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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Lawlessness Of Sackett V. Epa, William W. Buzbee Jan 2024

The Lawlessness Of Sackett V. Epa, William W. Buzbee

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

When the Supreme Court speaks on a disputed statutory interpretation question, its words and edicts undoubtedly are the final judicial word, binding lower courts and the executive branch. Its majority opinions are the law. But the Court’s opinions can nonetheless be assessed for how well they hew to fundamental elements of respect for the rule of law. In particular, law-respecting versus law-neglecting or lawless judicial work by the Court can be assessed in the statutory interpretation, regulatory, and separation of power realms against the following key criteria, which in turn are based on some basic rule of law tenets: analysis …


Fears, Faith, And Facts In Environmental Law, William W. Buzbee Jan 2024

Fears, Faith, And Facts In Environmental Law, William W. Buzbee

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Environmental law has long been shaped by both the particular nature of environmental harms and by the actors and institutions that cause such harms or can address them. This nation’s environmental statutes remain far from perfect, and a comprehensive law tailored to the challenges of climate change is still elusive. Nonetheless, America’s environmental laws provide lofty, express protective purposes and findings about reasons for their enactment. They also clearly state health and environmental goals, provide tailored criteria for action, and utilize procedures and diverse regulatory tools that reflect nuanced choices.

But the news is far from good. Despite the ambitious …


Temporary Nuclear Waste Siting Is A Major Problem But Not A Major Question, Dylan Cohen Sep 2023

Temporary Nuclear Waste Siting Is A Major Problem But Not A Major Question, Dylan Cohen

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Mitigating global warming requires robust change in the country’s energy policy. One area ripe for such change is nuclear waste storage, which has long confounded the federal government. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) seems to have found a solution. It empowered private industry. But it might have run into a problem: the major questions doctrine. Though the major questions doctrine can indeed operate to constrain overzealous agencies, the NRC has acted within its authority, and private industry—by virtue of its Executive-branch grant of authority—should be allowed to help.


The Case Against Regional Transmission Monopolies, Kristen Van De Biezendos Jan 2023

The Case Against Regional Transmission Monopolies, Kristen Van De Biezendos

Faculty Scholarship

Over the next decade, the United States will need to build significant regional transmission infrastructure to achieve the country’s goal of net-zero power by 2035. However, there is a significant barrier: the transmission system is almost entirely owned by private monopolies. As a result, the grid has grown not to serve the public interest but in accordance with the economic priorities of these monopolies, which are not incentivized to innovate, find efficiencies, or lower costs. Past attempts to encourage competitive bidding for regional transmission projects have been stymied by laws intended to protect the monopolies, including the right of first …


The Exoskeleton Of Environmental Law: Why The Breadth, Depth And Longevity Of Environmental Law Matters For Judicial Review, Sanne H. Knudsen Jan 2023

The Exoskeleton Of Environmental Law: Why The Breadth, Depth And Longevity Of Environmental Law Matters For Judicial Review, Sanne H. Knudsen

Articles

Environmental law is pragmatic, inevitable, and intentional. In the aggregate, the numerous federal environmental statutes are not simply a patchwork of ad hoc responses or momentary political breakthroughs to isolated public health problems and resource concerns. Together, they are a group of repeated, legislatively-backed commitments to embrace self-restraint for self-preservation.

Self-restraint and discipline are the essence of environmental law. Indeed, if one studies the patterns and repeated choices in environmental law 's many statutory texts, one can start to appreciate environmental law 's indispensable role in society: it serves as an enduring "exoskeleton," a sort of protective armor created over …


The Antiregulatory Arsenal, Antidemocratic Can(N)Ons, And The Waters Wars, William W. Buzbee Dec 2022

The Antiregulatory Arsenal, Antidemocratic Can(N)Ons, And The Waters Wars, William W. Buzbee

