Observing that “[r]enewable energy projects, although critical to the effort to combat climate change, can have significant adverse environmental impacts,” a Ninth Circuit panel has invalidated the environmental review of a major wind turbine project by the Bureau of Land Management. The court held that the BLM did not adequately consider the project’s impacts on

The Ninth Circuit has rejected a claim, under the National Environmental Policy Act, that the Navy did not adequately consider the environmental consequences of a potential terrorist threat to the redevelopment of a military complex near downtown San Diego.  The opinion upheld the Navy’s Environmental Assessment for the complex, which concluded that the project would not create the potential for a significant impact from a terrorist attack. San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition v. United States Department of Defense, No. 12-57234 (9th Cir. March 30, 2016).

Background

The Navy first approved the redevelopment of the complex in 1991.  The project included both military functions and private commercial uses to generate revenue.  However, adverse real estate conditions in San Diego delayed the project until the mid-2000s.  In 2006, the Navy prepared an EA for the project to supplement its prior NEPA analysis from the early 1990s, and it executed a lease with a private development partner.  But a citizens group filed a NEPA lawsuit, and the district court ruled that the Navy had failed to provide adequate public notice for the EA.

In response, the Navy prepared a new EA and reapproved the project in 2009.  The new EA included a discussion of a potential terrorist attack, due to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 449 F.3d 1016 (9th Cir. 2006), which had held that a categorical dismissal of the potential impacts from a terrorist attack at an installation built to store spent nuclear fuel rods was unreasonable under NEPA.  The Navy’s new EA concluded that a terrorist attack at the complex in San Diego was too speculative and remote to require NEPA analysis, since there was no known specific threat targeting the complex or its location.  The EA also explained that anti-terrorism building specifications would be followed to reduce the risks posed by a potential terrorist attack.  The EA thus concluded that the project would not place military or civilian personnel in jeopardy and would not result in a significant impact under NEPA.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Rules Navy Satisfied NEPA in Considering Potential Terrorist Threat to San Diego Facility

On September 17, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the release of a draft scientific report that is widely seen as a prelude to upcoming regulations that would significantly expand federal permitting jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. See our update for more information about the draft report, which is titled “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence.”
Continue Reading EPA Publishes Draft Scientific Report To Support Significant Expansion of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

Many CEQA and NEPA analyses of greenhouse gas impacts assume implementation of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard adopted by the California Air Resources Board. In a boost to the credibility of these analyses, the Ninth Circuit has dissolved a pending injunction and rejected multiple challenges to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey, No. 12-15131 (9th Cir., Sept. 18, 2013).
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Moves Low Carbon Fuel Regulations Closer to Validation

In a case the court described as pitting “an oyster farm, oyster lovers and well-known ‘foodies’ against environmentalists,” the Ninth Circuit has upheld denial of a preliminary injunction against the Interior Secretary’s decision not to extend a permit for commercial oyster farming at Point Reyes National Seashore.  Drakes Bay Oyster Company v. Jewell, No.

Friends and foes of fracking in California have, for the most part, fought their battles in the policy and legislative arenas.  But the federal district court in San Jose recently chimed in, striking down four oil and gas leases issued by the Bureau of Land Management for 2,700 acres of federal lands overlying the Monterey