Category Archives: Environmental

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EPA Takes Back Decision-Making Authority for the Most Costly Superfund Cleanups

Stunning early morning aerial flyover view of Green Bay Wisconsin, also known as Titletown, USA.In a break with long-standing policy, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken back authority to approve remedies costing $50 million or more at Superfund sites effective immediately. According to the delegation of authority memo issued on May 9, 2017, the purpose of these revisions is to promote accountability and consistency in the … Continue Reading

EPA Litigation Snapshot: Pivotal Cases See Continued Delays

GettyImages-187305260As the Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues the process of reconsidering Obama-era decisions, we have seen a flurry of EPA-requested stays on ongoing litigation related to rules and decisions from the prior administration. The courts have generally been willing to grant these motions, issuing 60, 90, or 120-day stays for most cases.… Continue Reading

Trump EPA Delays Ongoing Obama-Era Litigation

GettyImages-187305260President Trump recently issued two executive orders that aim to reform administrative regulations and improve domestic energy production. On January 30, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” which, among other things, introduced a regulatory impact cost cap for 2017. On March 28, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order … Continue Reading

EPA Announces Stay of Deadlines and Reconsideration of ELGs for Steam Electric Power Plants

GettyImages-182925285_bwOn April 12, 2017, the EPA announced that it will reconsider and administratively stay future deadlines of the 2015 final rule that set new, technology-based effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) and standards for steam electric power plants under the Clean Water Act. The final rule places significant burden on affected segments of the steam electric power … Continue Reading

California Prop 65 Decision Raises New Potential Conflict with Federal Pesticide Product Registration and Labeling Requirements

image006Monsanto officially lost its fight to avoid a Prop 65 warning label on its products containing glyphosate, a chemical used in the popular herbicide Roundup. As we previously reported, Monsanto argued that the State of California’s reliance on an unelected, European organization to decide that glyphosate poses a cancer risk was improper. Last month, a … Continue Reading

Virginia Ash Pond Seeps Violate CWA, But Do Not Warrant Civil Penalty

GettyImages-522560004-(1)A recent federal court ruling in a Sierra Club lawsuit against Dominion Virginia Power alleging violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) raises key questions about how other courts will interpret “point source” and “navigable waters” relative to ash ponds and groundwater releases, and whether a reasoned cost-benefit analysis can be used to substantially mitigate … Continue Reading

Energy Independence is Theme of Trump Environmental Plan

GettyImages-155600602On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) called “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”  The EO rescinds a host of climate change-related policies and rules instituted by the prior administration, including the Clean Power Plan and the Climate Action Plan. This new energy policy promotes all forms of domestic energy, and, … Continue Reading

Ag’s Big Win: A Follow Up

GettyImages-509493427The latest ruling in an Iowa case against Des Moines Water Works represents another win for farmers and the agricultural community. As we previously posted, in January the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against Des Moines Water Works on certified, state-law questions including whether drainage districts are immune from paying money damages. The case had come … Continue Reading

Run-Away Liability and the BNSF Ruling

Urban Track SwitchOn March 3, 2017, BNSF Railway entered into a proposed consent decree with multiple environmental groups, led by the Sierra Club. BNSF agreed to clean up what it characterized as “coal pollution” along its tracks in Washington, fund $1 million in additional environmental work, and study the feasibility of covering its railcars. In exchange, the … Continue Reading

Lessons Learned: Negotiating Covenants Not to Sue in Environmental Agreements

polluted river bankParties that settle environmental claims with the government frequently include covenants not to sue in their settlement agreements. But how does a party ensure that a covenant not to sue prevents the government from suing it again? By negotiating a broad covenant not to sue that contemplates all the ways in which the government may … Continue Reading

Monsanto Uses the Constitution to Challenge Warning Labels for Herbicide

Pouring water from pitcher into a glassMonsanto 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 … Continue Reading

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

iStock-495611952Most 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 … Continue Reading

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

Closeup shot of a man pouring a glass of fresh water from a kitchen faucetIn 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 … Continue Reading

Congress Amends RCRA and Establishes a New Coal Ash Permit Program

iStock-494896064_bwOn 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 … Continue Reading

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

iStock-509047434On 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 … Continue Reading

Asbestos Among First Ten Chemicals to be Reviewed Under the Amended TSCA

iStock-498015026EPA announced on June 29, 2016, that asbestos and nine other chemicals will be reviewed for hazard and exposure risks under the new procedures of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, the June 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act. Now that the ten chemicals have been chosen, EPA must produce a risk evaluation work … Continue Reading

Oregon Federal Court Allows Children’s Climate Change Suit to Proceed

iStock-184602649_BWOn November 10, 2016, a federal district court in Oregon allowed litigation to proceed against the federal government based on its alleged failure to protect future generations against the threat of climate change. See Juliana v. United States, No. 15-1517, 2016 WL 6661146 (D. Or. Nov. 10, 2016). The decision represents the first time a court … Continue Reading

EPA Must Examine Effects of Clean Air Act Regulations on Jobs

iStock_000075777829_Large_BWUnder a recent summary judgment decision from a federal district judge, the EPA must continuously examine the effects that certain Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations have on employment in the coal industry specifically and other industries more broadly. This means the EPA will be subject to increased requirements before taking action under the CAA. The ruling … Continue Reading

Methane Rule Update—Industry and Environmental Groups Seek Reconsideration

iStock_000014237389_Large_BWAs we previously wrote on this blog, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized New Source Performance Standards for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry on June 3, 2016. Both industry and environmental groups later submitted petitions for reconsideration of certain aspects of these New Source Performance Standards (the Methane Rule), which are now … Continue Reading
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