Description: Challenge to EPA's designation of an ocean dumping site in Long Island Sound.
Town of Southold v. Wheeler
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/02/2022 Opinion Download Second Circuit affirmed summary judgment for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Second Circuit Rejected New York and Town of Southold Challenges to Dredging Disposal Site in Long Island Sound. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s conclusion that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not violate the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) when the agency designated a new waste disposal site for dredging byproducts in Long Island Sound. The Second Circuit first concluded that the district court properly applied the Administrative Procedure Act’s deferential arbitrary-and-capricious standard for judicial review of the CZMA claim. The Second Circuit further found that EPA adequately justified its determination under the CZMA that designation of the disposal site was consistent with the Long Island Sound Coastal Management Program authored by New York State and the Town of Southold Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Among the objections that the Second Circuit rejected was New York’s contention that a new dredging site was not needed. New York’s argument included that EPA’s estimate of how much dredged material could require disposal should not have included 15.5 million cubic yards of dredged sand that might be used for beach renourishment projects. New York had alleged in its complaint that sea level rise and increasingly intense storm events would increase demand for such projects. The Second Circuit also ruled that the Town of Southold could not assert its National Environmental Policy Act claim on appeal after it abandoned the claim in its summary judgment briefing.
Rosado v. Wheeler
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/17/2020 Memorandum and Order Download Defendants' and defendant-intervenors' motions for summary judgment granted. Federal Court Rejected New York’s Challenge to Dredge Disposal Site in Long Island Sound. The federal district court for the Eastern District of New York upheld EPA’s designation of an open-water dredge disposal site in Long Island Sound. The court rejected claims by New York State that EPA had failed to comply with the Marine Protection, Research, and Safety Act (MPRSA) and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) when it designated the site, which is known as the Eastern Long Island Sound Site (Eastern Site). As a threshold matter, the court rejected EPA’s argument that sovereign immunity barred MPRSA claims. On the substance of the claims, the court first found that EPA had justified its determination that a new disposal site was needed. Second, the court was not persuaded that EPA failed to consider vessel traffic across the site, finding that the record “plainly demonstrates” that the designation comported with EPA’s navigation-related regulatory criteria. Third, the court found that EPA “properly balanced the preference for historic sites,” which New York said should have been used, against other EPA regulatory criteria that “reflect the full range of environmental values embedded in the MPRSA.” Fourth, the court said there was no basis for New York’s claim that EPA failed to consider environmental impacts of dredged materials that are exempt from MPRSA standards such as non-federal projects of less than 25,000 cubic yards. Finally, the court held that EPA’s consistency determination under the CZMA “was the result of a thorough and reasonable analysis of the relevant factors and different alternatives available.” In addition, the court found that EPA sufficiently responded to comments and objections raised by the Town of Southold, a Fishers Island resident, and the Fishers Island Conservancy. 01/02/2018 Memorandum Download Memorandum and order issued granting Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's and the Town of Southold's motions to intervene. 08/17/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. New York Challenged EPA Designation of New Ocean Dumping Site, Saying EPA Failed to Account for Future Resilience Projects That Would Require Dredged Materials. The State of New York, its secretary of state, and the commissioner of its environmental regulatory agency sued EPA to challenge its designation of a permanent open water site in the eastern Long Island Sound for disposal of dredged materials. EPA designated the site as one of two new dumping sites in the sound pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, also commonly known as the Ocean Dumping Act. The plaintiffs charged that EPA had acted arbitrarily and capriciously, including by “unreasonably inflat[ing] the projected dredged material disposal needs for the area.” The plaintiffs cited, among other factors, increased need for sand and coarse-grained sediment for beach nourishment and other coastal resilience projects due to sea level rise and increasingly frequent intense storm events.