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  • Full Agenda at FERC

    Other items on FERC's agenda: a rehearing request regarding FERC's approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate expansion permit; a rehearing request from Sierra Club on a Sabal Trail compression station permit; and a permit decision on a pipeline expansion that would feed the Sabine Pass LNG plant. That one includes a challenge from the Institute for Policy Integrity, which wants to know why the commission did not include downstream greenhouse gas impacts of the pipelines.

  • ‘Billions of Dollars in Climate Harm’: Green Groups Seek Rehearing of Rio Grande LNG Redesign Approval

    A coalition of South Texas community groups and environmental organiztions has challenged U.S. federal regulators' decision last month to approve a scaled-down Rio Grande LNG facility. The suit filed in June has attracted interest from outside groups, with New York University's Institute for Policy Integrity submitting an amicus brief.

  • How Biden Could Thwart Trump’s Arctic Push

    The decadeslong fight over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is nowhere near over, despite the Interior Department taking a big step Monday toward allowing development. "[P]laintiffs will almost certainly seek a preliminary injunction in court to stop any sale from going forward. And a new administration could decline to defend the ROD in court," Jayni Foley Hein tells Axios in an email. "Second, it seems very likely that a Biden administration could seek to reopen the [National Environmental Policy Act] analysis, and it could also decline to issue permits to drill based on flaws in the ROD and underlying analysis," says Hein, who is with NYU's Institute for Policy Integrity.

  • Environmental Groups Urge Court to Uphold Stay Of WOTUS In Colorado

    Environmental and academic groups are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to uphold a lower court’s stay of the Trump administration’s waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The Institute for Policy Integrity uses its Aug. 11 amicus brief to take aim at the rule's economic analysis. "Time after time, the economic analysis relies on irrational and ill-informed assumptions, violates regulatory guidance and precedent, and makes claims about water connectivity that are inconsistent with science -- all with the effect of making the Rule's extensive harms seem minor in relation to its alleged cost savings," Policy Integrity says.

  • Court’s Ruling Against Trump Elevates Debate on Climate Metric

    The decision serves as a powerful warning to other agencies seeking to justify rollbacks by using a domestic-only metric to study the social costs of greenhouse gases, said Jason A. Schwartz, legal director for New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity. The group filed an amicus brief supporting challenges to the Trump administration’s methane rollback. “No administration can change what the best science or the best economics is by fiat,” he said, paraphrasing the opinion. “You can’t cherry-pick which aspects of a model or which recommendations from a scientific body or literature you want, and then ignore the rest.”

  • Trump Proposes Speedier Environmental Reviews for Highways, Pipelines, Drilling and Mining

    "There have long been calls to streamline the NEPA process and specifically shorten the timeline for completing that process," said Jayni Foley Hein, natural resources director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law. "But the scope of these regulatory revisions far exceeds anything in recent memory." She said the Trump administration NEPA rule-making could be open to challenge because it goes beyond the scope of the law. "Agencies would be wise to follow the letter of the statute."

  • Dominion Pipeline Demise Delays Closer Look at Climate Impacts

    Energy companies’ decision to cancel the Atlantic Coast pipeline has dealt an under-the-radar setback to the environmental movement, prolonging a legal campaign to force federal regulators to take a closer look at pipelines’ climate impacts. A panel of D.C. Circuit judges last year panned FERC’s climate review process as “decidedly less than dogged.” But the court hasn’t yet given a definitive answer on whether the commission’s narrow interpretation of the 2017 ruling passes muster. In the meantime, “we are seeing agencies continue to rely on these really problematic arguments without really fully weighing the climate impacts of projects,” said Jason Schwartz, legal director for New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity, which has advocated for broader reviews.

  • The Pipeline Setbacks Reveal the Perils of Rushed Agency Approvals

    • Jayni Foley Hein

    Recent groundbreaking legal and business decisions mark a turning point for longstanding advocacy against pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure. And while they don’t represent any sort of change of heart in the federal government, they can be understood as examples of the laws we already had on the books working—and working particularly well in the face of incompetence. They also serve as a harbinger of future costly outcomes, especially when agencies and project proponents cut corners rather than fully analyze environmental effects and engage the public in decision making.

  • Staff Scientists: Trump’s Environmental Rollbacks Find Opposition Within

    When the civil servants were directed to undo Obama’s Clean Power Plan and create a more coal-friendly version, some of those who remained at the EPA made sure the documents accompanying the proposed replacement included the fact that increased coal pollution would cause 1,400 new premature deaths a year. The EPA later deleted the number from the final rule, but Richard Revesz, an expert on environmental law at New York University, said it would still play a role in the legal fight against the rollback. “That number was a devastatingly bad conclusion for the administration,” he said.

  • When Safety Rules on Oil Drilling Were Changed, Some Staff Objected. Those Notes Were Cut.

    As the offshore oil industry’s federal regulator completed its overhaul of a major well-drilling safety rule in 2018, Scott Angelle, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, told a staff engineer to delete language from memos showing that the changes would contradict guidance from the agency’s own engineers. The internal correspondence could prove a liability, as environmental groups challenge the agency’s rationale for its decision. “What these communications show is that the agency was not relying on expertise,” said Richard Revesz, dean emeritus of New York University School of Law and an expert on environmental and regulatory legal matters. “It was making a political decision that went against the advice of the experts and the experts were being sidelined.”