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Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jun 2023

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a plaintiff and the organization to which she belonged had standing, based on her claimed injury to her aesthetic well-being, to bring a Clean Water Act (CWA) citizen suit against a developer who had allegedly filled a wetland in violation of its permit, even though the plaintiff had never visited the wetland and even though the wetland was on private property not accessible to the plaintiff. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama concluded that acid mine leachate from a refuse pile …


Waiving Goodbye To Oil Spill Claims Against The United States: The Eleventh Circuit Creates A Narrow Exception To The Sovereign Immunity Waiver In The Suits In Admiralty Act Of 1920, Anika Akbar Jun 2023

Waiving Goodbye To Oil Spill Claims Against The United States: The Eleventh Circuit Creates A Narrow Exception To The Sovereign Immunity Waiver In The Suits In Admiralty Act Of 1920, Anika Akbar

Mercer Law Review

Costs related to oil spills can be extraordinary. Excluding the damage to the environment and to the vessel alone, a responsible party may incur containment costs, clean-up costs, cost of repairing public infrastructures, and fines and fees for causing the spill. Additionally, the owner of the spilling vessel also risks liability for lost profits to other businesses in the surrounding areas, including those that can no longer fish in the affected area. ...

On September 8, 2019, the M/V Savage Voyager (the Vessel) was pushing two tank barges laden with oil along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (the Waterway) when it approached …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble May 2022

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, in an issue of first impression, concluded that the United States is not a “person” under the contribution provision of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), and therefore the provision did not waive the sovereign immunity of the United States. For this and other reasons a plaintiff could not recover in contribution from the United States for the plaintiff’s costs of cleaning up an oil spill, even where the plaintiff alleged the spill was the result of the sole negligence of the United States. The United States District …


Who Gets The Drought: The Standard Of Causation Necessary In Cases Of Equitable Apportionment, E. Tate Crymes Dec 2021

Who Gets The Drought: The Standard Of Causation Necessary In Cases Of Equitable Apportionment, E. Tate Crymes

Mercer Law Review

More than just an amenity, “[a river] is a treasure” noted Justice Holmes in a dispute over the waters of the Delaware River. Water is a unique resource in that it is fluid and can move between borders of sovereign states. When water flows across state boundaries, there are often conflicts between the rights of the powerful upstream state and the vulnerable downstream state. Although water rights laws vary across the United States, most eastern states adopt the principle that the right to water is equal for both states. ...

In the Court’s most recent equitable apportionment decision, Florida II, …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2021

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a provision of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) that tolled statutes of limitation in state law claims did not apply to a claim brought under the Price-Anderson Act (PAA), providing an exclusive federal cause of action for harm resulting from exposure to radioactive materials, even though the PAA “borrows” all substantive law governing liability, including a relevant statute of limitation, from the law of the state where the harm occurred. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia found …


Fore! Are Private Golf Clubs Destroying The Purpose Of Conservation?, Davis D. Lackey Mar 2021

Fore! Are Private Golf Clubs Destroying The Purpose Of Conservation?, Davis D. Lackey

Mercer Law Review

A. Scope of Article

Undoubtedly, anyone who has ever stumbled across I.R.C. § 170 (“§ 170”)21 and the pertaining regulations knows that § 170 is a complex statute. The purpose of this Comment is to provide a broad sweeping, birds-eye-view narrative concerning a specific subsection of § 170. More precisely, the principal goal is to analyze what it means to make a contribution for conservation purposes under § 170(h)(4). This article seeks to raise important questions about the purpose of conservation easements as well as provide a practical discourse regarding the application of the Code.