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Clean Water Act has become a centerpiece in an enduring multifront battle against both environmental regulation and federal regulatory power in all of its settings. This Article focuses on the emergence, elements, and linked uses of an antiregulatory arsenal now central to battles over what are federally protected “waters of the United States.” This is the key jurisdictional hook for CWA jurisdiction, and hence, logically, has become the heart of CWA contestation. The multi-decade battle over Waters protections has both drawn on emergent antiregulatory moves and generated new weapons in this increasingly prevalent and powerful antiregulatory arsenal. This array …


Unheralded And Transformative: The Test For Major Questions After West Virginia, Natasha Brunstein, Donald L. R. Goodson Oct 2022

Unheralded And Transformative: The Test For Major Questions After West Virginia, Natasha Brunstein, Donald L. R. Goodson

William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review

Before the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in West Virginia v. EPA, the “major questions doctrine” was little more than a handful of cases that shared a few overlapping similarities. Although the Court explained in West Virginia that these “extraordinary” cases were all ones in which an agency had asserted “highly consequential power beyond what Congress could reasonably be understood to have granted,” the Court did not apply a consistent analysis across these earlier precedents. In other words, the doctrine lacked a framework to guide lower courts and litigants.

To our knowledge, no article written since West Virginia has explored …


Whither The Lofty Goals Of The Environmental Laws?: Can Statutory Directives Restore Purposivism When We Are All Textualists Now?, Stephen M. Johnson Mar 2022

Whither The Lofty Goals Of The Environmental Laws?: Can Statutory Directives Restore Purposivism When We Are All Textualists Now?, Stephen M. Johnson

Pepperdine Law Review

Congress set ambitious goals to protect public health and the environment when it enacted the federal environmental laws through bipartisan efforts in the 1970s. For many years, the federal courts interpreted the environmental laws to carry out those enacted purposes. Over time, however, courts greatly reduced their focus on the environmental and public health purposes of the environmental laws when interpreting those statutes due to the rise in textualism, the declining influence of the Chevron doctrine, and the increasing willingness of courts to defer to agency underenforcement of statutory responsibilities across all regulatory statutes. In 2020, the Environmental Protection Network, …


On Foxes And Hedgehogs, Roger P. Alford Jan 2022

On Foxes And Hedgehogs, Roger P. Alford

Journal Articles

This Article is about John Nagle’s many means to one great end. It will outline the many themes of his scholarship: (i) environmental law, (ii) statutory interpretation, (iii) constitutional law, (iv) nuisance and pollution, (v) election law and campaign finance, (vi) Christianity and the environment, and (vii) national parks. It will offer conclusions on how he used his scholarly interests as a means to pursue his overarching worldview.


Resolving "Resolved": Covenants Not To Sue And The Availability Of Cercla Contribution Actions, Jacob Podell Oct 2020

Resolving "Resolved": Covenants Not To Sue And The Availability Of Cercla Contribution Actions, Jacob Podell

Michigan Law Review

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)—as part of its dual goals of cleaning up hazardous-waste sites and ensuring that the polluter pays for that cleanup—gives private parties two mutually exclusive causes of action: cost recovery and contribution. Contribution is available in limited circumstances, including if the party has “resolved” its liability with the government. But CERCLA does not define this operative term. Federal courts are split over how the structure of a settlement resolves liability. Several courts follow Bernstein v. Bankert, which held that any conditions precedent and nonadmissions of liability strongly suggest that a party …


Fun With Reverse Ejusdem Generis, Jay D. Wexler Oct 2019

Fun With Reverse Ejusdem Generis, Jay D. Wexler

Faculty Scholarship

In the canon of statutory construction canons, perhaps no canon is more canonical than the canon known as ejusdem generis. This canon, which translates as “of the same kind,” states that when a statute includes a list of terms and a catch-all phrase, the set of items covered by the catch-all phrase is limited to the same kind or type of items that are in the list. The canon of ejusdem generis has a long and storied history in the law, has been used by judges in countless cases, and has been the subject of a large body of scholarly …


Agency Statutory Abnegation In The Deregulatory Playbook, William W. Buzbee May 2019

