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Recreational Elk Hunting Does Not Require Yearly NEPA Review

The 'Jackson Herd' is one of the largest elk herds in North America.

If you have seen a postcard of the majestic Grand Teton National Park, the herd may have been in the picture. Thousands of the animals roam the park and the neighboring National Elk Refuge.

Kent Nelson and Timothy Mayo, wildlife photographers, sued to stop a government plan to allow more elk hunting in the national park. Denying the challenge, the DC Circuit told the plaintiffs to move on.

Court Blocks Trump's Transgender Military Ban

As a federal judge blocked President Trump's order against transgender people in the military, his transgender ban and travel bans started to sound alike.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued an injunction against Trump's directive on transgender military members, which he had dumbed down after a political backlash in July. Instead of a ban, the President said in August that transgender service members could be discharged.

It's more of the same, however, as the courts have pushed back repeatedly against the President's executive orders. Assuming more of his advisers are not indicted, Trump will probably appeal.

English-Only Emergency Alerts Backed by Circuit Court

The hurricane was long gone by the time the plaintiffs got to court.

They petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to order broadcasters to issue warnings in multiple languages. After all, the storm had destroyed many immigrant communities.

But the FCC tabled the idea for non-English alerts, and now a federal appeals court has upheld that decision. That was for Hurricane Katrina -- 12 years ago.

The White House has announced President Donald Trump's pick for the vacant seat on D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Gregory Katsas, the current deputy counsel in the White House Counsel's Office.

If Katsas is confirmed by the Senate, the conservative seat vacated by Judge Janice Rogers Brown will be filled by another conservative. Katsas, whose distinguished legal career has never included serving as a justice, is expected to be questioned as to his prior casework as an attorney, as well as his motivations and politics, given his close ties to the current White House.

Circuit Strikes EPA Ban on Aerosol Chemical

Somewhere in the contentious air over climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency went too far.

A federal appeals court said that happened when the EPA banned hydrofluorocarbons, a chemical found in aerosol spray cans that scientists have linked to global warming. The agency has authority to outlaw ozone-depleting chemicals, but HFC's are not ozone-depleting.

"Here, EPA has tried to jam a square peg (regulating non-ozone-depleting substances that may contribute to climate change) into a round hole (the existing statutory landscape)," Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency.

DC Circuit Takes on the 'Case of the Incredible Shrinking Seat'

It's not your imagination if you think airline seats are getting smaller. Even the U.S Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has taken note.

"As many have no doubt noticed, aircraft seats and the spacing between them have been getting smaller and smaller, while American passengers have been growing in size," Judge Patricia Millett wrote in Flyers Rights Education Fund v. Federal Aviation Administration.

DC Circuit Judge on Drones: 'Our Democracy Is Broken'

Judge Janice Rogers Brown said courts should not step into political issues, like deciding whether the United States wrongfully killed bystanders in a drone attack.

Then the judge told us how she really felt about it.

"Our democracy is broken," she wrote in Ahmed Salem Bin Ali Jaber v. United States. "We must, however, hope that it is not incurably so."

Net Neutrality Rules Stand -- for Now

A federal appeals court let stand a decision upholding net neutrality rules, staying the course in a three-way race among internet service providers, government and consumers over the fate of the controversial rules.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia refused to rehear last year's ruling, which held that internet service providers were common carriers and could not regulate internet traffic. The decisions are a setback to ISPs that sued the Federal Communications Commission, but the court pointed out that the contest over net neutrality is far from over.

"The agency will soon consider adopting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would replace the existing rule with a markedly different one," the appeals court said in United States Telecom Association v. FCC. "In that light, the en banc court could find itself examining, and pronouncing on, the validity of a rule that the agency had already slated for replacement."

Timber Industry Wins Round Against Spotted Owl

Although it may ruffle the feathers of environmentalists, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the timber industry and against the spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said a lumber association has standing to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its designation of 9.5 million acres of land as a critical habitat for the northern spotted owl. The decision revives a lawsuit by the American Forest Resource Council that claimed the regulation cut back the industry in California, Oregon, and Washington.

"The Council has demonstrated a substantial probability that the critical habitat designation will cause a decrease in the supply of timber from the designated forest lands, that Council members obtain their timber from those forest lands, and that Council members will suffer economic harm as a result of the decrease in the timber supply from those forest lands," the appellate panel said in Carpenters Industrial Council v. Zinke.

The EPA, now under new management, wants to delay litigation over its 2015 smog standard. The agency asked the D.C. Circuit last week to put off upcoming oral arguments in an appeal challenging the standard. On Tuesday, the circuit complied, postponing arguments while the EPA reconsidered its position.

The standard, intended to reduce air pollution and prevent lung and heart disease, was challenged by ten state attorneys general, including Scott Pruitt, who has now become the EPA's Administrator. The delay gives the agency time to review the regulation "to determine whether the Agency should reconsider the rule or some part of it."