This Comment involves three cases …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jun 2020

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

Notable cases decided in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in 2019 all arose out of disputes that originated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Eleventh Circuit held that, in preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in connection with its decision to issue a dredge and fill permit under Section 404 of the CWA, the Corps of Engineers (Corps) was not required to consider potentially negative environmental effects resulting from activity made possible by the permit where the agency had no authority independently to regulate the effects. The court also held that the Environmental Protection …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2018

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2017, district courts decided several issues that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit had never addressed. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia concluded that the Clean Water Act's (CWA) prohibition on the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States without a permit extended to discharges into groundwater with a "direct hydrological connection" to surface waters within the Act's scope. The court also concluded that a state-permitted land application system, whereby wastewater is sprayed onto fields as means of treatment and disposal, constituted a "point source" within the meaning …


The Right To Rainwater: An Unlikely Fairy Tale, Autumn R. Triplett Mar 2018

The Right To Rainwater: An Unlikely Fairy Tale, Autumn R. Triplett

Mercer Law Review

Everyone loves a good story, but what makes a story good?

First, a good story has a hero. Cinderella's fairy godmother helped her to realize her potential, Harry Potter saves the wizarding world once again, and rainwater changed our world. Of course this contention sounds strange, but if presented with the question of which natural resource is most vital to sustaining life on earth, most people would give the same answer: water. This is a statement that would likely be met with little resistance. That is because from a very early age, just like we are taught the importance of …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2017

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed, for the second time, whether the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) acted arbitrarily when it issued Nationwide Permit 21 (NWP 21), which authorizes dredge and fill activities by surface mining operations and applies differing standards to grandfathered operations and new operations. The court held that the Corps did not, and it upheld the permit. Also, the Eleventh Circuit held that the National Park Service did not act improperly under the Wilderness Act when it reduced the number of acres it considered to be eligible for designation as …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2016

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decided novel issues in two cases under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Inc. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the court held remand of a Corps of Engineers permitting decision for reconsideration without also vacating the permit is a remedy within the court's discretion and was appropriate under the circumstances. In Riverkeeper v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the court held appellate review of a non-final response by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a petition to withdraw Alabama's authority to administer the …


(Not So) Desperate Times Call For (Not So) Desperate Measures: The First Use Of Remand Without Vacatur In The Eleventh Circuit, Rebekah L. Hogg Jul 2016

(Not So) Desperate Times Call For (Not So) Desperate Measures: The First Use Of Remand Without Vacatur In The Eleventh Circuit, Rebekah L. Hogg

Mercer Law Review

In Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Inc. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, as a matter of first impression for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the court of appeals issued "remand without vacatur." In civil cases, remand without vacatur applies solely to suits questioning the validity of federal administrative regulations, and courts use this remedy sparingly. Just five circuit courts have applied remand without vacatur, and only the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has employed the remedy with any frequency. Black Warrior Riverkeeper involved two environmental groups alleging the Army …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Timble Jul 2015

Environmental Law, Travis M. Timble

Mercer Law Review

In 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, addressing an issue of first impression, rejected the district court's use of a Lone Pine case-management order as a means of testing the sufficiency of the plaintiffs' pleadings in a state law environmental torts case. The court also interpreted Florida law to mean that plaintiffs are not required to allege that groundwater contamination exceeded regulatory maximum contaminant levels for drinking water to maintain their claims and that they could recover "stigma" damages to their property without alleging actual contamination. The United States District Court for the Middle District …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2014

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected a challenge to the Navy's Undersea Warfare Training Range (Range) off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, based on potential impacts the Range could have to the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and other endangered species. The court held that the Navy and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) had met their obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA as amended and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA as amended thus far in the project. The court also decided two cases under the Clean …


Bad Neighbors And A Luckless Landlord: How The Clean Air Act Doomed The Environmental Protection Agency, Michael S. Weldon Jr. Jul 2013

Bad Neighbors And A Luckless Landlord: How The Clean Air Act Doomed The Environmental Protection Agency, Michael S. Weldon Jr.

