Institute for Policy Integrity

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What We Do

Project Updates

Viewing all updates in Natural Resources
  • 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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  • Public Comments

    Comments to EPA on Coal Combustion Residuals Rule

    April 30, 2018

    In 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established minimum criteria for the safe disposal of coal combustion residuals. At the time, EPA projected that the new rule would yield substantial health and environmental benefits. EPA now proposes to weaken the requirements of the 2015 rule but insists that doing so “will not change risks to human health and the environment” and thus will have no effect on the projected benefits of the 2015 rule. Our comments explain why EPA cannot reasonably assume that its proposed changes will have no effect on the 2015 rule’s projected benefits.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments on the Rescission of BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule

    April 23, 2018

    The Bureau of Land Management has proposed to rescind or revise its 2016 rule to limit methane emissions associated with natural gas production. The analysis for the original rule showed it to be hugely beneficial to the public, largely due to the avoided climate damages, for which BLM relied on the IWG’s Social Cost of Methane in the original analysis. Now, BLM has radically altered the analysis for the rule, claiming that the costs outweigh its benefits and the Bureau is justifying its decision to rescind or revise the rule based on this flawed rehashing of the effects, even though many of the problematic elements actually undercut BLM’s justification of the proposal to rescind or revise the rule. We submitted comments focused on this faulty analysis and also submitted joint comments on how BLM failed to appropriately value the Social Cost of Methane and other foregone benefits that would result from the rule’s rescission.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to OSMRE on Failure to Use the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases in a Federal Mining Plan

    April 23, 2018

    We recently submitted comments to Office of Surfacing Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) on its environmental assessment (EA) on modifying the federal mining plan for Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 in Montana. The EA evaluates a proposal to extend operations at an existing mine by nine years, which would produce an extra 86.7 million tons of coal. While the EA quantifies the tons of greenhouse gas emissions related to the project, OSM refused to use the social cost of greenhouse gases metric to monetize the climate effects of these emissions. Our comments explain why the agency’s refusal is arbitrary and unlawful in light of a growing body of case law, which holds that failure to monetize a project’s costs is impermissible if an agency justifies an action based on the project’s monetized benefits. Our comments also explain why the social cost of greenhouse gases metric is appropriate for projects of this scale, why the metric’s use is not limited to rulemakings, and how failing to adequately account for the project’s climate effects is a violation of NEPA.

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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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  • Public Comments

    Comments on Use of the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases in Environmental Impact Statements

    March 9, 2018

    We recently submitted joint comments to advocate for the proper use of the social cost of greenhouse gases in multiple environmental impact statements. Our comments to the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation (OSMRE) and our comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) focused on the agencies’ failure to use the social cost of greenhouse gases metric to account for the climate effects of anticipated project emissions. In our comments on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)’s 5-year scoping plan for offshore oil and gas leasing, we emphasized that if and when BOEM decides to monetize greenhouse gas emissions, it should use the 2016 IWG estimates, as it has done in the past.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments on Interior’s Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing 2019-2024 Draft Proposed Program

    March 9, 2018

    The Department of the Interior’s offshore leasing program must analyze and account for the potential for environmental damage, the potential for the discovery of oil and gas, and the potential for adverse impact on the coastal zone. In addition, offshore oil and gas leases must provide fair market value for private use and development of these publicly-owned oil and gas resources. Our comments to the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) explain why its Draft Proposed Program for 2019-2024, which would replace BOEM’s existing Program for 2017-2022, fails to meet its statutory mandates under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

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  • Public Comments

    Royalty Rate Changes for Offshore Drilling

    February 27, 2018

    At a meeting in Houston on February 28, the Interior Department’s Royalty Policy Committee recommended lowering the royalty rate that companies pay to the public when they drill for oil and gas in U.S. coastal waters. Such a change would go against the Interior Department’s statutory mandate to earn fair market value for the development of publicly owned natural resources. Our policy director, Jayni Hein, submitted public comments to the Royalty Policy Committee and spoke at the meeting.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to Interior on Offshore Drilling Safety Requirements

    January 29, 2018

    The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) within the Department of the Interior is tasked with setting safety and environmental standards for offshore oil and gas production and exploration in federal waters. While BSEE updated its safety requirements in 2016, it now proposes to weaken and repeal some of these safety requirements in order to encourage more oil and gas production. In our comments on the proposed rule, we argue that the agency has failed to provide a reasoned explanation for repealing these requirements, which were part of a comprehensive update to safety regulations that had not been revised since 1988.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Market-Based Mitigation Programs

    January 5, 2018

    We recently submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on its market-based mitigation programs. Our comments were based in part on the recommendations Policy Integrity’s Legal Director, Jason Schwartz, made to the Administrative Conference of the United States on marketable permits, which were adopted in late December.

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