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Supreme Court Review & Preview


October 7, 2013


Cambridge, MA

An ELI Research Seminar

Each October the U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term. And each year, ELI convenes a national seminar with some of the pre-eminent experts on the Supreme Court and environmental law to examine the potential significance of the Court's rulings from the past term and the cases on the Court's docket for its new term.

Last term had several important environmental cases, including Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, No. 11-338, slip op. (U.S. March 20, 2013) and County of Los Angeles v. Natural Resources Defense Council, No. 11-460, slip op. (U.S. January 8, 2013), both of which concerned the application of the Clean Water Act to stormwater discharges. The Court also decided Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, No. 11-1447, slip op. (U.S. June 25, 2013), in which it significantly expanded its regulatory takings scrutiny of state wetlands regulation. In addition, the Court issued rulings in several major non-environmental cases with significant import for environmental law, including City of Arlington v. FCC, No. 11-1545, slip op. (U.S. May 20, 2013), in which a sharply divided Court held that courts must apply Chevron deference to an agency's interpretation of its own jurisdiction over a matter.

The Court's upcoming term has the potential to be even more significant. The Court has already granted review in EPA v. EME Homer City, 696 F.3d 7 (D.C. Cir. 2012), cert granted, No. 12-1182 (U.S. June 24, 2013), in which EPA seeks reversal of the D.C. Circuit's invalidation of the agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, regulating interstate air pollution. The Court will also soon act on several important pending petitions for certiorari, including nine petitions that challenge EPA's promulgation of rules regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act in the aftermath of the Court's 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007).