Statutory Interpretation

The Cocktail Conundrum
A common question that we all ask whenever we meet someone new in a social setting is “what do you do?” This seemingly innocuous question always makes me brace myself for the inevitable exchange that will follow. When I say that I am an environmental attorney, the next question is almost always whether I work for the “good” or “bad” guys. The clear assumption in this question is that environmental advocacy groups are “good,” while industry parties are “bad.” But is this issue really that black and white? Based on my experience, no. The issue is far from being that simplistic.

Continue Reading The Cocktail Conundrum

As previous Nickel Report posts have discussed, congressional efforts to rein in freewheeling agency interpretation and reinterpretation of ambiguous statutes have begun to intensify, and calls to reconsider Chevron deference have increased from both within the judiciary and without. One of the most vocal and eloquent critics of Chevron and its progeny, notably Mead and Brand X, is Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy. In Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, 834 F.3d 1142 (10th Cir. 2016), Judge Gorsuch penned an exhaustive and erudite analysis of the tension between the separation of powers that the US Constitution demands and the deference that Chevron and Brand X require courts to afford to reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes, even if those interpretations differ from those previously announced by the courts.

Continue Reading Judge Gorsuch, Meet the Water Transfer Rule

Food_Candy Pops

Recently, several of the environmental attorneys in our Washington office gathered together to sign holiday cards. During the festivities, the song “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton played, leading to a spirited discussion of what did the words “a hard candy Christmas” mean? Was this type of Christmas good or bad? Was this song happy or sad?


Continue Reading “A Hard Candy Christmas” and Environmental Law