2021 and Beyond: Environment and Energy Cases Involving the Biden Administration

This track­er was launched April 7, 2022. It was last updat­ed Novem­ber 72022

The State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter has cre­at­ed this chart to col­lect court deci­sions on chal­lenges to fed­er­al actions relat­ed to ener­gy and the envi­ron­ment dur­ing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion. This track­er will be updat­ed as new deci­sions are released. To sub­mit updates or cor­rec­tions please email: [email protected]​nyu.​edu.

20 cases match your search.   Download as CSV

Wins/Losses

Cases by category 1

Case
Appeal Status
Date
Category
Outcome 2
Judge Appt. 3
Win affirmed on appeal
October 19, 2022
Natural Resource Management
Win
D

Plaintiff's challenged the Forest Service's Spirit Lake Project Environmental Assessment (April 2020) and Decision Notice/Finding of No Significant Impact (March 2021). The federal district court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment. The federal appeals court affirmed.

Unsuccessful nominees challenged EPA decision that reconstituted the agency's advisory committees on air quality and sought a preliminary injunction or, in the alternative, partial summary judgment as to its claims regarding one of the committees. The Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment was denied.

Appealed No. 22-16483 (9th Cir. 2022)
September 22, 2022
Forest Management
Win
D

Plaintiffs challenged two projects authorized by Defendants to remove and thin some dead and down trees in the Yosemite Park area. The federal district court denied the Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction because they failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits and the public interest was in favor of denying the injunction.

Appealed No. 22-05244, No. 22-05238 (D.C. Cir. 2022)
September 8, 2022
Wildlife
Win
D

Plaintiff and Plaintiff-Intervenors challenged a National Marine Fisheries Service Biological Opinion and final rule as arbitrary and capricious and in violation of the ESA; the rule implemented the closure of certain fishing grounds for right whale conservation purposes. The district court denied Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and granted that of Defendants.

No appeal
August 18, 2022
Oil & Gas
Loss
R

Multistate coalition, led by Louisiana, challenged agency authority to pause oil and gas lease sales, seeking injunction. The federal appeals court vacated the federal district court's order, which granted the Plaintiff's preliminary injunction. On remand, the federal district court issued a permanent injunction enjoining Defendant's from implementing the pause of eligible oil and natural gas lease sales except for those cancelled or postponed after March 24, 2021, and as to any lease sales involving non-plaintiff states.

Loss reversed on appeal, No. 21-1873, 40 F.4th 36 (1st Cir. 2022)
July 12, 2022
Wildlife
Win
D

Lobster industry parties sought preliminary injunction against NMFS rule, which implemented a restricted area for buoy-line lobster fishing to prevent North Atlantic right whale entanglements. The federal district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction in part and denied in part, enjoining enforcement of the seasonal closure until a decision was made regarding whether the rule was lawful. Government appealed and the federal appeals court vacated Plaintiff’s preliminary injunction and remanded for further proceedings. Upon remand, the parties stipulated to a dismissal of the action.

Local governments and a trade association opposed two delays of the FWS’ January 2021 Critical Habitat Rule, which shrunk previously designated critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl. Federal district court dismissed as moot in light of the issuance of a new final habitat rule in November 2021, which formally withdrew the delays.

Appealed and remanded, affirming in part and reversing in part, No. 21-16238, 2022 WL 229172 (9th Cir. 2022)
May 27, 2022
Wildlife
Win
R

NGO coalition challenged logging project that would potentially affect the critically endangered Southern Sierra Nevada Pacific Fisher. The federal appeals court reversed dismissal of one claim and remanded for further consideration. After the federal district court denied Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs filed notice of voluntary dismissal and court closed the case.

Plaintiff’s challenged Defendant's "Ripley Project," which would authorize new road construction and timber harvest activities across 29,180 acres of land. The federal district court granted Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction.

Appealed and stayed
March 16, 2022
Social Cost of Carbon
Loss
R

Multistate coalition, led by Louisiana, challenged use of interim social cost of carbon issued by Interagency Working Group, seeking preliminary injunction. The federal district court granted the preliminary injunction and the federal appeals court stayed the district court order.

Appealed No. 22-35376 (9th Cir. 2022)
March 14, 2022
Public Lands
Win
R

State challenged Bureau of Land Management decision which delayed the effect of Trump-era Public Land Orders (“PLO’s”). The federal district court held that Congress did not intend to impose on BLM an obligation to publish a PLO once it is signed and that the decision to delay the effect of the PLO’s was not a final agency action. Defendant’s motion to dismiss was granted.

Non-profits challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s “Elk Smith Project,” which authorized the burning/tree-cutting of 10,329 acres of land within “Inventoried Roadless Area’s.” The federal district court denied the Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and granted the Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Ranch challenged EPA authority to enter its property to investigate potential CWA violations and challenged adequacy of EPA FOIA response. The federal district court granted the Defendant's motion to dismiss and denied Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint.

No appeal
January 28, 2022
Wildlife
Win
D

NGO coalition challenged BLM proposed action to reduce wild horse populations, seeking preliminary injunction. The federal district court denied the Plaintiff's motion.

Appealed by Intervenor-Defendants (D.C. Cir. 22-05037)
January 27, 2022
Oil & Gas
Loss
D

NGO coalition challenged lease of land in Gulf of Mexico for oil production for failure to estimate downstream greenhouse gas emissions. The federal district court issued a mixed opinion and Intervenor-Defendants, including state of Louisiana, appealed. A decision on motions to dismiss is pending.

Multistate coalition, led by Texas, challenged decision revoking permit granted for construction of Keystone XL Pipeline. The federal district court granted the Defendant's motion to dismiss.

Oklahoma sought to enjoin the Department of Interior from enforcing its May 18, 2021 decision, which the state argued would unlawfully strip it of its jurisdiction to regulate surface coal mining and reclamation operations by imposing, instead, a federal program within the lands of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The federal district court denied Oklahoma’s motion for preliminary injunction, holding that the plain language of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act precluded state-administered reclamation or regulatory programs on “Indian land.”

Win affirmed on appeal
October 21, 2021
Social Cost of Carbon
Win
D

Multistate coalition, led by Missouri, challenged Executive Order 13990, creating Interagency Working Group tasked with determining social cost of carbon. The federal district court dismissed coalition’s motion for preliminary injunction as moot and granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject jurisdiction. The federal appeals court affirmed the district court's judgment.

Louisiana challenged National Marine Fisheries Service rule requiring turtle exclusion devices on certain shrimping boats, seeking preliminary injunction. The federal district court granted the preliminary injunction. A decision on motions for summary judgment is pending.

Appealed and stayed pending appeal. No. 21-35785 (9th Cir. 2021)
July 23, 2021
Forest Management
Loss
D

Plaintiff challenged the Forest Service's Decision Memo (October 2018) and Supplemental Decision Memo (May 2021) approving the Hanna Flats Project, which includes logging, burning, and clear cutting of about 2,000 acres on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The federal district court granted Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and suspended the project until further order of the court.

  1. Where multiple categories apply to a case, it will be included in each category, leading to an inflation of total case numbers.
  2. “Outcome” refers to the ultimate outcome (including outcome on appeal) from the perspective of the Biden administration.
  3. “Judge Appt” tracks the political party affiliation of the judge’s nominating president. If the decision was issued by a panel of judges, this section tracks the political party affiliation of the nominating president for the majority of the judges on the panel.