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2015 Environmental Law Update

Susan M. Rainey, 61st Annual Institute Proceedings (2015)

§ 25.01 Pushing the Envelope: The EPA’s Regulation of Coal-Fired Power Plants and Greenhouse Gases
[1] The EPA’s Clean Power Plan—Regulating Existing Power Plants
[a] Overview
Perhaps the most talked about topic in environmental law this year is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed “Clean Power Plan.” The Clean Power Plan stems from President Barack Obama’s June 2013 “Climate Action Plan,” which asserted that there are severe consequences associated with climate change and called for large-scale actions to reduce its most significant driver, greenhouse gases (GHG). One prong of the Climate Action Plan called for a reduction of carbon emissions from existing power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. In carrying out his plan, the President tasked the EPA with developing carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

§ 25.02 Whenever It Wants: The EPA’s Exercise of Permit Veto Authority Under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA)
In the last year, the federal courts were called upon to consider the extent of the EPA’s veto authority under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in two very different factual settings. In the first scenario, the EPA used its authority to veto a site specification underlying a section 404 permit after the permit had been validly issued by the