PFAS Alert: More Bipartisan Legislation Being Introduced

On March 28, 2019, U.S. Senators. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and U.S. Representatives. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) introduced bipartisan legislation to sample water for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The PFAS Detection Act of 2019 would authorize the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct a nationwide sampling to test surface and groundwater for PFAS pollution, with a special focus on water near sites already known or suspected to be contaminated. The PFAS Detection Act also appropriates $45 million to the USGS to conduct this nationwide sampling for PFAS in the environment. To carry
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Advanced Nuclear Power Legislation Introduced and Touted as Antidote to Climate Change

In late March, a group of fifteen bipartisan senators reintroduced the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) bill to the Senate. This legislation was originally introduced in September of 2018, but was not voted on before the Congressional session ended at the end of the year. It is being lauded as an important means for battling climate change and to support the promotion of non-fossil fuel based energy in the United States. Early agreement across party aisles is encouraging. As advanced,
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The Replacements: DC Circuit Partially Vacates EPA’s HFC Rule

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invalidated part of a 2016 EPA rule that made hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) unacceptable for various uses in aerosols, automobile air conditioners, commercial refrigerators, and foams. In the waning years of the Obama presidency, EPA made an effort to combat climate change by enacting two rules restricting the use of HFCs, which are greenhouse gases. EPA claimed it had authority to do so under Title VI of the Clean Air Act.
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Emerging Contaminants: Testing Finds 1,4-Dioxane Present in Dozens of Household Products

Testing conducted by the group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which is purportedly pushing for a New York state ban on 1,4-Dioxane in household products, has found the chemical at various levels in “65 of 80” commonly used (and commonly disposed of) high-end and less expensive personal care and detergent products. In conjunction with an uptick in 1,4-Dioxane litigation, these new studies likely provide lawyers, litigants, and other concerned parties a hint at what’s to come. As a refresher, 1,4-Dioxane
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Attention New York City Cooling Tower Owners and Operators: NYC Council Expands Cooling Tower Inspection Reporting Requirements

It has been three years since Legionnaires’ disease made national headlines following an outbreak surrounding the cooling tower of the Opera House Hotel in the South Bronx. Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by the waterborne pathogen known as Legionella. It is contracted when susceptible individuals inhale water droplets or mist containing elevated levels of legionella bacteria. New York City has as many as 1,200 towers with evaporative heat exchangers, usually installed on the top of a building as part of its
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Houston-Area Rocked by Second Chemical Fire in Last 20 Days

For the second time in three weeks, black smoke was seen emitting from a Houston-area chemical plant. This time, the fire was at the KMCO plant in Crosby, Texas. The explosion at the KMCO chemical plant happened when a transfer line ignited a tank full of isobutylene. Isobutylene is a highly flammable colorless gas. The fire also spread to a nearby storage building containing solid goods. KMCO is a chemical manufacturing and toll processing company. KMCO’s Crosby facility has batch
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Pennsylvania Appellate Court Grants Landowners New Path to Recover Natural Gas Royalties

In a case of first impression, a Pennsylvania Appellate Court has granted an interlocutory appeal permitting the state’s Attorney General to pursue restitution claims on behalf of landowners who claim that natural gas companies violated the terms of their subsurface mineral lease agreements by improperly withholding royalty payments. In Anadarko Petroleum Corp., et. al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Court recently ruled that the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office can bring royalty claims on behalf of landowners against natural gas
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Breaking: Jury Awards Plaintiff $80 Million in Second Glyphosate Verdict

In the second glyphosate personal injury case to go to a jury trial, a federal jury in the case of Hardeman v. Monsantomatter returned a unanimous verdict of $80 million for the plaintiff against the defendant. The verdict ended a two-part trial over the plaintiff’s allegations that his exposure to glyphosate over a period of approximately 25 years of spraying Roundup on his 56-acre property caused him to develop Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In the first phase, which ended last week, the jury
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Environmental Study of Glyphosate Raises Issues Beyond Personal Injury Litigation

Aside from toxic tort litigation pertaining to the use of glyphosate, a recent study has evaluated environmental issues pertaining to the world’s most widely used herbicide. The study, out of McGill University, evaluates whether glyphosate may contribute to environmental phosphorus levels. Phosphorus pollution in U.S. water bodies is a major concern of the EPA, which has stated that nutrient pollution (phosphorus and nitrogen) is one of the country’s most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problems. Phosphorus, although naturally existing, has
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WildEarth Guardians v. Zinke – How Shoud GHG Emissions be Estimated?

On March 19, 2019, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling blocking, at least temporarily, approved oil and gas drilling on approximately 300,000 acres in Wyoming. The case, WildEarth Guardians v. Zinke, et al., 16-1724 (D.C. Cir.), was brought by two advocacy groups, Wildlife Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility, which alleged that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated federal law by not sufficiently considering climate change when authorizing oil and gas leasing on federal land in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
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