The much-anticipated final version of the comprehensive revisions to New York’s Solid Waste Management Program was released on September 20, 2017. Initially proposed in early 2016 after two rounds of public comments, multiple hearings, and a second round of revisions issued over the summer, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (“NYSDEC’s”) new rules are set to take effect on November 4, 2017. Besides expected changes for solid waste landfills and waste transporters, noteworthy changes include stricter Continue Reading A 360 for NY’s Part 360 Regulations: Overhauled Solid Waste Program to Take Effect November 2017

2016-04-22-Flint_waterJust 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, tampered with evidence contained in reports on lead levels in city water, conspired to tamper with monitoring reports and violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. The charges filed by the state are serious and carry stiff penalties, including up to two to five years in prison. Even so, Attorney General Schuette, in announcing the charges, maintained that “[t]hese charges are only the beginning” and “there will be more to come – that I [Schuette] can guarantee you.” Continue Reading Flint Water Crisis Produces Criminal Charges Against State and Local Officials

Monitoring_WellNew 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 and Petersburg – have detected elevated levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in their drinking water supplies, leading state and federal authorities to warn residents against using tap water for human consumption. Continue Reading Groundwater in New York: A Threatened Resource?

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 agency to sue responsible parties for reimbursement after the site is cleaned up. Private parties may clean up a site and seek reimbursement from other responsible parties under CERCLA as well. Continue Reading SDNY Decision Penalizes Parties Who Voluntarily Clean Up Sites under New York’s Brownfield Clean Up Program

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 court decision, so long as the settlement resolved environmental liability for costs related to a cleanup action – even if that cleanup action was taken pursuant to a state superfund law or another federal statute like the Clean Water Act – CERCLA’s three year statute of limitations for contribution will apply. Continue Reading Clean Up a Property? The SOL for your CERCLA contribution action may begin to run a lot earlier than you thought.

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 or PELs, may be best updated, and on other strategies to evaluate and address workplace exposure.  In correspondence to OSHA, public health agencies and the Chamber of Commerce all agree that OSHA’s updating of its PELs is long overdue and necessary. Continue Reading OSHA Considers Changes to Work Place Exposure Limits

National Ambient Air Quality Standards, or NAAQS, can be hard enough for states to attain given the sources of air pollution within their own borders.  But add cross-boundary air pollution from upwind states to the mix, and downwind states in particular are left in a real bind: despite their best efforts, these states are unable to control the upwind sources of air pollution that can contribute significantly to their own NAAQS non-attainment. Continue Reading SCOTUS Upholds EPA’s Good Neighbor Provision, To Relief of Downwind States

This week, EPA finalized its Tier 3 emission standards designed to reduce air pollution from passenger cars and trucks. The rule establishes new vehicle emissions standards and reduces the sulfur content of gasoline by two-thirds, with an implementation date of 2017. According to EPA, the new standards will help to reduce tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles. The gasoline sulfur standard in particular will make emission control systems more effective for both existing and new vehicles, and will enable manufacturers to meet the more stringent vehicle emissions standards, since removing sulfur allows the vehicle’s catalyst to work more efficiently. The EPA says that the more stringent tailpipe emission standards and reduced sulfur Continue Reading EPA Finalizes Emissions Standards for Vehicles and Fuel

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. Continue Reading NYSDEC Announces Streamlined Procedures for Environmental Easements

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 technology, as until now the efficacy of the R – recycling – had been the subject of intense debate. While Carbon Capture and Sequestration is a generally accepted practice, the viability of recycling residual gas and using it as feedstock for other products had, until now, been in dispute. Continue Reading Carbon Capture and Recycling Is Viable, Says EPA, to An Industry In Decline