Agency Statutory Abnegation In The Deregulatory Playbook, William W. Buzbee

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

If an agency newly declares that it lacks statutory power previously claimed, how should such a move—what this article calls agency statutory abnegation—be reviewed? Given the array of strategies an agency might use to make a policy change or move the law in a deregulatory direction, why might statutory abnegation be chosen? After all, it is always a perilous and likely doctrinally disadvantageous strategy for agencies. Nonetheless, agencies from time to time have utilized statutory abnegation claims as part of their justification for deregulatory shifts. Actions by agencies during 2017 and 2018, under the administration of President Donald J. Trump, …


More Than Birds: Developing A New Environmental Jurisprudence Through The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Patrick G. Maroun Jan 2019

More Than Birds: Developing A New Environmental Jurisprudence Through The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Patrick G. Maroun

Michigan Law Review

This year marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of the oldest environmental regulatory statutes in the United States. It is illegal to “take” or “kill” any migratory bird covered by the Act. But many of the economic and industrial assumptions that undergirded the Act in 1918 have changed dramatically. Although it is undisputed that hunting protected birds is prohibited, circuit courts split on whether so-called “incidental takings” fall within the scope of the Act. The uncertainty inherent in this disagreement harms public and private interests alike—not to mention migratory birds. Many of the most important environmental …


Atomizing The Clean Water Act: Ignoring The Whole Statute And Asking The Wrong Questions, Robert W. Adler, Brian House Jan 2019

Atomizing The Clean Water Act: Ignoring The Whole Statute And Asking The Wrong Questions, Robert W. Adler, Brian House

Utah Law Faculty Scholarship

When attempting to resolve difficult issues of statutory construction involving complex statutes, courts sometimes focus on individual words and phrases without evaluating how they fit within the text and structure of the whole statute. We call this “atomization” of the statutory text. Judges have fallen into this trap in construing the Clean Water Act (CWA) and other lengthy, complex federal environmental statutes. That tendency contributes to ongoing confusion about the scope and coverage of the CWA. During the 2019-2020 Term, the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve a circuit split in the most recent line of cases exhibiting this tendency. Courts …


Superfund Chaos Theory: What Happens When The Lower Federal Courts Don't Follow The Supreme Court, Steven Ferrey Oct 2016

Superfund Chaos Theory: What Happens When The Lower Federal Courts Don't Follow The Supreme Court, Steven Ferrey

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

There is legal chaos in the national Superfund. The Supreme Court reversed decisions of eleven federal circuit courts in United States v. Atlantic Research Corp. There is no instance in modern Supreme Court history where the Court reversed every federal circuit court in the country, as it did in Atlantic Research. The Supreme Court’s reversal was through a unanimous decision. This was extraordinary: It not only reversed the entire legal interpretation of one of America’s most critical statutes, but also re-allocated billions of dollars among private parties.

The Supreme Court, when it rendered its decision, seemed to be rectifying a …


Plain Meaning, Precedent, And Metaphysics: Lessons In Statutory Interpretation From Analyzing The Elements Of The Clean Water Act Offense, Jeffrey G. Miller Jan 2016

Plain Meaning, Precedent, And Metaphysics: Lessons In Statutory Interpretation From Analyzing The Elements Of The Clean Water Act Offense, Jeffrey G. Miller

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

This Article, the fifth in a series of five, completes the author’s detailed analysis of how federal courts have interpreted each element of the Clean Water Act (CWA) offense. Compiling statistics across the four prior articles, it draws conclusions about statutory interpretation in general, finding that the depth of legal analysis increases with the level of court; that environmentally positive results decrease with the level of court; that courts use only a small number of canons and other interpretive devices; that their uses of interpretive devices change over time; and that interpretive devices are not all outcome-neutral. The author also …


Take It To The Limit: The Illegal Regulation Prohibiting The Take Of Any Threatened Species Under The Endangered Species Act, Jonathan Wood Aug 2015

