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Since the 1970s, the Gulf of Mexico has suffered from human-produced nutrient pollution. The ongoing pollution from the Mississippi River Basin has created a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico that harms biodiversity and the fishing and tourism industries. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected a petition from environmental groups for federal water quality standards and refused to make a determination about whether the pollution problem necessitated federal intervention, environmental organizations sued.
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) prohibits the sale or distribution of any pesticide without prior registration and approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA may deny applications for pesticide registration when “necessary to prevent unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” On September 10, 2015, the Ninth Circuit found EPA did not adequately research the effects of the chemical sulfoxaflor on bee populations in Pollinator Stewardship Council v. EPA. The court determined that EPA failed to follow its internal standard for data collection.
In the midst of a Northern Arizona plateau, a rust-colored hill rises steeply from a base of sandstone to a summit of volcanic rock. The Havasupai Tribe (“the Tribe”) refers to this land as the “mountain of the clenched fist,” and it is one of their most sacred spaces. More commonly known as Red Butte, this property has faced mining threats for decades. Objections based on the site’s cultural and religious significance have been considered and outweighed, leading to mountainside protests and legal action.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule that limits carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants—the Clean Power Plan—is an environmental regulation that powerfully influences energy law and forms a key part of the U.S. plan to meet its voluntary international commitments under the December 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Even if portions of the Plan are ultimately struck down, almost any viable pathway to lower carbon emissions will require greater integration of these two areas of law to address the large percentage of U.S. emissions from the energy sector. This integration produces both challenges and opportunities for governance.