Archives: Environmental Litigation

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Increased Risk of Clean-Up Liability for Owners of Closed Council Landfill Sites in England and Wales

A recent Court of Appeal case, Powys County Council v Price and Hardwick, has addressed the issue of liability of successor public authorities under the UK contaminated land regime (Part 2A Environmental Protection Act 1990) (“Part 2A”). The case related to a landfill site that had been operated by local authorities of the county of … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Holds US EPA Cannot Stay Implementation of Methane Rule Issued by Obama Administration

On July 3, 2017, the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated US EPA’s decision to stay implementation of portions of a final rule concerning methane and other greenhouse gases.  In Clean Air Council v. Pruitt, a three-judge panel held that US EPA lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to stay the … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Strikes Down Portions of the RCRA Definition of Solid Waste Rule

On July 7, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision striking down portions of US EPA’s Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) Rule, which defines when certain hazardous secondary materials (i.e. recyclable materials generated as the remainder of industrial processes) become “discarded” and thus subject to regulation as a solid waste.  The Rule, … Continue Reading

US Lawmakers Target the Endangered Species Act While Advocates Continue to Sue to Shape the Act’s Implementation

Since President Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, the ESA has directed the identification and protection of endangered and threatened species in the United States. While President Obama remarked that his Administration had “seen more victories under the Endangered Species Act than any previous administration,” the Obama Administration generally applied the ESA … Continue Reading

Traditional SEPs and Mitigation Projects May Still Pass Muster under US DOJ’s New Settlement Policy

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently issued a new policy barring payments to non-governmental third parties as part of most civil and criminal settlements.  The memorandum does not detail how the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will implement the policy, leaving much to departmental interpretation.  The language is broad enough to have significant impacts on environmental settlements.  … Continue Reading

US EPA Approves Ohio’s Lake Erie Impairment Decision After Lawsuits Filed

US EPA recently approved Ohio’s 2016 list of impaired waters not meeting water quality goals which did not list the open waters of the Western Basin of Lake Erie as impaired. A coalition of environmental and conservation groups had recently filed lawsuits to force US EPA action on Ohio’s proposed listing in both the D.C. … Continue Reading

State Attorneys General Join Fight Over “1-in 2-out” Trump Executive Order

Attorneys General from 14 states—led by West Virginia and Wisconsin—filed an amicus brief on April 17 in support of the “1-in 2-out” Executive Order (EO) issued by President Trump.  This EO, which we have covered previously, requires that: For every new regulation promulgated, two regulations are eliminated; Any new incremental costs associated with new regulations … Continue Reading

UK Regulator Growth Duty – A New Era in Decision Making?

The economic growth duty came into force on 29 March 2017 under the Deregulation Act 2015 (the “DA 2015”) and requires many regulators in England and Wales to have regard to the “desirability of promoting economic growth”, alongside the delivery of protections set out in relevant legislation. The regulators to which it applies are set … Continue Reading

D.C. Court Gives US EPA 3 Years to Update National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants

On March 13, 2017, D.C. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan granted summary judgment to an environmental advocacy group and ordered US EPA to update its National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutant (NESHAP) rulemakings for 20 listed major source categories in three years. The soon-to-be updated major source categories will affect several industries, including: … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Declines Review of US EPA Practices on Blending and Mixing Zones

On February 28, the D.C. Circuit in Center for Regulatory Reasonableness v. US EPA dismissed a challenge to statements made by the US EPA regarding two wastewater treatment techniques – blending and the use of mixing zones. US EPA previously prohibited these techniques in specified circumstances, and in 2013, the Eighth Circuit vacated these prohibitions in Iowa League … Continue Reading

Are Changes on the Horizon to the Deference Historically Afforded to US Administrative Agencies?

