Hurricane Irma Presents Different Challenges than Hurricane Harvey in the Wake of Recovery

While the recovery efforts are still unfolding, scientists and environmental experts believe the environmental toll from Hurricane Irma in Florida may not be as harsh as the problems caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The two storms have resulted in hazards that are very different, leading to varied responses to the destruction left by both storms. Wind damage is the primary concern after Hurricane Irma, rather than the widespread flooding seen after Hurricane Harvey. In addition, the areas of Florida
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An Example of Hurricane Harvey’s Aftermath: Energy Company Significantly Underestimates Benzene Emission Levels After Leak

Last week, we wrote about Houston’s long road to recovery from Hurricane Harvey, including the aftermath of the toxic environmental mess that Harvey left. This week, we bring you just one of many examples of environmental headaches that continue to persist following the storm. According to self-reported emissions to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), refineries, petrochemical plants, and other industrial operations emitted some 2.6 million pounds of pollutants into the air during Harvey-related shutdowns and accidents in the
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Hurricane Harvey’s Devastation Will Be Felt Long After Water Recedes

Hurricane Harvey has decimated the great city of Houston, displacing residents from their homes — and in many cases — destroying homes, investments, and in some scenarios, taking the life of a loved one. It will take billions of dollars to repair Harvey’s destruction, and many people will never replace what the hurricane took. Even with that, the event has more bad news. Not only did Harvey destroy property, and in some instances take human life, it also has created
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Taking a “Hard Look”

In August 2017, decades long dispute involving the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Province of Manitoba, North Dakota, and Missouri, arising from a proposed water reclamation project was resolved in Government of the Province of Manitoba, et al. v. Zinke, et al., 2017 WL 3437658 (D.D. C. August 10, 2017). In 1987, the Bureau of Reclamation created the Northwest Area Water Supply Project (NAWS or Project) to respond to water problems in Northcentral and North Western North Dakota. The
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Bankruptcy Court Approves $43 Million Coal Cleanup Deal

On Tuesday, September 5, 2017, a bankruptcy court in Missouri approved a $43 million settlement between the reorganized Peabody Energy Corp., which is a coal producer, and the federal government. The settlement related to CERCLA liability incurred by one of Peabody’s affiliate companies, Gold Fields Mining LLC. Peabody acquired responsibility for Gold Fields’ pollution liability when it gained control of the company in the 1990s.  The federal government had filed proofs of claim in Peabody’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding on
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Woe is Me: EPA Seeks Help Defining WOTUS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) are seeking recommendations from stakeholders and the public in their effort to revise the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The definition and interpretation of WOTUS is critical as it defines the federal government’s regulatory reach (and limits) when it comes to the country’s waterways. On February 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that directed EPA to
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Grapes of Wrath: California State Agency Acts to Further Restrict Use of Chlorpyrifos

On August 18, 2017, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) released an updated draft risk assessment for comments by the public on the popular agricultural pesticide chlorpyrifos. Farmers use chlorpyrifos to kill pests that attack a wide variety of crops including grapes, walnuts, oranges, almonds and cotton grown in California. In 2015, California farmers used more than 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos on more than 60 crops. About 5 million to 10 million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used annually on
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July 2017 Tied for Warmest Month on Record; Gives Further Support to Recently Released Climate Change Special Report

Following the release by the New York Times of a draft copy of a Climate Change Special Report (CSSR) prepared to provide the scientific basis of the upcoming 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment—as if perfectly planned for maximum effect, according to an analysis released on August 15 by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)— July 2017 was the warmest July on record (since 1880), and statistically tied with the warmest month on record of August 2016.  (GISTEMP Team, 2017: GISS
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Court Rejects the EPA’s Efforts to Stay the Methane Gas Rule

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency implemented a rule for fugitive methane gas and other greenhouse gasses to reduce pollution. Methane gas is considered a greenhouse gas because in the air, unused methane absorbs the heat from the sun and poses a global warming potential that is about 21 times greater than carbon dioxide. The Methane Gas Rule imposed “new source performance standards” on the oil and gas industry. The new performance standards, which were effective as of August 2, 2016, required the oil and gas industry to conduct an initial monitoring survey and identify and repair any methane leaks by June 3, 2017. Just
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Massachusetts Steps Up its Game on Climate Regulation

Last Friday, August 11, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection published expansive new regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The regulations will affect a broad range of stakeholders within the state, including new requirements for power generators, electric utilities, natural gas distributors, government, and the transportation sector. The new regulations are the latest step in an arduous process the state has undertaken to combat climate change. In 2008, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Global Warming
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