Energy & Environmental Law

Peabody, largest US coal miner, files for bankruptcy

April 13, 2016
 Associated Press
Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal miner, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday as a crosscurrent of environmental, technological and economic changes wreak havoc across the industry.
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Indiana and other states choking on EPA’s new Clean Power Plan

March 9, 2016
Marilyn Odendahl
The Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases by imposing caps on states regarding carbon dioxide emissions, has incited a backlash that began before the rule was even published in the Federal Register. A coalition of states, including Indiana, is seeking review of the plan in federal court, claiming the rule exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency's statutory authority.
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‘No more stringent’ restrained

March 9, 2016
Dave Stafford
Manufacturers, agriculture and other big Hoosier industries pegged House Bill 1082 at the top of their legislative agenda this year. So did about 20 environmental, health and public-interest groups that opposed the measure barring Indiana from adopting environmental regulations tougher than federal standards.
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Waterhouse: An environmental justice challenge for Indiana

March 9, 2016
Sadly, many Indiana children are at an even greater risk than children in other states for lead poisoning.
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Gardner: Judicial deference and the Clean Power Plan

March 9, 2016
Justice Scalia’s long and momentous career on the U.S. Supreme Court gave us innumerable important decisions (and scathing dissents) that have shaped the intersection of administrative and environmental law.
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Scalia vacancy boosts prospects for Obama’s carbon-cutting plan

February 17, 2016
 Bloomberg News
The U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death improves the outlook for President Barack Obama’s controversial plan to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants, just a week after the court raised doubts about its viability.
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Challenges to Peabody Energy's coal mine self-bonding grow

February 15, 2016
 Associated Press
A Midwestern environmental group has followed through on its promise to formally challenge Peabody Energy's ability to guarantee it has enough money for future cleanup of its Illinois and Indiana coal mines.
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Obama vows to press ahead on Clean Power Plan after setback

February 10, 2016
 Associated Press
The administration of President Barack Obama is vowing to press ahead with efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions after a divided U.S. Supreme Court put his signature plan to address climate change on hold until after legal challenges are resolved.
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High court upholds government's energy conservation program

January 25, 2016
 Associated Press
The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld a 4-year-old federal program that pays large electric customers to save energy during times of peak demand.
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Edwardsport plant foes finally reach settlement with Duke

January 15, 2016
Indianapolis Business Journal, John Russell
The bitterest foes of Duke Energy Corp.’s Edwardsport coal-gasification plant have agreed to drop their objections and join a settlement that would resolve many of the issues over how much ratepayers will be charged.
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Ringleader in $90M fuel scam sentenced to 20 years

January 8, 2016
 Associated Press, Indianapolis Business Journal
The ringleader of a $90 million biodiesel scam operated in central Indiana was sentenced Thursday to serve 20 years in prison and to pay more than $56 million in restitution for his role in the fraud.
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Judge issues $50M judgment against Elkhart environmental nuisance

November 25, 2015
Dave Stafford
Residents who live near a waste dump and wood-waste processing facility in Elkhart won a default judgment of more than $50 million against the former owners. The sum appears largely a symbolic figure, however.
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EPA intends tougher downwind air-pollution rule in 23 states

November 18, 2015
 Associated Press
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed tougher new limits on Tuesday on smokestack emissions from nearly two dozen states — including Indiana — that burden downwind areas with air pollution from power plants they can't control.
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Coal ash expert to address Indiana environmental advocates

November 12, 2015
 Associated Press
An expert on the nation's coal ash ponds will address Indiana environmental advocates during their annual gathering focusing on the state's upcoming legislative session.
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IURC must reconsider Vectren’s plant modification, rate reimbursement requests

October 29, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
Even though a utility company completed many of the projects it received approval for regarding modifications of coal-powered generating stations, that does not render an appeal by various environmental groups moot, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.
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Indiana part of lawsuit challenging EPA carbon rule

October 23, 2015
 Bloomberg News, IL Staff
Indiana and 22 other states filed a legal challenge Friday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new rule requiring existing power plants to make technological changes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The rule change is expected to unleash a flood of lawsuits from lawyers challenging everything from the timing to the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s signature climate initiative.
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Trailblazing lawyer Sue Shadley dies

October 20, 2015
Dave Stafford
Indianapolis attorney Sue Shadley, who made her mark in environmental law and was a founding partner in what became one of the city’s major firms, died Monday from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
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Deed allows owners to make wells deeper, court rules

October 9, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A family that sold mineral rights to a company but reserved the rights to oil and gas from certain producing wells was not restricted by the deed from making the reserved wells deeper, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Friday.
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TDSIC settlement agreement rejected by state utility regulators

September 25, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
Citing the Indiana Court of Appeals’ ruling, the state utility regulatory agency rejected a power company’s attempt to use a new state statute to charge customers more.
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Duke rate hike from Edwardsport plant remanded

September 23, 2015
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission must weigh for the third time rate increases for Duke Energy consumers connected to delays in opening the Edwardsport coal gasification plant in Knox County.
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COA affirms IURC has no jurisdiction over gas vendor

August 28, 2015
Dave Stafford
A northern Indiana business that filed a complaint with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission when its gas bills were higher than expected lost its appeal of the agency’s dismissal of the complaint Friday.
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Fuel company settles claims over air emissions in 3 states

May 20, 2015
 Associated Press
Marathon Petroleum Corp. will pay a fine of nearly $3 million and spend another $2.8 million on pollution controls at its distribution terminals in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.
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House votes to block EPA regulation of streams, wetlands

May 13, 2015
 Associated Press
House Republicans on Tuesday voted to block government rules that would clarify which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected from pollution and development under the Clean Water Act.
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Farmers worry over reach of EPA water rules

May 12, 2015
 Associated Press
Government rules to clarify which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected from development and pollution are fueling political anger in the country's heartland.
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3 brothers plead guilty to massive biofuels scam

April 29, 2015
Indianapolis Business Journal
Three brothers have pleaded guilty to participating in a biofuels scam that federal investigators are calling “one of the largest tax and securities fraud schemes in Indiana history."
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  2. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  3. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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