As we have previously discussed on this blog, a cornerstone of US administrative law, Chevron deference, is in flux.  That fluctuation and its eventual resolution will impact US businesses, including in the promulgation of critical environmental regulations.  Chevron deference describes a doctrine articulated by a unanimous US Supreme Court in its 1984 decision, Chevron USA, Inc. … Continue Reading

UK Green Paper on Industrial Strategy: Environment Safety and Health Implications

The UK Government has published a Green Paper on Industrial Strategy, which identifies a number of challenges over the coming years, including: building on existing strengths and extending excellence into the future (with reference to the UK’s global reputation in industrial sectors – from automotive and aerospace to financial and professional services and the creative … Continue Reading

Successor Local Authorities May Be Liable Under the UK Contaminated Land Regime

The recent decision of the High Court in Price and Hardwicke v Powys County Council determined that a local authority may acquire potential liability under the contaminated land regime (“CLR”) from its statutory predecessor, notwithstanding that the CLR did not enter into force until over 5 years after the transfer of liabilities took place.… Continue Reading

Proposed Settlement Agreement Requires US EPA to Promulgate Perchlorate Regulations by the End of 2019

US EPA recently agreed in federal court to engage in a rulemaking process over the next three-plus years which would culminate in the promulgation of final perchlorate regulations by December 19, 2019. Perchlorate remains the only unregulated contaminant for which US EPA has made a final determination to regulate since the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was amended in … Continue Reading

Recent Developments in Oil Pollution Act Litigation

Congress enacted the Oil Pollution Act in 1990 following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in order to strengthen the federal government’s ability to prevent and respond to oil spills. As this law continues to evolve, particularly in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the Environmental Law Institute convened a panel of experts to discuss … Continue Reading

Oral Argument Approaching in Litigation to Expand 8th Circuit’s Ban on US EPA’s Blending Prohibition

Oral argument in the Center for Regulatory Reasonableness (CRR) v. EPA, Case No. 14-1150 (D.C. Cir.) matter has been set for October 21, 2016. At issue is the March 25, 2013 decision of the Eighth Circuit in Iowa League of Cities v. EPA, Case No. 11-3412, which vacated US EPA’s across-the-board prohibitions on the use … Continue Reading

Georgia and South Carolina are the Newest Battle Grounds for States’ Eminent Domain Authority

In 2005, the US Supreme Court held in Kelo v. City of New London that the city of New London, Connecticut could condemn 15 residential properties for a “public use” that entailed transferring the property to a new private owner.  The majority opinion backstopped its expansive definition of “public use” by emphasizing that “nothing in [its] … Continue Reading

Piercing the Corporate Veil Following Breaches of UK Environmental Permits

The recent Court of Appeal decision in R v Powell and Westwood contains an interesting insight into the extent to which company directors may find themselves personally liable for the cost of remediating contamination which has been caused or knowingly permitted by the companies that they control. It has confirmed that the corporate veil should … Continue Reading

NY Appeals Court: Environmental Cleanup Insurer’s Liability Limited to Insured Years

In a case of first impression, Keyspan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reins. Am., Inc., a New York appellate court reversed a lower court ruling and held that an insured, rather than its environmental cleanup insurer, must be allocated environmental cleanup costs for periods of time when the relevant insurance was not available in the marketplace.  The … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules Smelter Emissions Are Not a CERCLA Disposal

The Ninth Circuit’s recent opinion in Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., addressed whether, “[w]hen a smelter emits lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury compounds through a smokestack and those compounds contaminate land or water downwind, . . . the owner-operator of the smelter [can] be held liable for cleanup costs and natural resource damages under … Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Western Australia Rules that State Environmental Policies are Not ‘Relevant Considerations’ when Making an Environmental Impact Assessment

The port City of Fremantle, now considered by many as part of greater Metropolitan Perth, has been home to Fremantle Port since the turn of the 19th Century. For more than a century, 90% of Western Australia’s imports and 30% of its exports have moved through the port. In 2014, during their first budget, the … Continue Reading

US EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grants for Voluntary Action a Striking Contrast to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

US EPA announced recently that it had awarded twenty-eight Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants totaling more than $12.5 million. Portions of this federal funding will provide financial assistance to owners of farmland who voluntarily act to reduce nutrient runoff from their land. The provision of federal funding to address issues in the Great Lakes … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Rules Against the Corps and in Favor of Landowners With Respect to the Reviewability of Jurisdictional Determinations, Reserving for Another Day the Full Scope of Finality under the Administrative Procedure Act

In one of the most closely watched environmental and administrative law cases this term, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the government on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, affirming the Eighth Circuit’s decision allowing federal courts to review the US Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdictional determinations. Jurisdictional determinations are decisions wherein the Corps determines whether wetlands or dry … Continue Reading
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