The Florida Beach Case Comes to Supreme Court: A Badly Flawed Test Case for Property Rights Advocates
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection. By the time they finish hearing from both sides, the justices may wonder whether this case was worth their time and effort. (My amicus brief on the case is here).
Petitioner is a small non-profit organization whose members own coastal properties in two communities along the Florida panhandle. Petitioner’s primary argument is that its members suffered “takings” of their property interests within the meaning of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
The case potentially raises two interesting questions, but for various reasons the Court may well find itself incapable of addressing the merits of those questions. In any event, the Court will not likely disturb the judgment of the Florida Supreme Court rejecting petitioner’s case.
The first issue is whether a Florida state agency and local governments “took” private property by authorizing and implementing a program designed to restore ocean shorelines ravaged by hurricanes. The program involves dredging large quantities of sand from the ocean bottom and depositing the sand along the water’s edge to rebuild the beach and create a buffer against future erosion losses.
The takings argument arises from a provision of the Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Act replacing, in certain beach areas, the fluctuating, common law coastal boundary with a fixed, statutory line. This line is set at the current boundary separating
Toyota Cars and Automobile Regulation, Still Defective: Recall Could Miss a Million Faulty Cars. Congress Should Investigate.
This morning, Toyota Motor Corporation announced it intends to replace accelerator pedals on about 3.8 million recalled vehicles in the United States because the pedals can get stuck in a floor mat. But the recall could still leave more than a million faulty cars on the road. As I wrote earlier, there had been over 2,000 reports from the owners of Toyota cars that they have surged forward without warning reaching speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. NHTSA
OIRA Must Be Having a Doorbuster Sale of Its Own
Perhaps caught up in the spirit of the holiday shopping season, a large number of industry bargain hunters have been busy seeking great deals on regulatory relief at the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in recent weeks. To be precise, the bureau hosted no fewer than 11 meetings with corporate interests regarding seven different regulatory issues between November 4 and November 16. The meetings covered a range of topics. One meeting saw representatives of Shell Oil
Yes, Senator Cardin's Chesapeake Bay Bill Is Grounded in Constitutional Law
by Yee Huang | November 24, 2009
On Monday, CPR Member Scholars and others sent a memorandum to Senator Ben Cardin that addressed the constitutionality of S. 1816, the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009. At a Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing earlier this month, one witness contested the key provisions of S. 1816, asserting that they are unconstitutional with respect to the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The memo, signed by CPR Member Scholars Robert Adler, William Andreen,
What We'll Look For in the Obama Administration's Forthcoming Executive Order on Regulatory Process
by Ben Somberg | November 23, 2009
The Obama Administration is expected to issue revisions to Executive Order 12,866, which specifies how the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) supervises federal regulatory agencies as they develop regulations to protect health, safety, the environment, and more (see the full comments on the matter submitted by CPR's board members in March). CPR President Rena Steinzor and Board Member Rob Glicksman have issued a backgrounder on the coming Executive Order -- explaining the context and setting out six
Is It Time To Depoliticize EPA's Regional Administrators?
by Joel Mintz | November 20, 2009
As it nears the close of its first year in office, the Obama Administration has thus far failed to name half of the regional administrators for its ten regional offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and it was only on November 5th that it named those five officials. The reason for the lengthy delay in making appointments to these posts is not immediately apparent. Perhaps the Administration is anxious to avoid stirring up any political controversies regarding particular
Administration's Announcement on Mountaintop Removal Mining -- In Perspective
by Ben Somberg | November 19, 2009
"Interior increases oversight of mountaintop mining" trumpets the AP, and "U.S. boosts coal mining oversight to fight pollution" says Reuters. That's in response to an announcement from Interior on Wednesday. But on Coal Tattoo, and from NRDC and Sierra Club, one learns of a pretty different story. Says NRDC's Rob Perks: Why in the world would I have a problem with this? As I previously posted on the apparent "slow-walk" on this issue by the Interior Department, Interior Secretary Ken
Sunstein Watch: OMB Says it Will Leave EDSP to the EPA Experts
On Monday, OMB Director Peter Orszag sent a letter to Rep. Ed Markey, responding to Congressman Markey’s concerns about OMB’s involvement in EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. Orszag’s letter -- released by Markey's office Wednesday -- explains, in no uncertain terms, that OMB is done meddling in EPA’s scientific determinations about endocrine-disrupting chemicals. It’s a step in the right direction for Orszag and OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein, who have their work cut out for them if they are going to
Update: Judge Approves Settlement on Numeric Nutrient Criteria for Florida
