STATE OF GEORGIA, et al., Plaintiffs, v. ANDREW R. WHEELER, in his official capacity as Acting Adm’r, U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, et al., Defendants. Additional Party Names: Am. Farm Bureau Fed’n, Am. Forest & Paper Ass’n, Am. Petroleum Inst., Am. Rd. & Transportation Builders Ass’n, Commonwealth of Kentucky, Georgia Ass’n of Manufacturers, Georgia Farm Bureau Fed’n, Leading Builders of Am., Nat’l All. of Forest Owners, Nat’l Ass’n of Home Builders, Nat’l Ass’n of Manufacturers, Nat’l Cattlemen’s Beef Ass’n, Nat’l Corn Growers Ass’n, Nat’l Mining Ass’n, Nat’l Pork Producers Council, Nat’l Stone, Sand, & Gravel Ass’n, Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n, N. Carolina Dep’t of Env’t & Nat. Res., One Hundred Miles, Pub. Lands Council, State of Alabama, State of Fla., Indiana, State of Kansas, State of S.C., State of Utah, State of W. Virginia, U.S. Poultry & Egg Ass’n, No. 2:15-CV-00079, 2019 WL 3949922 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 21, 2019)
Before the Court is a challenge to a 2015 administrative regulation defining “waters of the United States” (hereinafter, the “WOTUS Rule”) under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1344, 1362(7) (2018). Congress enacted the CWA in 1972 “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” Id. § 1251(a). To accomplish that goal, Congress implemented permitting requirements in the CWA for discharging pollutants into the nation’s “navigable waters.” Id. § 1311(a), § 1362(12), (14). Congress defined “navigable waters” to mean “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” Id. § 1362(7). To carry out the requirements of the CWA, Congress delegated authority under the Act to the administrators of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“the Corps”) (collectively “the Agencies”). See id. § 1361(a). The issues in this case are whether the Agencies extended their jurisdiction beyond the limits of the CWA, failed to adhere to the procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), and violated the Constitution by promulgating the WOTUS Rule.
After analyzing the administrative record, and for the reasons explained below, the Court holds that the WOTUS Rule extends the Agencies’ delegated authority beyond the limits of the CWA, and thus is not a permissible construction of the phrase “waters of the United States” within the statute, and that the Agencies’ promulgation of the WOTUS Rule violates the APA’s procedural requirements. Therefore, Plaintiffs’ Motions for Summary Judgment, dkt. nos. 199, 203, are granted. Intervenor Defendants’ Motion, was denied. The WOTUS Rule is hereby remanded to the Agencies for further proceedings consistent with this Order. Intervenor Plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend the Court’s Preliminary Injunction, dkt. no. 208, is denied at this time. The Court’s Preliminary Injunction, will remain in place pending the outcome of the ongoing administrative proceedings regarding the WOTUS Rule.
Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Inc. v. Harrington, 931 F.3d 774 (8th Cir. 2019)
Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Inc. and The Next Chapter Winery, LLC (collectively, Farm Wineries) appeal from an order granting summary judgment to the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (Commissioner). The district court held that the FarmWineries lack standing to challenge a Minnesota statute that requires them to manufacture their wine with a majority of the ingredients grown or produced in Minnesota. On appeal, the Farm Wineries claim that the district court erred by granting summary judgment to the Commissioner and ask us to consider the merits of the dispute. We reverse the district court’s order granting summary judgment and remand for further proceedings.
Rawa v. Monsanto Co., No. 18-2346, 2019 WL 3916537 (8th Cir. Aug. 20, 2019)
Appellant-objector James Migliaccio was a member of a California class action against Monsanto Company that alleged the company used misleading labeling on its Roundup concentrate herbicide. Following certification of the California class in the Central District of California, class counsel filed the present action in the Eastern District of Missouri on behalf of a putative class of consumers from the other 49 states. The parties reached a nationwide settlement agreement. The Central District of California transferred the California action to Missouri, where Monsanto resides, in order to consolidate the cases and seek preliminary approval of the nationwide settlement. The federal district court in Missouri granted preliminary approval of the settlement and its notice plan. After the notice period ended, the plaintiffs filed for final approval of the settlement. Migliaccio objected to certification of the nationwide class and to the fairness of the settlement on several grounds. The district court overruled his objection and granted final approval. Upon review, the court concluded that the class members were adequately represented and that the settlement was reasonable, fair, and adequate. They affirmed.
W. Watersheds Project v. Interior Bd. of Land Appeals, No. 1:19-CV-037-BLW, 2019 WL 3877302 (D. Idaho Aug. 16, 2019)
Plaintiff Western Watersheds Project (WWP) brought this lawsuit to reverse a decision of the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) and to reverse the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) decision renewing grazing permits on the Duck Creek allotment. That allotment covers about 22,000 acres in northern Utah, of which 13,900 acres are BLM lands, 8,617 acres are owned by Utah residents, and 1,078 acres are owned by the State of Utah.
When the BLM was considering renewing the grazing permits for this allotment, WWP presented the BLM with evidence that grazingwas degrading fish and wildlife habitat among other damage in violation of NEPA and FLPMA in an effort to prevent the renewal. The BLM nevertheless renewed the grazing permits. WWP appealed to Interior’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a lengthy evidentiary hearing. Following that hearing, the ALJ rendered a decision agreeing with WWP that the BLM violated NEPA and FLPMA and reversing the BLM’s decision to renew the permits but declining WWP’s request for remedial relief.
WWP and the BLM appealed that decision to the IBLA. The IBLA ruled in favor of the BLM, reversing the ALJ’s decision and reinstating the BLM’s decision to renew the grazing permits. WWP responded by filing this action, alleging that the IBLA improperly imposed a burden of proof on WWP that was impossible to meet and ignored the credibility findings of the ALJ. WWP also alleges that the BLM decision renewing the permits violates NEPA and FLPMA because the BLM ignored the environmental damage being done by livestock grazing on the allotment.
The BLM has filed a motion to dismiss this case for lack of venue or, in the alternative, to transfer venue to the Federal District Court for the District of Utah. WWP responds that venue is proper here and objects to any transfer.