Mercer Law Review

Air pollution emissions pay little deference to state borders: emissions generated in upwind State A may travel to affect the air quality of downwind State B. As a result of this inevitability and its unfair implications for the downwind state, under the Clean Air Act, upwind states have a "good neighbor" responsibility. Through the good neighbor provision, the upwind state may initially develop a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to determine its own mechanism for restricting emissions that contribute to a downwind state's nonattainment of federal regulations. In August of 2011, however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took matters into its …


The "Positive Effect" Escape Hatch: The Eleventh Circuit's New View Of The Catalyst Theory And The Resulting Difficulty For Plaintiffs To Receive Attorney Fees, Lindsay Schafer Jul 2013

The "Positive Effect" Escape Hatch: The Eleventh Circuit's New View Of The Catalyst Theory And The Resulting Difficulty For Plaintiffs To Receive Attorney Fees, Lindsay Schafer

Mercer Law Review

Environmental plaintiffs now have fewer opportunities to receive attorney fees in the wake of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit's decision in Friends of the Everglades v. South Florida Water Management District (Friends of the Everglades II). In this case the court further narrowed what plaintiffs' civil suits must accomplish to have a "positive catalytic effect." While many circuits, including the Eleventh Circuit, have focused on what it means for a party to be a "prevailing party" under various statutory schemes, and thus receive attorney fees, this case marks the first time the Eleventh Circuit has …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2013

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, deciding an issue of first impression, held that a party that enters a consent order to settle potential liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is not entitled to pursue a cost recovery action against other potentially responsible parties under section 107 of the Act, but may only seek contribution from those parties under section 113(f) of the Act. The court also affirmed a decision by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to approve an exploration plan for oil and gas drilling in the …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jun 2012

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the intervenors lacked standing to challenge on appeal a consent decree entered into by the main parties and approved by the district court in a Clean Water Act case. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, in a Clean Air Act case, excluded on Daubert grounds testimony of the government's experts purporting to establish that repair and replacement projects at several power plants in Alabama had in fact been major modifications to the plants that resulted in increased air pollutant emissions, which …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2011

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

Relatively few environmental cases were decided in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in 2010. The court decided a case holding that the portion of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, which funded a mile-long bridge in the Everglades, repealed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Endangered Species Act, and other environmental laws to the extent they applied to the construction project. Additionally, the court decided that the leadbased paint hazard warning required to be included in residential leases pursuant to the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act had to be reproduced in such leases …


Three Stories About Nature: Property, The Environment, And Ecosystem Services, Keith H. Hirokawa Mar 2011

Three Stories About Nature: Property, The Environment, And Ecosystem Services, Keith H. Hirokawa

Mercer Law Review

Property is the process of dividing the world into bits that may be subjected to private control. As such, how we understand the world, its characteristics, and its processes is very important. If, for instance, we think of water as an infinite resource that serves growth needs, we might not be concerned with how that resource is acquired, used, or even wasted. On the other hand, if we believe that water is a scarce and essential resource, we may find that an allocation scheme bears the weight of accomplishing many social and economic objectives. Nature matters because our understanding of …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2010

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In this survey period, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decided two cases addressing the scope of agency discretion to interpret statutes. In Friends of the Everglades v. South Florida Water Management District, the Eleventh Circuit held that the Environmental Protection Agency's adoption of the "unitary waters" definition of navigable waters under the Clean Water Act was reasonable even though that approach had been universally rejected by the courts as an interpretation of the statute prior to the agency's rule. In Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida v. United States, the Eleventh Circuit upheld …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2008

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2007 the Eleventh Circuit interpreted the United States Supreme Court's decision in Rapanos v. United States, regarding the federal government's jurisdiction over waters under the Clean Water Act ("CWA"), and held that in order for federal jurisdiction to exist over a water that is not navigable in fact, the water must have a "significant nexus" with a water that is navigable in fact. Also under the CWA, the court partially reversed a granting of summary judgment to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, holding that the department had improperly excluded some types of evidence in approving Florida's 2002 …


New Car Emissions Feared To Increase Global Temperatures, State Standing: Massachusetts V. Epa, Nick Bisher May 2008

New Car Emissions Feared To Increase Global Temperatures, State Standing: Massachusetts V. Epa, Nick Bisher

Mercer Law Review

As debate over global warming continues to intensify, the United States Supreme Court has taken steps to begin addressing the many interests asserted by private and public parties. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Court issued a landmark opinion that gives states the power to assert their rights under the Clean Air Act in federal court. The Court also ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying a petition to promulgate a rule establishing limits on new motor vehicle emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases ("GHGs") under the Clean Air Act. This decision …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2007

