DC Circuit - The FindLaw DC Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Property Law Category

DC Circuit Revives Purple Line Light Rail

Construction of Maryland's on-again, off-again Purple Line light rail is on again, following a ruling by a federal appeals court.

The $2.5 billion project had been on hold since last year when a federal judge blocked construction. Judge Richard Leon said the federal transportation authority needed to evaluate ridership and safety issues before proceeding.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stayed that order, however, pending an appeal in Fitzgerald v. Federal Transit Administration.

FERC properly allowed premium rates to be applied in the sale of a pipeline connecting Missouri and Illinois, the D.C. Circuit ruled this week. After MoGas, a pipeline operator, purchased a 5.6 mile natural gas pipeline running under the Mississippi River, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allowed it to charge premium rates as a "benefits exception" to usual limitations.

The Missouri Public Service Commission sued, arguing that purchasing the pipeline served no public benefit and ran counter to FERC precedent. The court, however, disagreed, choosing to defer to FERC's interpretation of its own regulations.

D.C. District Judge Blocks Wyo. Wolf Hunting

Grab yer guns and head out of Wyoming fellas, cuz there ain't no wolf huntin' here, at least for now.

A couple of years ago, we brought you the big news: Gray wolves were being taken off the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list after 10 years of waiting, all thanks to a bit of language slapped on to a defense bill. (Thanks Congress!) Once Congress cleared the federal red tape, it was up to the states to give the all-clear for wolf hunting.

Montana and Idaho were on board. Wyoming joined too. But last week, some namby-pamby judge in Washington, D.C., decided that Wyoming's laws weren't protective enough, and called a cease fire on fun.

The past few weeks have been busy for cases originating in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in three cases, two of them related, and issued a decision today. The two related cases involve the interpretation of the Administrative Procedure Act, the third case granted cert. involves the delegation doctrine, while the High Court decision issued today interprets the Clean Air Act.

For details on these cases, read on.

D.C. Cir.: Federal Reserve Can Limit Debit Card Fees

The D.C. Circuit recently decided that the Federal Reserve rule that limited the fees banks can charge merchants for debit card transactions is reasonable under the Dodd-Frank Act.

In NACS v. The Federal Reserve, the circuit court reversed the lower court's decision that found the Federal Reserve went outside its authority in setting a fee cap per transaction by misinterpreting the Dodd Act.

FERC Loses BNP Paribas Appeals Case in D.C. Cir.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) may need to reconsider its regulations regarding who pays for natural gas storage after the court ruled against it in BNP Paribas Energy Trading GP v. FERC.

It was disputed by BNP Paribas that FERC incorrectly assigned costs for natural gas storage. However, the judicial panel held that FERC failed to show any relevant changes to their historic, proportional-to-usage payment plan.

So how should fees be calculated?

Small Win for Chevron v Patton Boggs in Ecuador Litigation

The Chevron Ecuadorean litigation is full of drama. We’ve discussed the case in earlier posts, and here’s another case that stems from the Chevron situation.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a district court’s denial of declaratory judgment in favor of Patton Boggs, LLP in the litigation.

Home Builders Association Lacks Standing to Challenge EPA

Two stretches of Arizona's Santa Cruz River are still legally "navigable" much to the chagrin of a home builders agency after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The National Association of Home Builders and its two Arizona affiliates had tried to challenge the EPA's recent designation of the two river sections. The designation is important to home builders because streams that are legally navigable fall under the federal Clean Water Act, which imposes restrictions on any discharges into water that leads to those streams.

DC Cir. Decision Blows First Offshore Wind Farm Out of the Water

In a decision that will delay - or kill - a Cape Cod wind energy project, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently reminded us that a federal agency's departure from its own handbook is arbitrary and capricious.

Cape Wind Associates proposed building 130 wind turbines, each 440 feet tall, in a 25-square mile area of Nantucket Sound. If constructed, the project would be the nation's first offshore wind farm.

US v. Old Dominion Boat Club, No. 09-5363

Action by U.S. to Quiet Title

In US v. Old Dominion Boat Club, No. 09-5363, an action by the U.S. to quiet title to certain "filled," i.e., reclaimed, lands lying on the bed of the Potomac River, seeking to secure public access to the Alexandria, Virginia, waterfront, the court granted summary judgment for defendant where, as a riparian owner abutting District of Columbia waters, defendant had the right to lay fill and build wharves.