On March 26, 2021, Fred Wagner was quoted in Inside EPA on environmentalists’ opposition to the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) bid to remand a Trump-era National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) overhaul, which would leave the rule in place while CEQ reconsiders it.
According to the article, in Wild Virginia, et al. v. CEQ, more than a dozen environmental groups say the rule streamlining implementation of the landmark environmental law is unlawful and ask Judge James Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia to scrap it entirely.
A March 25, 2021 filing says the Biden administration is asking “this Court for what it has already rejected: further delay of an adjudication of the illegal rulemaking that is actively harming the Conservation Groups. Because the lengthy delay Defendants again seek remains inappropriate, and because they have not satisfied the standard for a voluntary remand without vacatur, the Court should deny this request, adjudicate the fully briefed merits of this case, and vacate the 2020 Rule to prevent further harm.”
Wagner tells Inside EPA that the opposition brief is strong “and the court has already shown [a] lack of tolerance for delay. I would put the odds of the court moving forward with oral argument and issuing a ruling pretty high.”
The environmentalists’ motion "highlights the procedural predicament the government is in with remand absent vacatur,” given the number of projects already being conducted under the new rule – the groups flagged at least a dozen they are of particular concern – and the expected increase in that number over time, he says.