. For those of you… Continue Reading

Recent Developments in Acoustic Telemetry Studies of Salmonid Migration–Geeky Science Stuff Friday

Posted in Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Geeky Science Stuff, Project Permitting, SEPA

I’ve read a couple fascinating studies applying acoustic telemetry to salmonid migration here in the Pacific Northwest, and thought those would be good to share for a Friday morning link dump: First, and filed under geeky science stuff, ecologists from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have published a paper detailing their work… Continue Reading

The Intersection of Science, Facts, and Advocacy in the Age of “Truthiness”

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, SEPA, Truthiness

One of my pet peeves as a scientist and a lawyer is the distortion of scientific data or facts in advocating policy positions or making legal arguments. Stephen Colbert did a piece a while ago on “truthiness”-which he defines as something that “feels” right. Although the references to current events are now dated, this bit… Continue Reading

The Coal Export Fight: Negative Implications for Future Dam Removal?

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, SEPA, Uncategorized

This weekend, Lynda Mapes at the Seattle Times wrote an interesting article on the drop of barge traffic along the Lower Snake River, and how a shift from barge to rail as the means of shipping wheat from Idaho to foreign markets may take away one of the primary obstacles to the removal of four… Continue Reading

Coal Export Fight Update: Lawsuit Filed, EIS Scope Decided, Politicians Travel to D.C.

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, Public Health Policy, Uncategorized

Lots going on with the coal export fight — here is a quick update: Citizen Suit Update: On June 4th–the earliest possible date–the Sierra Club filed suit seeking to enforce the alleged violations of the Clean Water Act detailed in its notice letter sent to BNSF and others back in April. The case is before… Continue Reading

Coal Train Opposition in Seattle: Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg?

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Project Permitting, Sustainability

We’re a week away from a public meeting for the scoping process of the Gateway Pacific Terminal EIS, one of the proposed coal export terminals undergoing NEPA/SEPA review right now in Washington. As I’ve described earlier, these proposals may be the perfect storm of environmental issues: greenhouse gas emissions, transboundary pollution, vessel traffic in Puget… Continue Reading

Coal Exports from Washington: NEPA/SEPA Scoping Begins for the Millennium Coal Export Terminal

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, SEPA, Uncategorized

On Tuesday, the Washington Department of Ecology announced an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to jointly oversee the preparation of an environmental impact statement (“EIS”) for Millenium Coal’s proposal to develop a coal export terminal at the site of a former aluminum smelter in Longview, Washington. This MOU comes on the heels… Continue Reading

Dam Removal Update: Elwha River Restoration Project Hits One-Year Construction Mark

Posted in Endangered/Threatened Species, Energy Policy, Project Permitting, Water Quality

The demolition phase of the removal of two dams on the Elwha River is at the one-year mark, and the progress over the past year–after decades of planning–is stunning. For those of you outside of the Pacific Northwest that haven’t been following this project, it is a big deal. Two dams–built in the early 1900s–are… Continue Reading

Offshore Shellfish Cultivation: KZO Sea Farms Obtains Preliminary Corps Permit for Facility off Long Beach

Posted in Endangered/Threatened Species, Energy Policy, Project Permitting, Shellfish Industry, Sustainability, Water Quality

Last week, KZO Sea Farms obtained a preliminary permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for a 100-acre, offshore, shellfish farm in the Southern California Bight, approximately 9 miles offshore of Long Beach and outside of the 3-mile territorial limit of California’s state waters. The proposed project has the potential to farm two species of… Continue Reading