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Recent Projects

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  • Court Filings

    Amicus Brief on Interstate Air Pollution

    April 26, 2019

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized the “Close-Out Rule,” a rule refusing to impose any additional reductions in interstate ozone air pollution under the Good Neighbor Provision of the Clean Air Act. We submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit explaining how EPA’s decision to not require pollution reductions is irrational and devoid of adequate analysis.

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  • Court Filings

    Amicus Brief in Atlantic Coast Pipeline Case

    April 12, 2019

    If constructed, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project would be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions resulting in over $1.3 billion per year of climate damages. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) analysis estimates the quantity of the project’s emissions but does not analyze the context, intensity, or significance of the incremental climate damages they will cause. We submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that explains how FERC’s failure to monetize the project’s climate damages using Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimates is arbitrary.

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  • Court Filings

    Amicus Brief on the Good Neighbor Provision of the Clean Air Act

    April 5, 2019

    The Clean Air Act includes a Good Neighbor Provision, which requires states to prohibit their own sources of pollution from emitting in quantities that “contribute significantly” to another state’s inability to achieve national ambient air quality standards. When upwind states fail to abide by this requirement, the Act authorizes downwind states to petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for relief.

    In 2018, EPA denied five such petitions filed by Maryland and Delaware, which sought tighter limits on ozone-forming emissions from power plants in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Maryland and Delaware, supported by other states and a coalition of environmental groups, have now challenged those denials in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In our amicus brief supporting the challenges, we focused on EPA’s erroneous claim that no further emission reductions at the specified plants would be cost-effective.

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  • Court Filings

    Amicus Brief on Harmful Changes to Title X Women’s Health Services

    April 5, 2019

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule that makes detrimental revisions to the federal Title X program, which funds free or low-cost reproductive health services for millions of women each year. HHS would impose onerous restrictions that will likely force the shutdown of key health clinics that rely on federal funding. We submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in support of the plaintiff’s motions for preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs argue that the final rule is arbitrary and capricious because HHS failed to accurately assess the rule’s health costs, compliance costs, and alleged benefits. Our brief provides the court with context on the legal and economic standards for regulatory impact analysis to detail how HHS’s assessment of the rule thoroughly flunks those standards.

    We also filed briefs in Title X cases in the District of Oregon, Eastern District of Washington, and District of Maine.

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  • Court Filings

    Amicus Brief on Climate Impacts of the PennEast Pipeline Project

    December 28, 2018

    In January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized the construction and operation of the PennEast Pipeline Project, a 116-mile natural gas pipeline between Pennsylvania and New Jersey and associated facilities. FERC’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) showed that the project will result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions but did little more than quantify those emissions, failing to fully analyze and consider the climate impacts of the project. We submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that demonstrates how FERC could have used the Social Cost of Carbon to analyze the pipeline’s climate impacts.

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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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