As storms like Superstorm Sandy continue to grow more devastating and frequent, communities, governments, businesses, and industries of all sizes and varieties must face the challenge of adapting to a changing climate. October 29, 2019 marked the seventh anniversary of Sandy hitting New Jersey. Governor Murphy marked this occasion by signing Executive Order 89, which calls on the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish a Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy, among other initiatives related to climate change adaptation. “New Jersey is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of sea-level rise and global warming, and [this] Executive Order outlines a bold and comprehensive set of actions to ensure that our communities and infrastructure are more resilient against future storms,” said Government Murphy about the signing. The preamble to the Executive Order notes that New Jersey is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as a coastal state. Picking up on this administration’s Environmental Justice efforts, the Order acknowledges that minority and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. Climate change of course is an issue that also impacts all communities, including the business community, industry, and government. The preamble also notes that “studies show that each...
Tagged: Climate Change
In 2015, 21 youth plaintiffs, ranging in age from eight to 19 at the time of filing, brought a constitutional climate-change lawsuit against the United States alleging that the United States and various executive branch agencies discriminate against younger generations with policies that contribute to and exacerbate climate change in violation of their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. The plaintiffs seek an order enjoining current governmental policies and adopting a plan to curb excessive carbon dioxide emissions. The government unsuccessfully sought to have the case dismissed, and when that failed, sought mandamus from the Ninth Circuit directing the district court to dismiss the suit. Recently, after a trip up to the United States Supreme Court and back down to the Oregon District Court, the Ninth Circuit ultimately agreed by a 2-1 majority to allow the defendants’ mandamus petition to proceed. The majority noted that interlocutory appeals under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) are generally only authorized when a district court order “involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion” and found “an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.” The plaintiffs allege that...
Catherine McCabe Assumes Duties as Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Governor Phil Murphy’s nominee for Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) assumed her new duties as Acting Commissioner on January 22, 2018 while she awaits confirmation by the Senate. The new Acting Commissioner has extensive experience with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), having served most recently as both deputy and acting regional administrator of EPA’s Region 2, and as acting administrator of the EPA itself. EPA’s Region 2 includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Acting Commissioner McCabe also served as Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, as a judge on EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board. Prior to joining EPA, McCabe held various managerial positions with the U.S. Department of Justice in its Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Enforcement Section, Natural Resources Section, and Policy, Legislation and Special Litigation Section. She earned her law degree from Columbia Law School, a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Barnard College, and studied environmental science at the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The appointment of an experienced environmental administrator evidences the Governor’s commitment to his ambitious environmental agenda. Susanne Peticolas is a Director in...
Recently, Governor Christie vetoed legislation designed to allow additional applications for offshore wind projects seeking approval from state regulators. The now-defunct bill, S988, sponsored by Senators Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) and Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), sought to allow the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) to open a 30-day period for the submission of offshore wind project applications. More specifically, the bill would have allowed BPU to accept and approve “a qualified wind energy project that is located in territorial waters offshore of [a] municipality in which casino gaming is authorized,” i.e. a wind project offshore from Atlantic City.
Since the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, it has been clear that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has the authority under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) from mobile sources because GHGs fall within the CAA’s definition of an “air pollutant.” When EPA sought to regulate GHG emissions from stationary sources (mainly power plants and factories), however, the Court sang a slightly different tune. In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency (“UARG”), the Court rejected EPA’s attempt to regulate GHG emissions from stationary sources under two regulatory programs based solely on those emissions, while affirming the agency’s ability to regulate such emissions from so-called “anyway” sources that are already undergoing regulatory review because of emissions of other pollutants.
On June 2, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) introduced new rules – via a 645 page proposal – designed to reduce the emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) from existing power plants. Although this is the first time the EPA has proposed such standards, the EPA claims that it is empowered to do so under the ambiguous provisions set forth in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), 42 U.S.C. § 7411(d).
In early 2011, several bills were introduced to encourage the installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations. Senator Greenstein introduced Senate bill 2603, in January, which would require the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Turnpike Authority to provide EV charging stations at the service areas along the toll roads, allocating 5% of the parking spaces to EV stations. The bill was reported out of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on February 14. In March, another bill, S2784, also introduced by Senator Greenstein, would require new shopping center developments to allocate 5% of the parking spaces to EV charging stations. Both of these bills have been sitting since the Spring. Nonetheless, even in the absence of legislative mandates, EV stations have been popping up in NJ and NY. One of the newest ones announced is in Avalon, NJ.
On the weekend of June 24-26, 2011, the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education (“NJICLE”) in cooperation with the New Jersey State Bar Association (“NJSBA”), and New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association, held its annual Environmental Law Section Forum Weekend (“the Forum”). Taking place in Avalon, New Jersey, the Forum featured three days of seminars covering various hot-button environmental topics including, Funding for Remediating Sites, Vapor Intrusion, the LSRP Program, Non-Governmental Organizations’ Perspectives on Issues and Resolutions, the well-known NJDEP v. Occidental case also referred to as the Lower Passaic River litigation, Climate Change, and rounded out the weekend with two programs on Ethical Issues including Alternative Fee Arrangements and Multi-Party Settlements.
Reversing the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court on June 20, 2011 held, in American Electric Power Company v. Connecticut, that the Clean Air Act, along with EPA regulatory action that it authorizes, displaces any federal common-law right to seek abatement of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from power plants. The Court’s decision means that for the foreseeable future, the debate over the proper scope of federal GHG regulation will take place in the executive and legislative branches and not the courts. It also leaves unanswered the question whether traditional state common-law remedies still have a role to play in GHG regulation.
The Supreme Court in Montana v. Wyoming –U.S.–, 131 S.Ct. 1765 (2011), rejected Montana’s claim that Wyoming’s usage of water depleted the amount of water available to it under the Yellowstone River Compact between Montana and Wyoming. Montana contended that Wyoming breached Article V(A) of the Compact which provided that “appropriative rights to the beneficial uses of the water of the Yellowstone River System existing in each signatory State as of January 1, 1950, shall continue to be enjoyed in accordance with the laws governing the acquisition and use of water under the doctrine of appropriation.”