SCOTUS to Resolve Circuit Split Regarding CERCLA Liability

On January 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) granted the Government of Guam’s petition for a writ of certiorari in a Superfund cost recovery case in which Guam faces a $160 million cleanup bill for a landfill leaking toxic waste at a site that the U.S. Navy created in the 1940s. The case, Government of Guam v. United States, Docket No. 20-382, presents two longstanding circuit splits before SCOTUS, which address CERCLA’s settlement provisions and their impact on a settling …

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Ethylene Oxide: The Coming Storm?

Ethylene oxide is a gas commonly used to make other chemicals utilized in a variety of consumer and industrial goods, including fabric, detergents, medicines, and adhesives. It’s even used to sterilize medical devices and spices and to kill microorganisms in grains. But ethylene oxide is acknowledged as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing compound or substance) in high-level concentrations and extended periods of exposure. Ethylene oxide has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer, among many other cancers and physical ailments.

The …

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EPA Finalizes Cost-Benefit Rule for Clean Air Act Rulemaking

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Clean Air Act (CAA) cost-benefit rule, which it proposed in June 2018 and held a public hearing on in July 2020. A procedural rule, it is meant to “improve the rulemaking process under the Clean Air Act by establishing requirements to ensure consistent, high-quality analyses of benefits and costs are provided to the public for significant rules,” according to the EPA’s press release. The final rule codifies “best practices” for benefit-cost analyses (BCA) in CAA rulemaking. …

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wetlands; Florida; Everglades

Does Florida’s Plan to Take Over the Federal Wetlands Permitting Process Hold Water?

On December 17, 2020, two years after the Florida legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill serving as an initial step to promote the transfer of permitting authority from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the state of Florida, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the Sunshine State’s request and approved a plan transferring federal authority to the state to issue permits for projects affecting the state’s wetlands. Florida will be only the third state in the United States to be granted such broad permitting …

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Happy Holidays!

We wanted to take some time to wish all of our subscribers and their families a happy holiday season and all the best in the new year. 2020 has been a busy, active year in the world of environmental law and we appreciate you dropping by our site on a regular basis for emerging issues and up-to-date information. Environmental Law Monitor will return next week with new posts. Once again, happy holidays!…

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Annual Judicial Hellholes Report Demonstrates Continuing Impact on Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation

The recently released American Tort Reform Foundation 2020-21 Judicial Hellholes Report highlights nine U.S. jurisdictions where expansive civil litigation continued notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to flourish. In most of these jurisdictions, mass toxic tort and environmental litigation has been prevalent.

Topping this year’s list is the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, followed by New York City and California. South Carolina, Louisiana, and Georgia round out the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions. St. Louis, Missouri, perennial problem …

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NRD Alert: New Study Links 6PPD Tire Additive Transformation Product to the Death of Coho Salmon in the Puget Sound

On December 3, 2020, a study authored by a team of researchers from the University of Washington was published in the journal Science, linking a transformation product from a common tire additive to the death of Coho salmon in the Puget Sound. Researchers had observed acute mortality in Coho salmon in the area for decades, and while the mortality had been previously linked to storm water, and then later to tires generally, the exact causal toxicant was unknown until now.

6PPD, one of several …

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EPA Final Rulemaking Will Not Require Additional Financial Assurance Requirements for Cleanups at Industrial Sites

On November 25, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it finalized rulemaking on financial assurance requirements for the Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution; Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing; and Chemical Manufacturing industries. The EPA determined the financial risks from facilities in these industries are addressed by existing state and federal regulations and modern industry practices, which mitigate risks inherent in these industries and cover the costs of cleaning up hazardous substance releases.

The final rulemaking relates to section 108(b) of the Comprehensive …

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NDMA―Hiding in Plain Sight

Last month, extended release (ER) Metformin―an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels―joined a small-but-expanding list of prescription drugs, including Valsartan (for blood pressure) and Zantac (for heartburn), that were recalled by manufacturers because it may contain amounts of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) above the acceptable intake limit.

NDMA is a semi-volatile, odorless yellow oil that can form naturally or unintentionally through industrial processes, and is also found naturally at low levels in many foods, such as roasted meats, cheese, and beer, because of cooking …

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U.S. EPA’s Supplemental Analysis of 1,4-Dioxane Finds No Unreasonable Consumer Risks for Six Separate Categories of Potential Exposure

On November 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a supplemental analysis to the draft risk evaluation of 1,4-dioxane under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The supplemental analysis was developed in response to public and peer review comments to the draft risk evaluation, which our blog previously reported on here.

The EPA’s risk evaluation states that 1,4-dioxane is a “likely human carcinogen” that is “highly mobile” and “does not readily biodegrade in the environment.” However, the draft risk evaluation notes “(n)o unreasonable …

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