Environmental Law Post

Environmental Law Post

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Flint Water Crisis Produces Criminal Charges Against State and Local Officials

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Just three months after Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced his intent to investigate the circumstances surrounding Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, the state filed criminal charges on Wednesday against two state environmental quality officials and a city utilities administrator for their apparent roles in the crisis. Specifically, the state claims the workers, among other things,… Continue Reading

Groundwater in New York: A Threatened Resource?

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New York State residents have long enjoyed high quality, affordable potable water; the result of the State’s protected source waters and reservoirs, and robust testing and filtration programs. In fact, most New Yorkers have taken the quality of their potable water for granted. But in recent weeks two upstate New York towns – Hoosick Falls… Continue Reading

SDNY Decision Penalizes Parties Who Voluntarily Clean Up Sites under New York’s Brownfield Clean Up Program

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The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, was enacted by Congress to promote the expeditious cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous substances. Through CERCLA, Congress attempted to achieve this goal by, among other things, providing funding to federal agencies, primarily EPA, to clean up certain contaminated sites and authorizing the… Continue Reading

Clean Up a Property? The SOL for your CERCLA contribution action may begin to run a lot earlier than you thought.

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The statute of limitations (“SOL”) for seeking contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) is three years from the date of “entry of the judicially approved settlement.” But what happens if that judicially approved settlement was not based on CERCLA, and did not resolve CERCLA claims? According to a recent federal… Continue Reading

OSHA Considers Changes to Work Place Exposure Limits

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For once, business and labor seem to agree: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) standards for workplace exposure to chemical hazards are badly outdated and in need of revision.  In response to these concerns, last week OSHA issued a Request for Information seeking stakeholder input into how these standards, known as permissible exposure levels… Continue Reading

NYSDEC Announces Streamlined Procedures for Environmental Easements

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On February 20, 2014, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) announced streamlined procedures for environmental easements.  There has been a significant push from the regulated community for process reform given the resources and length of time that have been required to get necessary easements in place. Historically NYSDEC’s requirements for an environmental… Continue Reading

Carbon Capture and Recycling Is Viable, Says EPA, to An Industry In Decline

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On Wednesday, EPA published its proposed New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) for greenhouse gas emissions in the Federal Register. In its proposed regulations, EPA expresses its determination, despite industry and internal Scientific Advisory Board evidence to the contrary, that Carbon Capture and Recycling (“CCR”) is a viable technology. This is a huge boon for CCR… Continue Reading

Appeals Court Dismisses Legal Challenge to New York RGGI Program

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This week, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department (“Third Department” or “Court”), issued a memorandum decision in the case of Thrun v. Cuomo, dismissing a legal challenge to New York’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”).  The RGGI program is a cooperative effort of nine northeast states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine,… Continue Reading

EPA’s Future Enforcement Strategy: More Citizen Suits?

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In an intriguing post on Law & The Environment, Seth Jaffe notes that, in part because of the ongoing sequester and budgetary concerns, EPA’s future enforcement efforts may rely more heavily on citizen groups. Quoting Cynthia Giles,  the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, as saying that “we have far too… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear GHG Emissions Sequel to Mass v. EPA

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Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to six petitions brought by state and industry groups challenging the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations for stationary sources. The petitions are seen by many as a sequel to Massachusetts  v. EPA, a 2007 Supreme Court decision directing EPA to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions endangered public health or welfare… Continue Reading

$5 Billion Environmental Bond Act Introduced in New York State Assembly

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We must invest in New York State’s environmental infrastructure, says Republican State Senator Mark Grisanti and Democratic Assembly Member Robert Sweeny, both Chairs of Environmental Conservation Committees in the State Legislature.   Last week, Grisanti and Sweeny introduced legislation to create a $5 billion environmental bond to finance efforts to address New York State’s “crumbling infrastructure… Continue Reading

The EPA’s Updated RE-Powering Mapper

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As part of its RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative (“RE-Powering Initiative”), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has released an updated RE-Powering Mapper (“Mapper”) tool to assist with redevelopment of contaminated sites with renewable energy. EPA’s RE-Powering Initiative promotes the reuse of potentially contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites for renewable energy through a combination… Continue Reading

Asbestos/Vermiculite Guidance

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The New York State Department of Health (“DOH”) released a new guidance document to clarify questions and concerns about asbestos in vermiculate-containing materials (July 9, 2013 Guidance Letter”).  Previously, the DOH issued a list of FAQs concerning fiber analysis and asbestos-containing materials (“ACM”); FAQ #10, which discussed vermiculite-containing materials, was subsequently updated to address, among… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Affords Landowners Protection From “The Dangers of Governmental Coercion” In Land-Use Permitting Decision

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Last month, the Supreme Court completed its trifecta of Fifth Amendment land-use permitting decisions by issuing its opinion in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt. Dist., a decision resting firmly on the backs of the court’s earlier Nollan v California Coastal Comm’n, 438 U.S. 825 and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374,… Continue Reading

Regulation of Biogenic GHG Emissions, From Manure Management And Ethanol Sources, Cannot Be Delayed, Says D.C. Circuit

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In 2007, the United States Supreme Court directed EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”) as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.   Since that time, EPA has published an Endangerment Finding and issued a series of GHG-related rules and regulations.  Under the Tailpipe Rule, for example, EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration… Continue Reading