Supreme Court Requires Specific Congressional Authorization For Regulations That Give Federal Agencies “Extravagant” Power Over The National Economy

As regular readers of this blog know, we have been keeping tabs on the Supreme Court’s review of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, a case addressing how broadly executive agencies can interpret the legislation authorizing their activities.  Today, the Supreme Court issued its opinion on the matter, holding that the “major questions” doctrine precluded the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to require energy producers to change the type of energy generation they use.

Under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, …

Continue Reading

Superfund: An Unsung Victim of COVID

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) — commonly known as “the Superfund” — was enacted in December 1980 in response to growing awareness of, and concern over, the catastrophic environmental impact of unregulated and largely unrestricted dumping of toxic waste into the ecosystems and communities around dump sites.

Executed by the Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund represented the first federally regulated attempt to address these environmental issues — principally through short-term removal actions, such as properly disposing of partially empty drums of toxic …

Continue Reading

School’s Out for Summer, but EPA’s Latest PFAS Drinking Water Health Advisory Order is No Vacation for the Regulated Industry or Litigants

If you drink water, pay a water bill, or watch the news, you’ve undoubtedly heard or seen (but were likely unable to pronounce) the acronyms for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), two of the most recognized compounds within the family of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Known as PFAS compounds, they were used pervasively in American manufacturing dating back to the 1940s and assumed the nomenclature “forever chemicals” because of their remarkable and arguably useful ability to not decompose. PFAS’ unique resistance to breaking …

Continue Reading

Chevron Deference on Life Support?

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 15 issued a unanimous reversal of a lower appellate court, and in which, ruling against the federal government, struck down a Department of Health and Human Services rule significantly reducing Medicare prescription reimbursements to hospitals traditionally serving low-income patients.

Although the 2018 rule did not, on its face, seem to have anything to do with environmental rules or regulations, environmental lawyers, activists, and probably the Environmental Protection Agency itself closely watched the progress of American Hospital Association v. Becerra

Continue Reading

New Report Offers Solutions for Low-Income Californians to Switch to EVs

The Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment (CLEE) at Berkeley Law last month­, in conjunction with the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA Law, ­issued Driving Equity, a new reportaimed at presenting important policy solutions to make California’s switch to electric vehicles more realistic for lower income citizens. Topping their list of priorities was offering more rebates and incentives for lower-income car owners, enhancing funding and groundwork for charging stations, and offering financial assistance to greater outreach for community-based …

Continue Reading

Microplastics Found for the First Time in Freshly Fallen Snow

In a study published last week, researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand identified microplastics in freshly fallen snow samples collected from 19 different sites across the Ross Island region of Antarctica. According to the authors, this finding, which is the first evidence of microplastics in Antarctic snow, “adds to the growing body of literature regarding microplastics as a ubiquitous airborne pollutant…”

Of particular import, the authors note that Antarctica, due to its inaccessibility, extreme environmental conditions, and barriers such as the Antarctic …

Continue Reading

New York is Ready to Attack Crypto Mining

On June 3, 2022, the New York State Senate passed the first bill in the country that bans certain cryptocurrency (crypto) mining operations. This bill, passed by the New York State Assembly in April 2022, now goes to Governor Kathy Hochul for her signature. The bill imposes a two-year moratorium on crypto mining operations that “require proof-of-work authentication methods to validate block chain transaction.” The bill would also require the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to prepare a “generic” environmental impact statement on cryptocurrency mining operations using proof-of-work authentication …

Continue Reading

Plaintiffs in PFAS Food-Packaging Case Met With Motion to Dismiss

A few weeks ago, our blog reported on a number of complaints filed against some of the most recognizable fast food chains, arising from alleged PFAS-containing food wrappers. The alleged concern is that PFAS contained in the wrapper, for example, will migrate into the food itself, creating exposure through consumption of the food. Now, a fast-food chain named in one of the suits is hitting back. A few days ago, the chain filed a motion to dismiss the proposed class action, proffering a number of …

Continue Reading

State tort damages loom for companies plausibly connected to climate change

In April, various California communities moved one step closer to holding energy companies liable for damage to public infrastructure allegedly caused by climate change.  The communities claimed this damage occurred due to the companies’ use of and advocacy for fossil fuels despite the companies’ understanding of those fuels’ negative environmental impacts.

Local governments argue that compensation of climate-related infrastructure damage, for which they bear the cost, is a parochial concern belonging in state court. In County of San Mateo v. Chevron, the Ninth Circuit—like …

Continue Reading

World’s Next Environmental Superhero is a Plastic-Eating Enzyme

If you aren’t toting a reusable water bottle, bamboo straw, or canvas grocery bag, news of a plastic-eating enzyme may not resonate as revolutionary. Nevertheless, plastic waste ranks up there as one of the most pressing environmental problems we face today. There has been little hope in sight of how to shrink the colossal amount of plastic waste—measured in billions of tons—accumulating in landfills across the globe, plaguing our ecosystems, and generating environmental contamination lawsuits. Last month, however, researchers at The University of Texas at …

Continue Reading