by Yee Huang | November 18, 2009
A few months ago, I wrote about a landmark agreement by the EPA to set numeric, statewide nutrient pollution limits -- the first of its kind in the United States. Florida, like most states, has qualitative nutrient pollution limits, which are written in terms such as, “in no case shall nutrient concentrations of body of water be altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of flora or fauna.” Terms like this are difficult to measure objectively and
The Importance of Being Earnest: Nutrient Trading in the Chesapeake Bay
by Yee Huang | November 13, 2009
In October, Senator Ben Cardin (D.-Md.) introduced the “Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009,” signaling the beginning of a new era of federal commitment to Bay restoration. The legislation is a tremendous step in the right direction, and it includes many elements to help make the Bay Program and the Bay-wide Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) models for watersheds across the country. In addition to the inclusion of mandatory implementation plans and enforceable deadlines, the legislation also establishes a
Defective: Toyota Cars and Automobile Regulation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently chastised the Toyota Motor Company for claiming that no defect existed in its cars, even while recalling 3.8 million of them. Toyota instituted the recall one month after a Lexus sedan suddenly accelerated out of control killing four people near San Diego. When Toyota blamed the problem on improperly installed floor mats, NHTSA said it expected the company to provide a “suitable vehicle solution.” The company then said that it was working on “vehicle-based remedies”
Brown Pelican Dis-Endangered
This posting is reprinted, by permission from Legal Planet. The Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday announced some very good news — the brown pelican will soon be removed from the list of endangered and threatened species. This enormous fish-eating bird has been protected since 1970, when it was included on the very first list of US endangered species under a predecessor to the current Endangered Species Act. Its population rebounded after DDT was banned in 1972. By 1985, the pelican
Like Christmas Shopping Season, the Battle Over Rules at OIRA Begins Earlier and Earlier Every Year
When the Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI)—the research arm of the U.S. power industry—met with OIRA last month to discuss the various “beneficial uses” of spent coal ash from power plants, their timing was impeccable. Or so it would seem. On the day of the meeting, October 16, EPA submitted for OIRA review its pre-rule proposals regarding the regulation of coal ash disposal under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In reality, the meeting demonstrates how eager regulated industries
Pressing the Button
New in movie theaters this past weekend was a horror flick called, “The Box,” starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a couple given a disturbing choice. They are presented with a mysterious box, equipped with a button. If they press the button, they’ll get $1 million, but someone they do not know will die. The premise is striking, but it’s not quite so fictional as we’d like to think. Every day in the United States and across the globe,
Administration Releases Draft Chesapeake Bay Strategy
Today the Administration released its draft strategy for the Chesapeake Bay. Public comment runs through January 8, and the final strategy is due in May. There's a lot to read. But here's one point off the bat that's of note: Regulatory authority will be expanded to increase accountability for pollution and strengthen permits for animal agriculture, urban/suburban stormwater and new sources. . . . EPA will also initiate rulemaking to increase coverage and raise standards for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
Climate Change Adaptation Still Being Given Short Shrift in Local, State, and Federal Government
Though few agencies or legislatures have begun to actually develop programs for cultivating adaptation to climate change, at least discussions on climate change adaptation are starting to take place. Unfortunately, as I detail in a forthcoming article, adaptation is still being given short shrift at local, state and federal levels of government, and those who are considering it lack the information and tools to engage in proactive adaptation. Some of the key developments on adaptation in the past few weeks
Looking at the California Water Bills
by Ben Somberg | November 06, 2009
For an analysis of the news from California this week -- where the legislature passed a group of bills Wednesday on water protection -- do check out Richard Frank on Legal Planet, who looks at the good and the less-than-good. It commits substantial public funding and commitment to desperately needed Delta ecosystem restoration. The bill package fundamentally re-organizes the state governance system that will oversee Delta regulatory, planning and restoration efforts. And it reflects long-overdue and necessary steps to address
The Senate's Refinements to Climate Change Legislation: Tailoring the Clean Air Act for Greenhouse Gases
The latest version of the Senate climate bill, released by Senator Boxer on Friday, October 30, retains EPA’s authority to establish meaningful facility regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) while freeing EPA of the obligation to implement CAA provisions that are ill-suited to controlling greenhouse gases (GHG). (Section 128(g): Amendments Clarifying Regulation of Greenhouse Gases under Clean Air Act (at page 867). The Friday version of the bill is available by E&E subscription here.) The Senate bill’s continuing preservation