Take It To The Limit: The Illegal Regulation Prohibiting The Take Of Any Threatened Species Under The Endangered Species Act, Jonathan Wood

Jonathan Wood

The Endangered Species Act forbids the “take” – any activity that adversely affects – any member of an endangered species, but only endangered species. The statute also provides for the listing of threatened species, i.e. species that may become endangered, but protects them only by requiring agencies to consider the impacts of their projects on them. Shortly after the statute was adopted, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service reversed Congress’ policy choice by adopting a regulation that forbids the take of any threatened species. The regulation is not authorized by the Endangered Species Act, but …


Can An Oil Pit Take A Bird?: Why The Migratory Bird Treaty Act Should Apply To Inadvertent Takings And Killings By Oil Pits, Monica B. Carusello Apr 2015

Can An Oil Pit Take A Bird?: Why The Migratory Bird Treaty Act Should Apply To Inadvertent Takings And Killings By Oil Pits, Monica B. Carusello

Monica B Carusello

No abstract provided.


The Enforceability Of Exacted Conservation Easements, Jessica Owley Jan 2011

The Enforceability Of Exacted Conservation Easements, Jessica Owley

Journal Articles

The use of exacted conservation easements is widespread. Yet, the study of the implications of their use has been minimal. Conservation easements are nonpossessory interests in land restricting a landowner’s ability to use her land in an otherwise permissible way, with the goal of yielding a conservation benefit. Exacted conservation easements arise in permitting contexts where, in exchange for a government benefit, landowners either create conservation easements on their own property or arrange for conservation easements on other land.

To explore the concern associated with the enforceability of exacted conservation easements in a concrete way, this article examines exacted conservation …


Establishing A "Due Care" Standard Under The Lacey Act Amendments Of 2008, Rachel Saltzman Sep 2010

Establishing A "Due Care" Standard Under The Lacey Act Amendments Of 2008, Rachel Saltzman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Lacey Act was first enacted in 1900 as a narrow measure for domestic bird preservation and agriculture protection. It was significantly amended in 1981 and 1988 to prohibit trafficking in fish and wildlife "taken, possessed, transported, or sold" in violation of state and foreign laws. For the past three decades, the amended statute has provided the federal government with a powerful tool for regulating imports of fish and wildlife. In 2008 Congress expanded its reach still further, responding to widespread concern about the effects of illegal logging on local governance, the environment, and American business by extending the Act's …


The Politics Of Nature: Climate Change, Environmental Law, And Democracy, Jedediah S. Purdy Jan 2010

The Politics Of Nature: Climate Change, Environmental Law, And Democracy, Jedediah S. Purdy

Faculty Scholarship

Legal scholars’ discussions of climate change assume that the issue is one mainly of engineering incentives, and that “environmental values” are too weak, vague, or both to spur political action to address the emerging crisis. This Article gives reason to believe otherwise. The major natural resource and environmental statutes, from the acts creating national forests and parks to the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, have emerged from precisely the activity that discussions of climate change neglect: democratic argument over the value of the natural world and its role in competing ideas of citizenship, national purpose, and the role and …


Chevron'S Two Steps, Kenneth A. Bamberger, Peter L. Strauss Jan 2009

Chevron'S Two Steps, Kenneth A. Bamberger, Peter L. Strauss

Faculty Scholarship

The framework for judicial review of administrative interpretations of regulatory statutes set forth in the landmark Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council decision prescribes two analytic inquiries, and for good reason. The familiar two-step analysis is best understood as a framework for allocating interpretive authority in the administrative state; it separates questions of statutory implementation assigned to independent judicial judgment (Step One) from questions regarding which the courts role is limited to oversight of agency decisionmaking (Step Two).

