Second Circuit Holds Climate Change Litigation Belongs in Federal Court

On April 1, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit—in a unanimous decision—affirmed the dismissal of the City of New York’s climate change lawsuit filed against a number of global oil manufacturers that sought climate change-related infrastructure damages. The issue resolved by the federal appellate court was whether municipalities could seek to hold multinational companies liable for damages caused by global greenhouse emissions under state common law. Given the nature of the harm and the existence of a complex web of federal …

Continue Reading

The Battle for Biofuel Exemptions Heads to the Supreme Court

In a bid to curb the emission of greenhouse gasses and reduce American dependence on foreign oil sources, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS imposes Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) on transportation fuel producers in the U.S., requiring them to include a threshold amount—increasing annually—of renewable fuels such as those derived from corn, grain, or sugarcane.

Though hailed by environmental groups as a step in the right direction, the RFS has promulgated the acceleration of …

Continue Reading

Offshore Wind Alert: New York Bight—The Next Major Wind Farm?

On March 29, 2021, the Biden administration announced a plan to expand offshore wind power along the East Coast. One area that may be part of such expansion is the New York Bight, which is a geological area that describes a swath of shallow waters along the Atlantic coast, spanning from the Cape May Inlet in New Jersey to Montauk Point at the eastern tip of Long Island. It is also the area subject to a potential offshore wind zone that the administration hopes can produce 30,000 megawatts (30 gigawatts) of power from wind turbines by 2030. 

To “advance domestic energy production, generate revenue, and increase …

Continue Reading

Congress Expected to Pass Environmental Justice for All Act

On Thursday, March 18, 2021, Congressional members who drafted the Environmental Justice for All Act (EJAA) reintroduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, co-chair and co-founder of the Senate’s first environmental justice caucus, is co-sponsoring a parallel bill moving through the Senate.

Similar to environmental justice legislation recently passed on the state level in New Jersey (covered by ELM here), the EJAA is a part of a larger effort to prioritize environmental justice in federal policy. Although …

Continue Reading

Recent Publications on the Health Effects of Fracking Make Headlines

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, remains an ever-present topic on the national political stage when discussing climate change and energy sources. During the first week of March, two articles discussing the health effects of fracking in southwestern Pennsylvania were published, garnering significant media attention to the issue.

On March 1, 2021, Environmental Health News released the results of its two-year investigation into chemical exposures affecting residents of southwestern Pennsylvania, near fracking wells. In the summer of 2019, EHN collected air, water, and urine samples from five …

Continue Reading

White House Releases Interim Estimates on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

The newly re-established White House Interagency Working Group (IWG) on social cost of greenhouse gases (SC-GHG) recently released interim estimates for the social cost of carbon (S-CO2), social cost of nitrous oxide (S-N20), and social cost of methane (S-CH4), collectively referred to as the SC-GHG, in accordance with President Biden’s directives set forth in one of his initial executive orders issued at the start of the new presidential term.

The SC-GHG is used by federal agencies in the regulatory cost-benefit analysis to justify certain executive …

Continue Reading

Delaware River Basin Commission Issues Permanent Ban on Fracking

The door is now closed on conducting high volume hydraulic fracking in the Delaware River basin (DRB).

On February 25, 2021, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted to finalize the temporary fracking ban they instituted in 2010 due to concerns over potential water pollution, which resulted from fracking wastewater. The DRBC was created in 1961 by President Kennedy and the governors of the four states collectively representing the 24 counties that comprise the DRB.

Over the last decade, environmentalists have been advocating for this ban …

Continue Reading

Changes in EPA Audit Policy Q&A Promotes Voluntary Self-Disclosure

In early February, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding its audit policy program, which is officially called, “Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations” (Audit Policy). The purpose of the Audit Policy, originally effected in 1996, is to safeguard human health and the environment by, according to the EPA, “providing several major incentives for regulated entities to voluntarily discover and fix violations of federal environmental laws and regulations.” 

These major incentives are: 

  • Significant penalty reductions
  • No
Continue Reading

Illinois EPA Joins Growing List of States Issuing PFAS Health Advisories

Illinois has joined a growing list of states seeking to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and compounds. On January 28, 2021, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced four “health advisories” in accordance with the Illinois Part 620 groundwater regulations (35 Ill. Adm. Code Part 620). Specifically, the four PFAS compounds Illinois issued health advisories on are PFBS, PFHxS, PFHxA, and PFOA.

Pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Code, 35 Ill. Adm. Code 620.605, health advisories are issued when a chemical substance that is harmful to …

Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Kids Climate Suit—Headed to the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has declined to rehear the high-profile Juliana v. United States case, which has been followed by Environmental Law Monitor here, here, and here. Last January, the Ninth Circuit dismissed the case for lack of Article III standing, and last week, a little over a year after its decision ordering dismissal of the case, the court declined the plaintiffs’ motion for a rehearing.

The Juliana plaintiffs, a group of 21 then-minors, filed suit in …

Continue Reading