Articles Posted in Environmental Law

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The Ohio Power Siting Board granted a certificate to Champaign Wind, LLC to construct a wind farm in Champaign County. Appellants, a collection of local governmental entities and residents, appealed the Board’s decision, challenging various discovery and evidentiary rulings by the Board and the Board’s determination that the proposed wind farm meets the statutory criteria for siting a major utility facility. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants failed to demonstrate that the Board’s decision was unreasonable or unlawful or that the Board’s discovery and evidentiary rulings meaningfully affected the outcome of the proceeding. View "In re Application of Champaign Wind, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ohio Power Siting Board granted a certificate to Champaign Wind, LLC to construct a wind farm in Champaign County. Appellants, a collection of local governmental entities and residents, appealed the Board’s decision, challenging various discovery and evidentiary rulings by the Board and the Board’s determination that the proposed wind farm meets the statutory criteria for siting a major utility facility. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants failed to demonstrate that the Board’s decision was unreasonable or unlawful or that the Board’s discovery and evidentiary rulings meaningfully affected the outcome of the proceeding. View "In re Application of Champaign Wind, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Tussing Road Water Reclamation Facility in Fairfield County is required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). The Fairfield County Board of Commissioners challenged the validity of new phosphorus limitations added on to the Tussing Road plant’s renewed NPDES permit, alleging that Ohio EPA ignored the administrative rulemaking procedures required by the Ohio Administrative Procedure Act (the Act) and imposed the new limits solely on a federally approved total maximum daily load (TMDL) report previously issued for the watershed in question. Specifically, the County contended that it should have had a full and fair opportunity to be heard and the right to review and challenge the TMDL before it was submitted to United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). The Court of Appeals vacated the NPDES phosphorus limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a TMDL established by Ohio EPA is a rule that is subject to the requirements of the Act, and therefore, Ohio EPA must follow the rulemaking procedure in the Act before submitting a TMDL to U.S. EPA for its approval and before the TMDL may be implemented in an NPDES permit. View "Fairfield Cty. Bd. of Comm’rs v. Nally" on Justia Law

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Appellants owned the mineral rights and the State owned the surface rights to a certain tract of land. When the property was transferred to the State, the seller reserved all mineral rights and “reasonable surface right privileges.” Appellants filed a complaint for declaratory judgment seeking a determination that they were entitled to surface-mine a reasonable portion of the property. The court of common pleas granted summary judgment for the State, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the contract entitled Appellants to surface-mine the property, subject to the reasonableness standard of the contract. Remanded. View "Snyder v. Ohio Dep’t of Natural Res." on Justia Law

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The Power Siting Board issued a certificate to Black Fork Wind Energy, LLC to construct a proposed wind farm in Richland and Crawford counties. Appellants, who lived near or within the boundaries of the project area, appealed, arguing, among other things, that the Board violated their right to procedural due process by prohibiting Appellants from cross-examining Board staff members and by "prohibiting the presentation of evidence" at the evidentiary hearing on the application to site the project. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants failed to sustain their burden of showing that the Board's order was unlawful or unreasonable. View "In re Application of Black Fork Wind Energy, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Shelly Company, an Ohio corporation engaged in the business of surfacing roads, owned several subsidiaries, including appellants Shelly Materials, Inc. and Allied Corporation (collectively, Shelly). The hot-mix asphalt facilities were regulated by the Ohio EPA pursuant to air-pollution-control permits issued to Shelly. In July 2007, the State filed suit against Shelly, alleging that the companies had violated state law and Ohio's federally approved plan for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of air-quality standards as required by the federal Clean Air Act. The court found for the state on some, but not all, claims for relief, and issued a civil penalty. At issue on appeal was the proper method of calculating the civil penalty to be levied against the industrial facility with the terms of its air-pollution-control permit. The appellate court concluded that according to the terms of the permit, the penalty was to be calculated from the initial date of noncompliance until the facility demonstrated that it no longer violated the permit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court reached the proper conclusion in this matter. View "State ex rel. Ohio Attorney Gen. v. Shelly Holding Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, lakefront property owners and others, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and mandamus against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the State, seeking declarations that owners of property abutting Lake Erie hold title to the land between the high-water mark and the actual legal boundary of their properties as defined in their deeds or a writ of mandamus to compel ODNR to compel the State to compensate them for its alleged taking of the property. The trial court subsequently consolidated the action of other Plaintiffs claiming ownership of their land to the low-water mark of Lake Erie. The trial court concluded that the public-trust territory of Lake Erie was a moveable boundary consistent with the water's edge. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's holdings regarding the boundary of the public trust. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the territory of Lake Erie is held in public trust and extends to the natural shoreline, which is the line at which the water usually stands when free from disturbing causes; and (2) the boundary of the public trust does not change from moment to moment, and artificial fill cannot alter the boundary. Remanded. View "State ex rel. Merrill v. Dep't of Natural Res." on Justia Law