The boundary between a reviewing court's decision and oversight roles rests squarely on the question of statutory ambiguity. For while courts, …


An Empirical Investigation Of Judicial Decisionmaking, Statutory Interpretation, And The Chevron Doctrine In Environmental Law, Jason J. Czarnezki Jan 2008

An Empirical Investigation Of Judicial Decisionmaking, Statutory Interpretation, And The Chevron Doctrine In Environmental Law, Jason J. Czarnezki

University of Colorado Law Review

How do courts evaluate decisions of statutory interpretation made by government agencies that deal in environmental law? While research on judicial decisionmaking in environmental law has primarily focused on the D.C. Circuit, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the influence of ideology, only recently have legal scholars begun to consider the role of legal factors in judicial decisionmaking in environmental law. With special attention paid to how courts implement the Chevron doctrine, this Article empirically and doctrinally analyzes environmental law cases decided in the United States Courts of Appeals over a threeyear period (2003-05) to investigate what factors, including ideological, legal, …


Friends Of The Earth, Inc. V. Epa: The Daily Plunge Into Troubled Waters, Rachel L. Stern Jan 2008

Friends Of The Earth, Inc. V. Epa: The Daily Plunge Into Troubled Waters, Rachel L. Stern

Villanova Environmental Law Journal

No abstract provided.


From "Navigable Waters" To "Constitutional Waters": The Future Of Federal Wetlands Regulation, Mark Squillace Jul 2007

From "Navigable Waters" To "Constitutional Waters": The Future Of Federal Wetlands Regulation, Mark Squillace

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Wetlands regulation in the United States has a tumultuous history. The early European settlers viewed wetlands as obstacles to development, and they drained and filled wetlands and swamps at an astounding rate, often with government support, straight through the middle of the twentieth century. As evidence of the ecological significance of wetlands emerged over the last several decades, programs to protect and restore wetlands became prominent. Most notable among these is the permitting program under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. That provision prohibits dredging or filling of "navigable waters, " defined by law to mean "waters of the …


Slides: The Future Of Oil And Gas Development On Federal Lands, Mike Chiropolos Jun 2007

Slides: The Future Of Oil And Gas Development On Federal Lands, Mike Chiropolos

The Future of Natural Resources Law and Policy (Summer Conference, June 6-8)

Presenter: Mike Chiropolos, Lands Program Director, Western Resource Advocates

44 slides


Opening The Floodgates: The Roberts Court's Decision In Rapanos V. United States Spells Trouble For The Future Of The Waters Of The United States, Bill Currie Jan 2007

Opening The Floodgates: The Roberts Court's Decision In Rapanos V. United States Spells Trouble For The Future Of The Waters Of The United States, Bill Currie

Villanova Environmental Law Journal

No abstract provided.


Knox V. United States Department Of Labor: The Potentially Risky Business Of Interpreting Asbestos Statutes, Jessica J. Suh Jan 2007

Knox V. United States Department Of Labor: The Potentially Risky Business Of Interpreting Asbestos Statutes, Jessica J. Suh

Villanova Environmental Law Journal

No abstract provided.


Rag Cumberland V. Dep: An Agency's Volte-Face Statutory Interpretation - When Do Courts Stop Deferring And Start Judicial Interpretation, Dennis C. Lumia Jan 2007

Rag Cumberland V. Dep: An Agency's Volte-Face Statutory Interpretation - When Do Courts Stop Deferring And Start Judicial Interpretation, Dennis C. Lumia

Villanova Environmental Law Journal

No abstract provided.


Waters Of The United States: Theory, Practice And Integrity At The Supreme Court, Jamison E. Colburn Jul 2006

Waters Of The United States: Theory, Practice And Integrity At The Supreme Court, Jamison E. Colburn

ExpressO

In the Supreme Court's two wetlands cases this Term, a question of statutory interpretation divided the justices sharply, in part because so much rides on the particular statutory provision at issue. The provision, a cryptic definition within the Clean Water Act (CWA), has now provided three separate occasions at the Court where the justices have confronted (1) the Chevron doctrine and the Court’s own ambivalence toward it, and (2) the CWA's enormous project of restoring the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. In this essay, I argue that the way the Court went about resolving its differences …