Here are a few interesting new rulings from the federal appellate courts.
Like a Good Neighbor …? — State of Maryland v. EPA
On May 19, 2020, the D.C. Circuit decided a Clean Air Act case involving the use of the “Good Neighbor Provision” of the Act, which is triggered when one state has a complaint about emissions generated in a neighboring upwind state that settle in the downwind state. Here, Maryland and Delaware filed petitions with EPA seeking relief from the impact of emissions from coal-fired power plants that allegedly affect their states’ air quality. EPA largely denied relief, and the court largely upheld the agency’s use and interpretation of the Good Neighbor Provision. The opinion is valuable because of its clear exposition of this complicated policy.
A Volatile Underground Issue —Wayne Land and Mineral Group v. the Delaware River Basin Commission
Also on May 19, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a ruling involving the Delaware River Basin Commission. Established in 1961, the Commission oversees and protects the water resources in the Basin. Not long ago, the Executive Director of the Commission, citing a rule of the Commission, imposed very strict limitations on fracking operations in the Basin. This decision has been very controversial with the Third Circuit opining that the Commission’s authority to regulate fracking operations—thought to be a province of state authority—was not clear-cut. In this case, three Pennsylvania state senators filed motions to intervene in the case, but the lower court rejected their request. The Third Circuit has directed the lower court to take another look at their standing to participate in this litigation. This is a volatile issue in Pennsylvania.