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In general, 2006 was a good year to be a defendant in environmental cases that reached the Eleventh Circuit. The court placed a narrow construction on operator liability for corporate parents under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") and backed agency interpretations of the Clean Air Act ("CAA") regulations in the face of challenges to their interpretation and use. In an issue of first impression, the court held that the agency's failure to carry out a nondiscretionary duty under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") constituted a one-time, and not a continuing, violation for purposes of applying the …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2006

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2005 the Eleventh Circuit courts addressed issues of regulatory interpretation of the Clean Air Act ("CAA"); compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA) in connection with the development of wetlands; and a conflict between the Federal Emergency Management Agency's ("FEMA") coastal flood insurance program and the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). First, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated a rule of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management that exempted certain stack emissions that otherwise violated the State Implementation Plan under the CAA. Also, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama heard one of several …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2005

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2004 courts in the Eleventh Circuit addressed several Clean Water Act issues. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals arguably expanded the scope of the injuries a plaintiff may allege to have standing to sue under the Clean Water Act. The court held that the federal court had jurisdiction over a Clean Water Act citizen suit alleging violations of a permit issued by the State of Georgia under its permitting program authorized under the Act. The Eleventh Circuit also addressed whether a Florida state regulation effectively revised or added to the state's Clean Water Act, which mandated water quality standards, …


Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble Jul 2004

Environmental Law, Travis M. Trimble

Mercer Law Review

In 2003 the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decided two cases concerning the Clean Air Act, holding that provisions allowing the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") to address compliance issues through the issuance of administrative compliance orders are unconstitutional and that the Clean Air Act does not waive the United States's defense of sovereign immunity in an action for punitive penalties for past violations of air pollution laws. The court also considered for the first time the circumstances under which a state enforcement action would preempt a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act. This Article also …


Who Gets The Hooch?: Georgia, Florida, And Alabama Battle For Water From The Apalachicola- Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, C. Hansell Watt Iv Jul 2004

Who Gets The Hooch?: Georgia, Florida, And Alabama Battle For Water From The Apalachicola- Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, C. Hansell Watt Iv

Mercer Law Review

During a time when technology is constantly changing and becoming more advanced, one of the constants that our planet, and all of the creatures on it, will always rely upon is fresh water. Throughout history, rivers have been the lifeblood that supports cities by providing drinking water, irrigation, transportation, trade, recreation, power, and many other industrial and domestic uses. As the human population grows, rivers and lakes are more pressured to support the growing needs of the communities and cities that rely on these bodies of water. Because many rivers in the United States flow across numerous states, problems develop …


Tree Preservation Ordinances: Sacrificing Private Timber Rights On The Diminutive Altar Of Public Benefits, Brian E. Daughdrill, Kathryn M. Zickert Mar 2001

Tree Preservation Ordinances: Sacrificing Private Timber Rights On The Diminutive Altar Of Public Benefits, Brian E. Daughdrill, Kathryn M. Zickert

Mercer Law Review

Georgia is a state dominated by its forests and forest industries. Forests have defined the state since it was settled in the 1730s. Early settlers of the state enjoyed both the bounty provided by Georgia's forests and the use of those forests as they cleared land and built homes. Early forest products, in addition to lumber, included naval stores, "a tar-like substance which was used to caulk the seams of wood ships;" and live oak "knees," curved portions of the tree used as deck supports in wooden ship building. Indeed, Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene, who had vast holdings on …


Environmental Law, W. Scott Laseter, Chintan K. Amin Jul 2000

Environmental Law, W. Scott Laseter, Chintan K. Amin

Mercer Law Review

Perhaps following broader legal trends, the Eleventh Circuit's environmental law decisions in this survey period suggest a rise in the importance of state law, both as it might impact enforcement of federal environmental programs and as a source of independent environmental remedies. As an example of the former, the court narrowed the extent to which the absence of a state-level program to implement the federal Clean Water Act's permit requirement shields a member of the regulated community from the obligation to obtain a permit. As an example of the latter, the court affirmed an award of $4,350,000 in punitive damages …