Japanese Knotweed, Hybrids and UK Case Law – a growing concern?

Japanese KnotweedThis blog examines some of the latest developments in relation to the ongoing concerns over Japanese Knotweed and its hybrid forms.

Continue Reading

It Has Been A Busy Year For the TSCA Risk Assessment Process

As 2019 moves into its closing months, US EPA activity under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) remains front and center.  As part of US EPA’s three-step process of prioritization, risk evaluation and risk management for existing chemicals, as we previously reported, EPA began in 2016 by identifying the first ten chemicals for  risk evaluation under TSCA, which set forth a three-year deadline for completing the evaluations that is supposed to come to a close this December under the statute.  TSCA gives US EPA the ability to extend the deadline for finishing the risk evaluations by up to six months if needed, and the Agency has indicated that it likely will do so.

Continue Reading

Report Recommends Changes to US EPA’s General Permit for Industrial Stormwater Discharges Ahead of Reissuance

Stormwater permitting requirements for many industrial facilities are set forth in US EPA’s Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (MSGP) or state permits based on the MSGP.  US EPA last issued the permit in 2015, which expires on June 4, 2020.  While the current Administration does not appear to be predisposed to the implementation of more onerous environmental permitting requirements, an EPA-funded report has recommended transformative changes to the MSGP.  The Agency’s decision whether to incorporate those recommendations into the reissuance of the MSGP will determine whether industrial facilities will need to implement additional stormwater monitoring and control measures in the coming years. Continue Reading

August Update: Key Developments in UK and EU Environment, Safety and Health Law, Procedure and Policy

Electronic NewsWe are pleased to share with you the latest edition of “frESH Law Horizons – Key Developments in UK & EU Environment, Safety and Health Law, Procedure and Policy”.  In our August edition, we summarise 29 developments in the environmental, safety and health sector.  Some of the top stories this month include:

  • Court of Appeal dismisses appeal by Thames Water against £2 million fine imposed by the Crown Court
  • Construction company fined £1 million and employee, a site supervisor, given suspended custodial sentence following death
  • Government seek comments on draft Statutory Guidance for proposed implementation of Offensive Weapons Act 2019, including provisions on remote (online) sales of knives and other bladed articles and new offence for sale of corrosive product to underage person
  • Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Publishes Corporate Co-Operation Guidance
  • Almost 60 chemical manufacturers commit to re-evaluating the safety data in their reach registration dossiers
  • Council has approved the purchase and subsequent demolition of houses in an air pollution hot-spot
  • Boris Johnson has said that the UK’s environmental standards could ‘diverge’ from EU standards after Brexit
  • The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published advice on carbon pricing, including views on the establishment of a UK emissions trading scheme
  • ECHA launches public consultation on authorisation of chromium trioxide

For more detailed information on these developments, as well as access to the remaining summaries, make sure you download a copy from our website.  You can also subscribe to ensure you receive our most recent edition every month.

US EPA Proposes Rule Narrowing States’ Ability to Block Pipeline Projects

Welding on Gas PipelineOn August 7, 2019, US EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the Agency’s newest proposal to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) to streamline permitting of energy projects. Specifically, the proposed rule would amend the regulations concerning Section 401 of the CWA. It represents US EPA’s first comprehensive effort to promulgate federal rules governing the implementation of Section 401 of the CWA.

The proposed rule is in response to President Trump’s April 2019 Executive Order 13868 (see our post here), which directs US EPA to revise guidance on the CWA Section 401 certification process and propose new rules to implement CWA Section 401 by August 8, 2019. When announcing the proposed rule, Administrator Wheeler stated: “[T]he United States has become the number one oil and gas energy producer in the world, while at the same time continuing to improve our air quality.” He then noted, “Our proposal is intended to help ensure that states adhere to the statutory language and intent of Clean Water Act. When implemented, this proposal will streamline the process for constructing new energy infrastructure projects that are good for American families, American workers, and the American economy.”

Continue Reading

US EPA Proposes to Roll Back Requirements to Control Oil & Gas Industry Methane Emissions

OilwellToday, US EPA proposed a rule to roll back the Obama Administration’s rule to control methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are equivalent to the emissions of one-quarter of all cars in the US, according to US EPA data. Methane emissions are also known to be 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change. Overall, methane is responsible for 10 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions. US EPA has decided to lift the rules that would have controlled for methane emissions, which would have required monitoring, limiting leaks and regular leak inspections for new wells, storage tanks, pipelines and other transmission infrastructure.

The oil and gas industry is reportedly split on the decision. Some argue that “a lack of government backed minimum requirements to curb emissions could undermine the argument that natural gas is a cleaner fuel.” Continue Reading

Is the U.S. Endangered Species Act Itself Now Threatened or Endangered?

Red Wolf at RestOn August 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) unveiled three final rulemakings that will have a significant impact on the future implementation of certain portions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to DOI, the new regulations are “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the [ESA] into the 21st century.” On the other hand, numerous environmental advocacy groups voiced swift and strong opposition to what they commonly see as “dramatic rollbacks” that will “weaken the critical and popular environmental law.” And, it appears that the final rules still face an uphill climb as Democrats in Congress, such as U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vowed to “block this dangerous rollback” and “consider stopping these regulations by any means.” Continue Reading

Why Are We Still Talking About California Prop 65?

For readers who have been following us, you have likely seen our posts tracking California’s consumer right to know law, Prop 65, along with its new amendments and significant litigation. You may think, what more is there to write about a law that is only effective in one state?

As it turns out, quite a bit, especially now that Prop 65’s influence seems to have spread to other states. We have written previously about Prop 65’s far-reaching impact on companies, nationwide and internationally, doing business in California. Now, New York has proposed and Washington State has passed laws similar to Prop 65. These other laws could also have far-reaching effects for companies.

Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Schedules Oral Argument Regarding Clean Water Act Liability for Indirect Groundwater Discharges

Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court scheduled oral argument for November 6th in its review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, et al. The case has significant implications for the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA), with the Ninth Circuit having ruled that the eventual migration of pollutants from permitted underground injection wells through groundwater into surface waters violates the CWA:

We hold the County liable under the CWA because (1) the County discharged pollutants from a point source, (2) the pollutants are fairly traceable from the point source to a navigable water such that the discharge is the functional equivalent of a discharge into the navigable water, and (3) the pollutant levels reaching navigable water are more than de minimis.

886 F.3d 737, 749 (9th Cir. 2018).

Continue Reading

July Update: Key Developments in UK and EU Environment, Safety and Health Law, Procedure and Policy

Electronic NewsWe are pleased to share with you the latest edition of “frESH Law Horizons – Key Developments in UK & EU Environment, Safety and Health Law, Procedure and Policy”.  In our July edition, we summarise 35 developments in the environmental, safety and health sector.  Some of the top stories this month include:

  • Rail company faces £1 million fine after the death of a passenger on the Gatwick Express
  • Government publishes its response to the final report on the Modern Slavery Act review
  • Environment Agency to use drones to tackle illegal water abstraction
  • Environmental Audit Committee launches an inquiry on electronic waste and the circular economy
  • Utility company faces fine of £700,000 for pollution offences
  • US lawmakers to propose plastics bill

For more detailed information on these developments, as well as access to the remaining summaries, make sure you download a copy from our website.  You can also subscribe to ensure you receive our most recent edition every month.

LexBlog