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  • Court Filings

    Court Vacates Delays of Department of Education’s Borrower Defense Rule

    September 17, 2018

    A United States District Judge recently ruled that the Department of Education’s repeated delays of the Borrower Defense Rule were illegal. We submitted an amicus brief in this case. This 2016 regulation was designed to help students who have been defrauded by for-profit educational institutions discharge their federal student loans. Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education delayed implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule three times, prompting a legal challenge.

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  • Court Filings

    Positive Ruling in Case on BLM Climate Impacts Leasing

    August 3, 2018

    A District of Montana judge recently ordered that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) must update two resource management plans (RMPs) for the Powder River Basin in order to better assess the plans’ climate impacts. Dr. Peter Howard, our Economics Director, submitted an expert declaration in the case in May on the environmental, public health, and social welfare costs of the RMPs, focusing on the social cost of greenhouse gases metric. The suit was brought by the Western Organization of Resource Councils, with other NGOs, against BLM for failing to conduct a sufficient analysis of the climate effects of possible fossil fuel leasing, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. Because almost half of the country’s coal is mined in the Powder River Basin, there are significant greenhouse gas emissions implications for mineral leasing in the area.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief to SCOTUS on Economic Impact of Conservation Designations

    July 6, 2018

    We recently filed, in a case before the Supreme Court, a brief on the role of ancillary and unquantified benefits in cost-benefit analysis for environmental policy. The Fish and Wildlife Service, in declaring critical habitat designation areas for the dusky gopher frog, decided to not exclude some private land from the designation after qualitatively assessing the direct and indirect costs and benefits of the designation.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief on Repeal of Interior’s Valuation Rule

    June 25, 2018

    In 2016, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) issued the Consolidated Federal Oil & Gas and Federal & Indian Coal Valuation Reform (Valuation Rule). The Valuation Rule sought to ensure that states and the federal government receive the full value of royalties due under the law for oil, gas, and coal extracted from public land. In 2017, ONRR abruptly reversed course and repealed the rule. State attorneys general have now sued ONRR over the repeal and filed a motion for summary judgment. In our brief supporting the plaintiffs, we argue that ONRR did not provide a reasoned explanation for repealing the Valuation Rule, both because ONRR fails to accurately assess the repeal’s economic impact and because ONRR fails to provide a reasoned explanation for its abrupt change in course.

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  • Court Filings

    Expert Declaration on Using the Social Cost of Carbon in Environmental Assessments

    May 25, 2018

    Fossil fuel development causes significant harm to the environment and human health, and our work continues to push for public disclosure of these harms. Dr. Peter Howard, our economics director, submitted a declaration on the environmental, public health, and social welfare costs of two resource management plans finalized in 2015 by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Montana and Wyoming. Part of a suit against BLM by the Western Organization of Resource Councils, this declaration was presented alongside declarations from other noted climate experts, including Dr. James Hansen. Dr. Howard found that the air pollution and greenhouse gases emitted during the extraction, processing, transportation, and combustion of 11 billion tons of coal and oil and gas from thousands of wells at these two regions will cause more than $802 billion in damages between 2018 and 2028.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief on Department of Education’s Borrower Defense Rule

    May 11, 2018

    Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education has delayed implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule three times. This 2016 regulation was designed to help students who have been defrauded by for-profit educational institutions discharge their federal student loans. In our amicus brief to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, we argue that the delays must be vacated because the Department failed to provide a reasoned explanation for any of them.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief on the Clean Water Rule’s “Applicability Date”

    May 11, 2018

    The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corp of Engineers were sued for suspending implementation of the Clean Water Rule through the addition of an “applicability date” to the Clean Water Rule. Our brief to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in that case argues that the court should vacate the Suspension Rule because the agencies improperly ignored the forgone benefits of suspending the Clean Water Rule.

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  • Court Filings

    Amicus Brief on New York’s Zero Emissions Credits and the Social Cost of Carbon

    March 28, 2018

    In 2016, the New York Public Service Commission adopted the Clean Energy Standard, an ambitious plan to increase renewable generation to 50% of the market by 2030. While working toward that goal, the State found it was necessary to pay nuclear generators through a zero-emissions credits (ZECs) system, as compensation for the value they provide in avoiding emissions. The State found that this would help guard against an increase in pollution if the nuclear generators were to close. Our amicus brief to the Supreme Court of New York in Albany County argues that the Commission’s decision to base ZEC prices on the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) was reasonable.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief to Forest Service on Expansion of Colorado’s West Elk Coal Mine

    March 27, 2018

    The U.S. Forest Service continues to ignore climate damages in its final approval of a coal mine expansion in Colorado, despite a court ruling that asked the Forest Service to disclose the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from the expansion. In its final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the project, Forest Service quantifies how much the expansion will increase greenhouse gases emissions but only gives a generic description of climate change and its effects. By not quantifying and monetizing the effects of this increase in emissions, the EIS obscures information necessary for the public to appreciate how the expansion will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in climate damages. Our brief to the District Court of Colorado argues that Forest Service’s failure to monetize climate impacts was arbitrary and is still in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

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  • Court Filings

    Brief on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

    March 20, 2018

    In September 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memorandum rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which had protected certain young people who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. A variety of plaintiffs—including the Regents of the University of California; several states, counties, and municipalities; and individual program participants—promptly challenged DHS’s decision in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and secured a preliminary injunction blocking DHS from carrying out the rescission. DHS has now appealed that injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Our brief, which urges the court to affirm the district court’s injunction, addresses only one issue in the case: DHS’s contention that it had a reasonable basis for rescinding DACA based on the “evident risk” that the program “would at a minimum be the subject of protracted litigation, and very likely be enjoined nationwide.”

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