New York City Sues Big Oil Over Effects of Climate Change

Earlier this month, the New York City government (the City) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against five of the world’s largest publically traded oil companies. The complaint alleges that the defendants significantly contributed to climate-change through the sale of oil and gas products over the years, resulting in property damage and subsequently forcing the City to incur other costs associated with weather-related prevention efforts, now and in the future. Specifically,
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The Bar Lowered: Lower Causation Standard for Plaintiff Under California’s Polanco Redevelopment Act

The California Court of Appeals rang in the New Year for plaintiffs by handing owners, operators, transporters, and arrangers that work with hazardous materials an adverse decision on the issue of causation. In the City of Modesto v. The Dow Chemical Company (2018 WL 317043 (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 8, 2018), the court focused on the standard of causation that a plaintiff must meet to support a finding of liability under the Polanco Redevelopment Act (Polanco Act). The court lowered
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PFAS Update — Hudson Valley City Authorizes its City Council to Commence Suit Involving PFOS Contamination to Drinking Water Supply

The City of Newburgh, New York has had enough. After the city’s water supply was shut down following contamination by perfluorooctane sulfonate, a toxic chemical known as PFOS, residents have authorized its city council to commence a lawsuit against the alleged contaminator, a nearby Air National Guard Base. PFOS, and the related chemical PFOA (both of which are part of the class of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFASs) was first discovered in Newburgh’s water supply in mid-2016. Washington
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Shale Watch Alert — Delaware River Basin Commission Moves Toward Hydraulic Fracturing Ban

While the Trump administration has ushered in an era of deregulation on the environmental front, including proposals to repeal Obama-era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on government land, the Delaware River Basin Commission (the Commission) recently made headway in the other direction. On November 30, 2017, the Commission approved a resolution that could lead to a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed —a region that includes 24 counties in portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
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The PFOA/PFOS Conversation Moves from New Jersey to New York

In November, we reported on New Jersey’s adoption of the lowest Maximum Contaminant Limits (14 parts per trillion) for PFOAs (perfluorooctanoic acid) in the nation. And a few weeks ago, we reported on the New Jersey scientists that are urging the state to impose a strict limit of 13 ppt for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) as the level at which human health would be protected over a lifetime of exposure. Now we move to New York. In September 2017, New York
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MTBE Update — Maryland AG’s Office Commences MTBE Litigation Against 50 Oil Companies

Just last month, the Maryland Attorney General filed suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court against over 50 petroleum related companies to recover damages and address widespread contamination of Maryland’s waters with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). MTBE is a chemical compound that was used as a fuel additive in gasoline since the late 1970s to make the fuel burn more cleanly, reducing smog. In the 1990s, MTBE was used specifically to fulfill the oxygenate requirements set by Congress in the
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EPA Takes Baby-Step Toward Replacing Clean Power Plan

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency took the first miniscule step toward replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) when it announced that it will seek public input on “the proper and respective roles of the state and federal governments” in setting emissions limits on greenhouse gases. The CPP is a regulation set forth by the EPA under the Obama administration aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Among other things, the CPP sets a goal to reduce
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The Delaware River Basin Commission Moves Toward Fracking Ban

While the Trump administration has ushered in an era of deregulation on the environmental front, including proposals to repeal Obama era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on government land, the Delaware River Basin Commission (the DRBC) recently made headway in the other direction. On November 30, 2017, the DRBC approved a resolution that could lead to a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed, a region that includes 24 counties in portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and
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Paddling Upstream — Lawsuit Looking to Recognize the Rights of the Colorado River Dismissed

A novel approach to finding a plaintiff meets a quick end. In September 2017, an environmental group filed a lawsuit in Colorado federal court. That lawsuit sought to force the State of Colorado to “protect and defend” the Colorado River ecosystem. While that action itself is not original in any sense, the named plaintiff was. The suit claimed it was filed on behalf of “The Colorado River Ecosystem.” Undeterred by the fact that the Colorado River is not a person,
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The Social Cost of Carbon — A Crucially Important Number Few Have Heard of and its Potential Impact on Environmental Regulations

There is a number few have heard of underlying many environmental regulations that are directly related to climate change — the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). As noted in a recent article in The Economist, climate economists refer to the SCC as “the most important number you’ve never heard of.” Essentially, the SCC attempts to capture in a single number how much “damage” a one-ton release of CO2 today will have in the future, expressed in today’s dollars. Of course,
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