On December 7, 2021, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) filed proposed amendments to Illinois’ groundwater quality standards with the Illinois Pollution Control Board (Board). The proposal includes Class I and Class II groundwater quality standards for six per- and polyfuoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA).  Illinois follows several states that are choosing to regulate PFAS constituents while federal regulation of the constituents is pending. Ubiquitous, PFAS can be found in a variety of consumer products, industrial processes, and fire-fighting foams, and can come to be located throughout the environment.

Continue Reading Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Proposes New PFAS Standards

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently made several announcements regarding its goals for investigating, regulating, and remediating Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), a group of chemicals used in a variety of consumer and industrial products since the early 1940s. In the environment, PFAS can be found in soil, groundwater, surface water, and the air. PFAS are ubiquitous in the environment due to their widespread use, their ability to travel long distances, and the long length of time it takes for them to break down. Although they have been subject to study for some time under the Safe Drinking Water Act, PFAS, known as “emerging contaminants,” are not comprehensively regulated at the federal level. EPA’s announcements demonstrate its intent to develop regulation of this category of chemicals.
Continue Reading EPA Makes PFAS Announcements, Issues PFAS Strategic Roadmap and Planned RCRA Hazardous Waste Designations

On January 19, the D.C. Circuit vacated the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE), a rule intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emitted from power plants. Am. Lung Ass’n et al. v. EPA, No. 19-1140. The lengthy opinion touches on numerous issues raised over the last 10 years as EPA has bumped toward the goal of regulating greenhouse gases. The opinion appears to be grounded in EPA’s own assertions, made in this and other rulemakings, that climate change is a grave threat to society and power plants are a significant source of GHGs.
Continue Reading Affordable Clean Energy Rule Vacated

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — long used in consumer and industrial products —  have recently been in the news and the subject of increased regulatory attention, resulting in proposed and implemented regulation on both the state and federal level. PFAS have been used in a variety of products including, fabric protectants, nonstick coatings on cookware, and fire-fighting foams.
Continue Reading Illinois EPA Proposes PFAS Groundwater Standards

The latest development in climate change litigation came out of last week’s Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissal – spurring more speculation that these issues will eventually be appealed to and decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. This is one of several novel cases around the country attempting to hold the federal government responsible for climate change.

The decision comes on the heels of a similar, closely watched, and highly publicized suit filed by 21 minors – Juliana v. U.S. – in which  an Oregon federal judge denied a comparable motion to dismiss, but granted interlocutory appeal, opening the door for it to be presented to the Ninth Circuit.
Continue Reading Latest Kids’ Climate Suit Development Increases Supreme Court Speculation

Administrative deference – in essence, that courts resolve close questions in favor of “expert” agencies – is a cornerstone of environmental practice and we’ve blogged frequently on this issue. Courts question agencies, however, when their decisions do not square with cited evidence. For regulatory challenges, courts also confine their review to the administrative record and agencies cannot interject new evidence during a judicial appeal of a regulation.
Continue Reading Administrative Deference Doesn’t Mean Anything Goes – Just Ask the D.C. Circuit

On September 7, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule updating the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) ozone season trading program.  The rule promulgates more stringent ozone season NOx budgets in several states.  CSAPR was promulgated to implement the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, which requires states to address the transport of pollution across state lines.
Continue Reading EPA Updates Cross-State Air Pollution Rule for the 2008 Ozone NAAQS

A team of Schiff Hardin attorneys compiled “Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law” for the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal originally published in the winter of 2016 (Vol. 51-2) on the evolving landscape of the environmental and toxic tort areas of law. Toxic tort-related topics covered by this article include the growing judicial rejection of the “any exposure” causation theory, heightened party disclosure rules in asbestos litigation, and federal preemption of the Engle Phase I jury findings.
Continue Reading Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law

On November 16, 2015, the United States EPA proposed updates to the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. These updates would require more stringent nitrogen oxide reductions from power plants in 23 states. EPA also proposes to address nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide requirements for 11 states whose original reduction requirements were remanded to EPA following recent court actions.

The Cross State Air Pollution Rule, better known as CSAPR, was originally promulgated in 2011 to force certain states to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) from power plants. EPA now proposes to update CSAPR to require 23 upwind states to further reduce ozone season NOx emissions, beginning in 2017, to ensure that downwind states can comply with the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone of 75 parts per billion (ppb).
Continue Reading EPA Proposes CSAPR Update Rule Requiring Additional NOx Reductions in 23 States

On October 5, 2015, the United States, BP Exploration and Production Inc. (BP), Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas lodged a Consent Decree with the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to resolve claims for federal civil penalties and natural resource damages (NRDs) related to the Deepwater Horizon drilling unit / Macando Well oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. If approved, this would be the largest natural resource damage settlement in U.S. history.
Continue Reading Proposed Largest Natural Resource Damages Settlement in U.S. History