2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

EPA designated an area of Long Island, New York to receive material from future dredging of Long Island Sound. The State of New York opposed the designation, arguing that EPA’s designation violated the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).

Arbitrary and Capricious Standard
The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit affirmed EPA’s designation. In doing so, the 2nd Circuit applied the “arbitrary and capricious” standard to EPA’s action. This standard is deferential to the agency and affirms agency action unless the agency 1) relied on inappropriate factors, 2) entirely failed to consider an important factor, or 3) offered an explanation that runs counter to the evidence or is so implausible that it could not be the product of agency expertise.

Complex Factual Analysis
New York argued for “de novo” review, which would have the court make its own decision with no deference to EPA. According to New York, EPA had to comply with the CZMA, which required EPA to act in compliance with New York’s Coastal Zone Management Plan. New York argued this was a legal exercise, to which no deference need be given to EPA.

The 2nd Circuit held that EPA’s analysis of New York’s Plan was not a “pure question of statutory interpretation” but actually turned on “complex factual determinations.” As such, the “arbitrary and capricious” standard applied; using this standard, the 2nd Circuit affirmed.

To see the 2nd Circuit’s opinion https://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/2b906266-0e29-43fa-9ad0-078233df2d4d/5/doc/20-3188_opn.pdf