Some very interesting and fairly complex environmental law rulings have been released in the past few days.
U.S. Supreme Court—Trump, et al. v. Sierra Club, et al.
On July 31, 2020, in a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court denied a motion to lift the stay entered by the Court a few days earlier. The earlier action stayed a preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which had enjoined the construction of a wall along the Southern Border of the United States which was to be constructed with redirected Department of Defense funds. The merits will be addressed by the lower court and perhaps the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit—Meritor, Inc. v. EPA
In a case involving EPA’s administration of the Superfund National Priority List (NPL) of priority Superfund sites requiring expedited cleanup, the court held that EPA had acted in accordance with the law and its implementing rules, and denied relief. Meritor was spun off from Rockwell Corporation, and is responsible for Rockwell’s environmental liabilities, including sites Meritor never operated. In 2016, EPA added the Rockwell International Wheel & Trim facility in Grenada, Miss., to the NPL list. Meritor alleged that this listing was arbitrary and capricious, pointing to EPA’s failure to adequately consider the impact of a mitigation measure added to the facility to address vapor intrusion, a factor EPA must consider in its application of the agency’s hazard ranking system. However, the court was not impressed by these arguments, and denied relief. The court’s discussion of the nuances of the hazard ranking system is very instructive