Category Archives: Environmental

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Ninth Circuit Determines That George Costanza Was Right!—In Limited Circumstances, Whales And Seals Are Fish (Not Mammals)

Makah Indian Tribe, et al. v. Quileute Indian Tribe et al., 813 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2017). Defying the universal notion that whales and seals are, in fact, mammals, the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed in part, and reversed in part, the Western District Court of Washington’s judgment determining that such species qualify as fish in … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Finds District Court Sharply Deviated from Existing Authority on CERCLA Cleanup Costs Between Military Contractor and U.S. Government When it Allocated 100 Percent of Liability to Military Contractor

TDY Holdings v. United States, et al., 872 F.3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2017). TDY brought suit for contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against the U.S. government relating to environmental contamination at TDY’s manufacturing plant. The district court granted judgment in favor of the government after a 12-day bench trial … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds National Park Service Has the Authority to Regulate Navigable Waters in Alaska’s National Parks and Prohibit the Use of Hovercraft (Again)

Sturgeon v. Frost, et al., 872 F.3d 927 (9th Cir. 2017). In September 2011, moose hunter John Sturgeon brought an action against the National Park Service (“Park Service”), alleging it inappropriately banned him from using a hovercraft to hunt moose on the Nation River in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (“National Preserve”). Id. at 929. … Continue Reading

Under the Radar Changes to Proposition 65 – OEHHA Issues New “Guidance” For Web Purchases (Is it an Illegal “Underground Regulation”?)

If your products are sold online or you operate a website with sales to consumers in California, these changes will impact whether you can obtain “safe harbor” protection under Prop 65. Over a year after adopting new regulations—which were crafted through an exhaustive 3 year rulemaking process of public workshops, public comments, and revisions to … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Holds Bureau of Land Management Improperly Relied On Unsupported and Irrational Assumption in Analyzing Environmental Impacts of Coal Mining Leases

WildEarth Guardians v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., 870 F.3d 1222 (10th Cir. 2017). WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) brought a claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (the “Act”) against the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM), challenging the BLM’s decision to grant four coal leases in Wyoming’s Powder River … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Takes Expansive View of the Definition of the Term “Mining,” Holding Wind Farm Project Needs Permit Prior to Commencement of Excavation in Tribal Mineral Estate

United States of America v. Osage Wind, LLC et al., 871 F.3d 1078 2017 WL 4109940 (10th Cir. Sept. 18, 2017). Causing heartburn for project applicants developing on tribal land, the Tenth Circuit reversed the District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma’s grant of summary judgment and determined that the defendants’ large-scale excavation project, involving … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Weighs In On Circuit Split Regarding CERCLA Contribution Claims After Settlement and The Statute of Limitation

Asarco, LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, 866 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2017). In a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) contribution case, the Ninth Circuit addressed three issues of first impression for the circuit related to the ability to pursue contribution after settlement and the application of the statute of limitation. Specifically, the … Continue Reading

WARNING: Prop 65 Has Changed – If Your Product Is Sold In California Or You Do Business In California, Pay Attention

What is Prop 65? Prop 65 is a California law that requires California consumers receive warnings regarding the presence of chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. The law is highly technical, constantly evolving and actively enforced by the government and private enforcers.… Continue Reading

Prop 65 Victory For Defendants – Defendants Are Entitled To Have Their Cases Heard In the County Where the Claim Arose

Summary Prop 65 Plaintiffs routinely file most Prop 65 cases in Alameda County, presumably because they believe it is a plaintiff-friendly forum. However, the California Court of Appeal recently issued a victory for Prop 65 defendants, finding that Prop 65 matters may be transferred to the venue where the cause arose. Dow Agrosciences LLC v. … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Vacates Condition Registration for Nanosilver-containing Pesticide Due to Lack of Evidence that its Use is in The Public Interest

Natural Resources Defense Council v. E.P.A., __ F.3d ___, 2017 WL 2324714 (9th Cir. May 30, 2017). The Ninth Circuit Court has vacated the conditional registration of the pesticide NSPWL30SS (“NSPW”)—an antimicrobial materials preservative that uses nanosilver as its active ingredient—on the grounds that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) failed to provide substantial evidence that … Continue Reading

Oklahoma Court Dismisses Fracking Earthquake Case Due to Court’s Lack of Scientific Expertise

Sierra Club v. Chesapeake Operating LLC et al., __ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2017 WL 1287546 (W.D. Okla. 2017). The Sierra Club filed a citizen suit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) against Chesapeake Operating LLC, Devon Energy Production Co. LP, Sandridge Exploration and Production LLC, and New Dominion LLC (collectively, “defendants”), alleging … Continue Reading

