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Louise Dyble is an associate in the Real Estate, Energy, Land Use & Environmental Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, California is facing a jaw-dropping 3.5 million unit housing deficient for the current population. This despite several legislative sessions enacting a large number of bills aimed at boosting housing production. 2023 was no different. During its first year of the current 2-year legislative cycle, Governor Newsom signed an unprecedented 56 housing bills into law, reflecting the California Legislature’s continued effort to respond to the housing crisis, and the multi-dimensional approach to developing, retaining, and permitting housing options for Californians. In sum, the housing bills intend to incentivize and reduce barriers to housing production, especially “affordable” or below-market rate housing by addressing previously-identified hurdles in the market. To do so, some bills include further expansion of State Density Bonus Law, including Senate Bill (SB) 423’s extension of the sunset date in 2017’s SB 35. The package also includes bills aimed to keep tenants in their existing homes and reflects the state’s desire to limit local governments’ ability to deny housing projects.Continue Reading California Continues Trend of Pushing Housing Legislation to Address Ongoing Housing Shortage

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday published a final rule defining “Waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, which determines the extent of federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. 88 Fed. Reg. 3004-3144 (Jan. 18, 2023). The new rule largely reinstates the longstanding definition of WOTUS first adopted in 1986, as modified by the Supreme Court’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States,547 U.S. 715 (2006). But the final rule comes as the Supreme Court again considers the proper scope of WOTUS in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, which will likely determine the viability of the new definition.Continue Reading Turbulence Ahead for the Clean Water Act: Agencies Redefine “Waters of the United States” as SCOTUS Prepares to Rule in Sackett v. EPA

After unexpected controversy earlier in the year, on December 15, 2022 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Final Rule unambiguously recognizing the ASTM International Standard E1527-21 for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), with an effective date of February 13, 2023.[1] EPA’s express endorsement of the standard as meeting the requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) Rule[2] is essential to ensuring that the Phase I ESA fulfills its fundamental purpose: protection for prospective purchasers (and lessees) of property from liability for pre-existing contamination by petroleum products or hazardous substances regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Cleanup Liability Act (CERCLA).[3]Continue Reading EPA Endorses New Standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took an important step toward regulating PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) on September 6, 2022 when it published a Notice of Federal Rulemaking to begin the process of listing two PFAS as hazardous substances under Section 102(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as the “Superfund” law). Specifically, perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), both of which have been identified as health hazards since 2016, are being reviewed. Comments on the proposal are due by October 6, 2022. Continue Reading PFAS As Hazardous Substances: Top 5 Implications For Businesses

The group of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are high on the federal regulatory agenda for 2022, as implementation of EPA’s “PFAS Strategic Roadmap” proceeds. One potential consequence will be new additions to California’s “Prop 65 List” of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. Already, two PFAS substances are subject to Prop 65 warning and labeling requirements (PFOA and PFOS), with a third (PFNA) subject to enforcement starting in 2023. New federal Health Advisory Levels (HALs) announced on June 15, 2022 may provide the basis to add another two PFAS to the list (PFBS and GenX).Continue Reading PFAS Regulations Could Open Floodgates to Prop 65 Enforcement – Assess & Manage Your Exposure Now

The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on August 30 vacated the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) that redefined “waters of the United States” for purposes of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, effectively reinstating the definition in effect prior to 2015.  Under that prior definition, many ephemeral streams and isolated wetlands that were not subject to federal jurisdiction under the NWPR will again be subject to case-by-case determinations of their status.  The case, Pasqua Yaqui Tribe v. EPA, CV-20-00266-TUC-RM (D. Ariz.), is one of several challenging the NWPR, and the outcome leaves unanswered questions about the scope of the court’s ruling and the potential for inconsistent regulations across the nation.
Continue Reading Uncertainty Over ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Definition Continues, as Federal Court in Arizona Vacates 2020 Rule

The decades-long battle over organic certification of hydroponically grown foods is poised for resolution, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals set to decide an appeal by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) in a case that seeks to block certification of foods not grown in soil.  On May 19, 2021, CFS filed an appeal asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse a district court decision upholding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s determination that hydroponically grown foods are eligible for certification under the National Organic Program (NOP).  The outcome of the appeal could have significant implications both for hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables and for other soil-less crops, including mushrooms and sprouts.
Continue Reading Organics Advocates Dig In With Ninth Circuit Appeal Challenging Certification for Hydroponics