Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Category Archives: Land Use

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Sturgeon v. National Park Service: Supreme Court Sidesteps Federal / State Lands Conflict

Posted in Land Use, Litigation, Natural Resources, Rulemakings
A case originating in Alaska may have answered the question for those wondering how the United States Supreme Court will approach weighty questions of law and policy with a vacancy on the Court; it probably won’t. In Sturgeon v. National Park Service, 577 U.S.  (2016), the Court had the opportunity to address a monumental conflict… Continue Reading

Take Two! Frogs, Water, and the Endangered Species Act in Oregon

Posted in Land Use, Litigation, Northwest
In late December we reported on a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (“Center”) that alleges the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (“BOR”) is violating the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) through its operation and maintenance of the Crane Prairie and Wickiup dams and reservoirs in the Upper Deschutes River Basin. On January 11, 2016,… Continue Reading

Frogs, Water, and the Endangered Species Act in Oregon

Posted in Land Use, Litigation, Northwest
Oregon spotted frogs and their habitats are being harmed because of the way the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (“BOR”) operates and maintains some reservoirs in the Upper Deschutes River Basin, so asserts the Center for Biological Diversity (“the Center”) in a lawsuit filed against the BOR on December 18, 2015 in federal district court in… Continue Reading

ANWR News: The Fine Print of President Obama’s Executive Action to Create Over 12 Million Acres of Wilderness

Posted in Land Use
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is administratively implementing President Obama’s recommendation that certain lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska be designated as wilderness.  FWS is finalizing a management plan for ANWR that will treat more than 12 million acres of the area as wilderness for the next 15… Continue Reading

Model Remedies Under Washington’s Model Toxic Control Act – A Modest First Step for Impacted Soil Sites

Posted in Land Use
In December 2014, the Washington Department of Ecology (“Ecology”) issued a white paper discussing the status of its work toward developing “model remedies.”  In 2013, the Washington Legislature directed Ecology to establish these model remedies and the 2014 white paper discusses seven draft model remedies developed for sites with petroleum contaminated soil. Model remedies are… Continue Reading

California Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Aims to Provide Certainty for Renewable Developers: Draft Released

Posted in California, Land Use, Natural Resources
On September 23, 2014, the U.S Department of Interior and the State of California released a draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (“DRECP”), which covers over 22 million acres in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.  The DRECP proposes to protect environmentally-sensitive areas of the California desert while also… Continue Reading

As Wind Farm Industry Matures, Environmental Opposition Grows

Posted in Federal, Land Use, NEPA, Renewables
The wind farm industry has been the fastest growing element of the renewables in the US.  Despite the political obstacles facing developers, on-shore operations are expanding, and offshore operations are expected to kick off in the next few years along the East Coast.  An unwelcome sign of that success may be the increased scrutiny being… Continue Reading

DOI Secretary Jewell Announces Two Utility-Scale Solar Projects in California and Nevada

Posted in California, Electric Power, Federal, Land Use, Renewables
Secretary Jewell, of the Department of Interior, announced approval of two utility-scale solar projects located on the California-Nevada border. The Stateline Solar Project will be located in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California, and supply 300-megawatts of renewable energy to power 90,000 homes and create an estimated 400 jobs during constructions and 12… Continue Reading

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Concerns Extend to Solar Plants

Posted in California, Federal, Land Use, Natural Resources, Sustainability
By Gerald George The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has a famously broad scope, outlawing the taking of over 1000 species of birds, ranging from hummingbirds to robins and crows. It is also a criminal statute, although most violations are treated as misdemeanors subject to (not-insubstantial) fines.  Enforcement of the statute has been criticized as… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service says No to Alaska’s request for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Posted in Federal, Land Use, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (“ANWR”) is in the news again.  This refuge, set in the midst of some of the nation’s richest petroleum deposits, has been a source of contention and controversy since the passage of the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act (“ANILCA”) in 1980.  That Act greatly expanded the size of ANWR,… Continue Reading

BLM Revises Proposed Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety, Land Use, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Water Law
A recent advisory from DWT partners Glenn Benson and Barbara Jost: On May 16, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a revised proposed rule regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands for oil and gas production. In response to the more than 177,000 public comments submitted in… Continue Reading

The Alaska Constitution and Alaska Oil and Gas Projects

Posted in Land Use, Northwest, Oil & Gas
In the March 29th decision of Sullivan v. Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), the Supreme Court of Alaska held that the Alaska Constitution requires only one “best interest finding” (that an oil or gas project is in the state’s best interest) to be made before a lease is issued, though subsequent permitting decisions… Continue Reading

Oregon Land Use Bills Aim to Limit Wetland Restoration

Posted in Land Use, Northwest, Water Law
Three Oregon legislators have introduced bills on behalf of the Oregon Farm Bureau requiring land use permits for wetland restoration on farmland. As noted in this article, the Farm Bureau believes that this legislation is necessary to prevent restoration activities from taking land out of agricultural production. House Bill 2173 and Senate Bill 338 would… Continue Reading

Maximizing the Benefit of Appropriate Inquiry: CERCLA & Prospective Purchaser Considerations

Posted in CERCLA, Environmental Quality, Land Use
By: Larry Burke, Davis Wright Tremaine & John Foxwell, R.G., Ash Creek Associates As mentioned in Cheyenne Chapman’s Oregon State Bar Environmental and Natural Resources Section  E-Outlook article earlier this year (2012, Issue No. 3), Prospective Purchaser Agreements (“PPAs”) are an innovative approach to address barriers to the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites. According to… Continue Reading

EPA Moves Forward with Program for Safe Management of Used Electronics

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Land Use
Much attention has been given in recent years to the proper management of used electronics nearing the end of their lifecycles. Used electronics contain heavy metals and other toxic materials that may cause them to be regulated as hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when discarded. Additionally, numerous states – including… Continue Reading

Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy explores relationships between water and land use regulation

Posted in Land Use, Natural Resources, Northwest, Sustainability, Water Law
The Oregon Water Resources Department (“WRD”) recently released what WRD hopes will be the final draft of Oregon’s strategy to manage the state’s water resources. The 2009 Oregon Legislature required WRD to develop an “Integrated Water Resources Strategy” (“IWRS”) to protect water quality and ensure adequate water supplies. The IWRS seeks to promote better coordination among… Continue Reading

Future Use of Polluted Site May Affect Allocation of Clean-up Costs

Posted in Environmental Quality, Land Use
An owner who has incurred remedial action costs and then seeks to recover those costs from prior operators may not want to highlight its intended future use of the property.  In a recent environmental cost-recovery case, a Federal District Court assigned a 25 percent share to the owner, Yankee Gas, stating the most relevant consideration… Continue Reading

Proposed Settlement Between Environmental Groups and Federal Agencies Would Revise Procedures for Designation of Western Energy Corridors

Posted in California, FERC, Land Use, Northwest, Renewables
Procedures for designation of West-wide Energy Corridors pursuant to Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 are to be revised to allay concerns that (i) construction of energy-related facilities within such corridors would adversely affect environmentally sensitive areas and (ii) that procedures for designation of such corridors improperly support development of new coal-fired… Continue Reading

The U.S. Supreme Court Allows Another Lawsuit Challenging Federal Agency Action to Proceed Pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act

Posted in EPA, Federal, Land Use
Two months ago the Supreme Court allowed a lawsuit challenging an EPA wetlands determination to proceed under the Administrative Procedure Act, ruling against the federal government’s claim that further action was required before such a lawsuit.  See Sackett v Environmental Protection Agency, 566 U.S. ___ (2012).  On June 18, 2012, the Court again ruled against the federal… Continue Reading