California Court Of Appeal Rejects Citizens Group Nuisance Case Regarding Sea Lion Stench

Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement v. City of San Diego, 8 Cal. App. 5th 350 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017). The Fourth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal concluded that the City of San Diego could not be held liable for public nuisance associated with the stench created by sea lions because the City … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Finds CERCLA Contribution Claim Not Barred by Bankruptcy Approval of a Settlement Estimating Liability for the Site

Asarco LLC v. Noranda Mining, Inc., 844 F.3d 1201 (10th Cir. 2017). In a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) contribution action, the Tenth Circuit ruled that a mining company, whose liability for a contaminated site had been resolved in a settlement agreement approved by the bankruptcy court, could still seek contribution against … Continue Reading

Environmental Litigation and Toxic Torts Update – Mountain/West Coast Case Law Highlights

NINTH CIRCUIT ISSUES MAJOR CERCLA DECISION FINDING THAT ARRANGER LIABILITY CANNOT BE BASED ON CONTAMINATION DEPOSITED ON A SITE BY THE WIND Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, No. 15-35228, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13662 (9th Cir. July 27, 2016). The Ninth Circuit issued an important Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) decision that will likely have broad impact in limiting the scope of … Continue Reading

President Obama Signs Major Overhaul of TSCA Changing the Way The EPA Regulates Toxic Substances In Commerce

President Obama just signed a bill amending the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”), changing the way the EPA regulates chemicals. For the last 25 years, the EPA has regarded TSCA’s principal control provision as unworkable and refused to rely on it after an adverse ruling in response to the EPA’s effort to regulate asbestos. The … Continue Reading

New LA Ordinances “Clean Up, Green Up” Industry in Residential “Toxic Hotspot” Neighborhoods

On June 4, 2016, two new Los Angeles ordinances will go into effect under the Clean Up, Green Up (CUGU) initiative.  The initiative aims to improve air quality and residential quality of life in areas with high concentrations of industrial uses.  The new laws will impose additional citywide code requirements, and create new development standards … Continue Reading

A Proposition 65 Violation May Be Lurking in Your Cash Register Receipt

Many consumer-facing businesses have learned to identify high-risk Prop 65 targets:  soft, flexible plastics; faux and colored leathers; and any kind of brass or metal that may contain lead or other heavy metals.  But businesses need to take action to avoid Prop 65 liability based on a new culprit: bisphenol-A (BPA) that may be lurking … Continue Reading

Only When a Permit is Required: The Supreme Court Caps the EPA’s Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Stationary Sources

Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA et al. 573 U.S. ____ (2014) On June 23, 2014, the United States Supreme Court held that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act when it attempted to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources not already subject to a permit controlling emissions of … Continue Reading

California Passes Landmark Green Chemical Laws

On August 28, 2013 the California Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) approved California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (“DTSC”) Safer Products Regulations. These regulations will go into effect on October 1, 2013. These important regulations, also referred to as “Green Chemical” regulations, establish a process to identify and prioritize consumer products containing chemicals of concern, … Continue Reading

Governor Brown Signs SB 4 Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing Well Stimulation Treatments

Hydraulic fracturing continues to increase, but regulations have lagged behind the practice. Hydraulic fracturing (sometimes called well stimulation treatment) is used as means to extract and explore underground oil and gas. SB 4 is an attempt by California legislature to regulate and oversee the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and other well stimulation treatments. … Continue Reading

EU Carbon Trading System Wins Parliament’s Support

Today the European Parliament approved a proposal to delay the issue of 900 million emissions allowances (each representing the right to emit one metric ton of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas equivalent, or CO2e). The purpose of the measure is to ease supply pressure in the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS), which has been trading CO2e allowances … Continue Reading

Recent Federal and International Developments Good for California Cap and Trade

Plans announced by the White House today (June 25) show a credible pathway to meet targets pledged by the President pursuant to the Copenhagen Accord (reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020). Relatedly, last month the Obama administration increased the assumed social cost of greenhouse gas emissions used for cost-benefit analysis … Continue Reading

Can California Cap and Trade if Brussels Stumbles?

By Jeffrey Rector  Last week, the European Parliament rejected a proposal to reduce the quantity of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions allowances in order to fix a supply-demand imbalance in the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Some view this as the beginning of the end of the European Union’s ten-year carbon cap-and-trade experiment. A … Continue Reading
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