Environmental justice remains a top concern for the Biden Administration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently highlighted in its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan (Strategic Plan) that it intends to enhance use of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “embed environmental justice and civil rights in the Agency’s core work” and to “strengthen civil rights enforcement in communities overburdened by pollution.”

Continue Reading EPA Places Environmental Justice Front and Center

We previously blogged here, here, and here about President Biden’s infrastructure plan, first proposed in March 2021. On August 10, 2021, the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that included many pieces of President Biden’s plan, but also contained numerous revisions, reflective of the compromises necessary to pass this ambitious legislation in the Senate.

The Senate approved bill scaled down Biden’s infrastructure plan—from $2,600 billion to $550 billion, cutting investments in research and development, clean energy tax credits, public buildings including schools and homes, and home- and community-based care. Here’s what the Senate bill included and what it cut.
Continue Reading The Senate Approved a $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill: Here’s What it Funds

In parts one and two of our series on President Biden’s infrastructure plan, we have discussed infrastructure resilience, remediation, green technologies, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Today, we focus on a central theme woven into President Biden’s proposal: equity and environmental justice.

Many of President Biden’s proposals fall into several of the four areas of federal policy intervention that environmental research institution Resources for the Future has identified as necessary for a fair transition to greener technology: workforce development and labor standards, economic development, environmental remediation and infrastructure, and public benefits. The summaries below include some of that overlap.
Continue Reading Biden Infrastructure Proposal Prioritizes Equity and Environmental Justice

We have previously blogged about President Biden’s infrastructure plan released in late March. The sweeping $2 trillion plan provides a blueprint designed to strengthen America’s infrastructure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This goal was also highlighted in the president’s recent discretionary spending request to Congress, requesting $1.8 billion in programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which EPA Administrator Michael Regan called “historic investments to tackle the climate crisis[.]”

In three principal areas — research and development, vehicle emissions, and building improvements — the Biden plan pushes to spur technological advancement and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Continue Reading Biden Infrastructure Proposal Plants Seeds for a Greener Tomorrow

President Biden’s sweeping infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, takes a broad view of what constitutes infrastructure and tackles many of the issues President Biden highlighted in his campaign, including climate change, the state of the country’s traditional infrastructure, and social inequality. The massive $2 trillion plan creates incentives and opportunities for utilities and other entities in the energy sector to remediate legacy sites and pivot toward a more resilient and greener energy infrastructure.
Continue Reading American Jobs Plan Targets Resilience, Green Tech, and Remediation to Strengthen Crumbling Infrastructure

A district court judge adopted the rarely applied “constructive submission” doctrine, which could ultimately give advocacy groups leverage over states that ignore Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements. This decision may embolden advocacy groups and comes at a time when, as noted in previous posts on this blog, enforcement actions brought by public citizens continue to grow as an effective means of enforcing environmental laws and regulations.
Continue Reading Advocacy Groups Have a New Opening to Enforce the CWA When States Do Not Act

In separate decisions, a federal district court in Alaska recently struck down two Trump Administration efforts to roll back President Obama’s environmental initiatives. Taken together, these decisions signal that citizen suits can, in some sense, limit the ability of the administration to “deregulate.” To the regulated community, these decisions should serve as a warning that we continue to be in an ever-shifting legal landscape where individual decisions can buck the current deregulatory climate.
Continue Reading Signs of Potential Trouble Ahead for Trump Administration’s Deregulatory Agenda

The Clean Water Act (CWA) term “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) has become an evolving term with an often squishy definition leading to considerable litigation – with last month’s Seventh Circuit decision providing new insight on both the definition and the concept of administrative deference in Orchard Hill Building Co. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Continue Reading WOTUS Wars: New Lessons from the Seventh Circuit

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 September 4, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned Citgo Petroleum Corporation’s two convictions under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and three convictions under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  The court held that the district court had erred in allowing improper jury instructions and had misinterpreted the MBTA’s “take” provision.  
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Lets Citgo Fly Free