Monsanto Uses the Constitution to Challenge Warning Labels for Herbicide

Monsanto has, at least temporarily, lost its fight to avoid a Prop 65 warning label on its products containing glyphosate, a chemical used in the popular herbicide Roundup.  On January 27, 2017, a California judge tentatively dismissed Monsanto’s claims that the State of California unconstitutionally turned to an unelected, European organization to decide whether glyphosate posed a cancer risk. Continue Reading

Keeping Information Confidential: What Businesses Need to Know About Recent Developments under FOIA and the CWA

Most businesses face numerous privacy concerns. Businesses that provide confidential information to regulatory agencies face a unique challenge: How can they keep this information private?

Recently, several hundred power plants faced this challenge when environmental groups sued EPA to compel disclosure of confidential information the plants had provided to EPA. The case highlights the different tactics groups may take to obtain information, and reminds businesses to be aware of the laws governing confidentiality of information. Continue Reading

Renewable Energy Development Can Still Look to PURPA as New Administration Moves In

With the inauguration of President Trump as the 45th President of the United States, stakeholders in various sectors of the energy industry have speculated about the future of energy policy in the new administration. While the early days of the administration have seen a clear commitment to the oil and gas sectors with action on the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, the question remains regarding the president’s anticipated support of the renewable energy sector. Continue Reading

Ag’s Big Win: Iowa Supreme Court Denies Water Utility’s State Law Claims against Drainage Districts

In a big win for the agricultural community, the Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled against Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) in its state law claims against upstream drainage districts for nitrate pollution in the Raccoon River. See Bd. of Water Works Trs. of Des Moines v. SAC Cty. Bd. of Supervisors, No. 16-0076, 2017 WL 382402 (Iowa Jan. 27, 2017). The ruling instructs the federal court to dismiss DMWW’s state law claims (leaving only DMWW’s federal claims, which concern whether the districts should be regarded as ‘point sources’ under the Clean Water Act (CWA)). The ruling means that even if DMWW wins on its federal claims, DMWW—and thus the citizens who consume DMWW water—will have to foot the bill for any future nitrate processing. Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Decide Proper Forum to Review WOTUS Rule Challenges

The U.S. Supreme Court on January 13, 2017, granted the National Association of Manufacturers’ request to determine whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was correct in concluding that it had jurisdiction to hear legal challenges to the Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS Rule). Continue Reading

FERC Issues Fast-Start Resources NOPR

On December 15, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) in Docket No. RM17-3-000 regarding fast-start resources operating in markets run by independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs). Specifically, the NOPR addresses the manner in which ISOs and RTOs should incorporate offers from fast start-resources into their Day Ahead and Real Time energy prices. FERC claims that these efforts are another step to improve price formation in wholesale electricity markets. Continue Reading

Congress Amends RCRA and Establishes a New Coal Ash Permit Program

On December 16, 2016, President Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law. The WIIN Act is heralded as a bill addressing navigation and flood control, and authorizes funding to address drinking water emergencies in communities like Flint, Michigan. Included in the WIIN Act are amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that create a new state permit program for the management and closure of coal combustion residuals (CCR) units. As we explained in our October 10, 2016 and September 23, 2016 blog posts, the amendment authorizes states to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval of a permit program or alternative approval system for regulating CCR units that would operate in lieu of the CCR Rule.[1] The amendment allows states to adopt different technical standards from the CCR Rule so long as the standards are at least as protective as the federal rule. In circumstances where a state does not seek approval of a permit program or where EPA denies a state application, the amendments require EPA to adopt a permit program in lieu of the self-implementing rule, provided Congress provides funding for EPA to carry out a permit program. If no permit program is in effect in a state, the CCR Rule will remain self-implementing. Continue Reading

TSCA and Asbestos—a New Approach or One That Reveals the Same Old Problems?

On November 29, EPA announced that it will review the hazard and exposure risks caused by asbestos. Asbestos will be one of the first ten substances to be evaluated under the TSCA amendments commonly referred to as the Lautenberg Act. As we have discussed elsewhere, TSCA now requires EPA to produce a risk evaluation work plan for these substances by June 2017 and complete its evaluation within three years following. If EPA determines any of these substances pose unreasonable risks, then EPA must take further action to mitigate any risks. Continue Reading

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