On March 30, 2021, Fred Wagner was quoted in Inside EPA on an upcoming hearing on the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) request to remand a Trump-era National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) streamlining rule so the Biden administration can reconsider it.
According to the article, Judge James Jones of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Virginia notified the parties to the litigation, Wild Virginia, et al. v. CEQ, of his decision in a March 29 order that says CEQ’s motion for remand without vacatur “will be argued on April 21, 2021, at the time and method previously scheduled. The parties may use their time allotted to argue both the pending motions for summary judgment or the motion for remand, or both, as they desire, subject to possible questions from court as to both motions.”
In response to the order, Kym Hunter of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), which is representing the plaintiffs who filed an opposition to CEQ’s motion, tells Inside EPA, “The Trump rule is illegal, and we can’t let it stand. We’re satisfied that the Biden administration is taking a hard look at it, and especially how the rule could harm vulnerable communities without the resources to push back against the government or industry. So, we can’t agree to anything that keeps the rule in place and we’re looking forward to making that argument next month.”
Wagner notes that Jones’s order, while not siding with SELC in rejecting CEQ’s remand motion, nonetheless “indicates that he is open to the plaintiffs’ demand for complete vacatur. More pressure [is] on CEQ to make some decisions soon.”