Superfund Alert: The Latest Proposed Changes to CERCLA

On February 12, 2018, President Trump’s Administration published its Infrastructure Plan (Plan) aimed at fixing America’s infrastructure. Within the Plan are several proposed changes to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (also known as Superfund). The first proposed change is to expand funding eligibility for revitalization projects under CERCLA. Currently, CERCLA Sections 101(39)(B) and 101(41)(C) only authorize grants or revolving loans for brownfields — properties that contain hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants that complicate expansion, redevelopment,
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Power Struggle: A State’s Constitution Being Used to Oppose Hydraulic Fracturing

In June 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its decision in PA Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et. al, (PEDF) establishing a broad interpretation of PA’s Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA), which is found in the Commonwealth’s Constitution. Some folks in PA might not know this, but it’s one of only a few states in the nation to recognize having clean air and water as a basic civil right for its citizens. The case, brought by the Pennsylvania Environmental
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California Second Generation Climate Change Suits — Back to the Future with Federal Common Law?

An interesting battle currently is playing out in the California courts involving what can be considered a “second generation” of climate change suits that seek to hold producers of greenhouse gases responsible for the costs that government entities are forced to expend in adapting to climate change. In July 2017, three California government entities — Marin and San Mateo Counties, along with the City of Imperial Beach — filed suit in California Superior Court against some of the world’s largest
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Tijuana Blues: Mexican Wastewater Contaminates SoCal Coast, According to New Lawsuit

SoCal surfer dudes were in for a surprise when a serious funk rolled in with the tides in Imperial Beach and Chula Vista, California. A new lawsuit has been filed against the International Boundary & Water Commission – United States Section (IBWC or the Commission) and Veolia Water North America West for repeatedly failing to address “devastating pollution discharges” from the Tijuana River, which had been used as a dump for decades. In the last three years alone, severely polluted
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Strictly Business: Court Opens Door to PFOA Lawsuit for Purely Economic Damages

On February 20, 2018, a federal court in New York expanded the universe of plaintiffs who can sue for PFOA contamination in that state. The court ruled that plaintiffs could seek purely economic damages in negligence claims based on PFOA contamination, so long as the plaintiff’s business is located within the “zone of contamination.” As readers of this blog may be aware, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is a man-made chemical used, among other things, to make fabrics water- and stain-resistant. Originally
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Ultraviolet Reactor? The Newest Technology to Combat Emergence of the Unregulated Chemical 1,4-Dioxane

New problems often necessitate new solutions. In the world of toxic torts and environmental liability, advances in remediation techniques are constantly being developed to alleviate the sometimes unavoidable, questionable, and/or nascent effects of innovation, manufacturing, and commerce. One emerging contaminant causing a stir is 1,4-dioxane — a flammable liquid with a variety of industrial applications, such as the manufacture of adhesives, sealants, and other chemicals. It is used in paint strippers, dyes, greases, varnishes and waxes, and it can be
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Can You Dig Half a Hole? EPA Proposes Partial Excavation at St. Louis Radioactive Landfill

In the early 1970s, a contractor for a uranium producer illegally dumped about 8,700 tons of uranium-processing waste at the West Lake Landfill in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Originally placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1990, the landfill is regarded as one of the most complex Superfund sites because it sits next to another landfill where an underground fire smolders. The landfill was targeted for “immediate, intense action” by the EPA Superfund Task Force in December 2017. The
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The Push for Repeal of Environmental Regulations: One Year into the Trump Administration, Where Do We Stand?

As we move a little more than a year into the Trump Administration, it probably is time to take a look at where we are in regards to the administration’s publicly stated goal of repealing environmental regulations, many of which are related to climate change. In that context, the New York Times, National Geographic Society, Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, and Harvard University’s Environmental Law Program, are great sources, providing useful tracking information and updates regarding
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PFAS Update: DuPont and Chemours Hit With Another Suit in Ohio

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed suit against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DuPont) and its spinoff The Chemours Company (Chemours) for the release of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), also known as C8, into the Ohio River.  The current suit alleges that between 1951 and 2013 DuPont released toxic chemicals from its Washington Works plant, a 1,200-acre facility along the Ohio River, which forms the border between Ohio and West Virginia.  The lawsuit alleges that DuPont’s internal
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Can Groundwater Be Regulated Under the Clean Water Act?

Recently, we reported on the EPA’s decision to postpone the Clean Water Rule, a controversial rule pertaining to what bodies of water are protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). While the CWA states that it regulates discharge from point sources into surface waters, what constitutes “surface waters” has continued to be an open and debated question, one that appears to have created a Circuit Court split that the U.S. Supreme Court may need to resolve. Specifically, on February 1,
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