Public Interest Environment, Open Government, and Land Use

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Federal agencies, in partnership with states, are the lifeblood of environmental protection and healthy communities. However, participation by ordinary people is critical in ensuring the best outcomes for communities and natural resources. Christy Law can help ensure your voice is heard.
Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. The law requires federal agencies, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the NOAA Fisheries Service, to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. The law also prohibits any action that causes a “taking” of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife. Likewise, import, export, interstate, and foreign commerce of listed species are all generally prohibited. Citizen suits under the Endangered Species Act can help prevent destruction of critical habitat and unnecessary takings of listed species. 

National Environmental Policy Act

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. Using the NEPA process, agencies evaluate the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposed actions. Agencies also provide opportunities for public review and comment on those evaluations. While NEPA does not contain a citizen suit provision, decisions made under NEPA are subject to review under the Administrative Procedure Act and can help ensure the agency has properly considered all environmental impacts. 

Administrative Procedure Act

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) governs the process by which federal agencies develop and issue regulations. It includes requirements for publishing notices of proposed and final rulemaking in the Federal Register, and provides opportunities for the public to comment on notices of proposed rulemaking. In addition to setting forth rulemaking procedures, the APA addresses other agency actions such as issuance of policy statements, licenses, and permits. It also provides standards for judicial review if a person has been adversely affected or aggrieved by an agency action. 

National Forest Management Act

The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976 was designed to counter damage to natural ecosystems on public lands. The act put in place a system for forest management following several debates over the legality of clear-cutting forests. In an effort to protect national forests from excessive and destructive logging, Congress instructed the U.S. Forest Service to develop regulations that limit the size of clearcuts, protect streams from logging, restrict the annual rate of cutting, and ensure prompt reforestation. The NFMA is a cornerstone of environmental law intended to protect biodiversity in National Forests and to ensure public involvement in forest planning and management. It provides for logging while recognizing “the fundamental need to protect and where appropriate, improve the quality of soil, water, and air resources.”

Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act is the law that defines the Environmental Protection Agency’s responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation’s air quality and the stratospheric ozone layer. The last major change in the law, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, was enacted by Congress in 1990. The Clean Air Act controls emissions from cars, industrial operations, power plants, landfills, and other sources of air pollution. Citizen suits through the Clean Air Act can provide cleaner air for communities near these sources of air pollution. 

Federal Land Policy and Management Act

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) is a United States federal law that governs the way in which the public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management are managed. The land must be managed in a way that protects the integrity of the natural resources and cultural or historical artifacts found on the land. FLPMA also ensures protection for vital lands and establishes areas of the land with environmental significance.

Sage Hen Integrated Restoration Area

The Sage Hen area is located in the Boise National Forest and, if allowed to move forward, would authorize a conditions-based management scheme where all ground disturbing activities (logging, prescribed burns, hazardous fuels reduction) would, essentially, be authorized over the entire project area, but the Forest Service would decide which treatments were appropriate once it started work on that area. Condition-based management is a loss for the environment and for public participation in federal activities. Christy Law assisted with representing several local environmental groups to stop this planned action.

Groups Represented: Wildlands Defense, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection

Documents: 60-day notice to sue, Amended complaint

Status: Still pending


Christy Law can help your voice be heard

Rulemaking hearings: Would you or your organization like to participate in a hearing but are unsure how to proceed? The language of the rules can often be technical and the rules of procedure confusion. Jessica Christy has participated in both state and federal rulemaking hearings and can help your voice be heard. Past examples include:

  • Representation of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in numerous rulemaking proceedings
    • Oil and Natural Gas: Contributed to submitted written comments in December 2018 and November of 2019 (also including follow up rebuttal and supplemental comments) and participated in meetings with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for EPA’s recent rules addressing emissions standards under its New Source Performance Standards program for sources in the Oil and Natural Gas source category
    • Denver/Front Range Ozone Reclassification: Submitted oral testimony and comments to EPA in support of reclassifying the Denver/Front Range area as serious nonattainment with the 2008 NAAQS standard for ozone in September 2019
    • Landfills: Contributed to written comments submitted to EPA opposing its proposed postponement of due dates for State Implementation Plans related to capturing landfill gas
  • Assisted with drafting comments addressing EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule on behalf of Earthjustice in the spring of 2017
  • Provided support to nonprofit for the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division’s ongoing rulemakings regarding venting and flaring in oil and gas operations

Litigation: Often a last resort, sometimes litigation is the only way to prevent imminent harm. Jessica Christy has significant experience assisting citizen groups with various stages of litigation:

  • Oil and Natural Gas: Assisted EDF with voluminous discovery review and helped colleagues prepare for multiple deposition as well as initial briefing in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a 111(d) challenge to a delay in promulgating standards for methane emissions from existing sources under the Clean Air Act
  • Landfills: Provided EDF with research and drafting assistance for multiple motions and merits briefing rounds in the Northern District of California and assisted with responding to government’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Assisted with hearing and argument preparation. Provided research and drafting support to challenge to underlying rule in D.C. Circuit
  • Waste Prevention Rule: Contributed to EDF’s briefing and oral argument preparation in the Northern District of California through legal research and writing and practice mooting sessions

Freedom of Information Act/Colorado Open Records Act/Open Meetings Law: Christy Law can help you at any stage of your FOIA/CORA/OML request, including appeals. Jessica Christy has contributed to every step of these proceedings including:

  • Managed FOIA docket containing over 10 requests for EDF, including drafting request letters, communicating with agency representatives managing requests, ensuring production deadlines were met, and any other necessary follow up
  • Filed two administrative appeals addressing defects in the government’s response, including inappropriately redacted material, documents improperly omitted from the production, and insufficient justification of redacted and withheld material and received a favorable ruling in both

Land Use: Christy Law can help navigate the various stages in the land use, zoning, and annexation process, including appeals

  • Assisted with representation of neighbors who were concerned about a potential land purchase by their town. The town decided to delay a vote to allow more time for public input and legal advice

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