U.S. EPA Takes Key Step Toward Regulating PFOA and PFOS

As the virus pandemic has consumed our daily news, even some of the most important developments in the environmental world seem to have floated under the radar. Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an initial regulatory determination under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)—the two most notorious substances in the family of thousands of similar “forever chemicals” also collectively referred to as PFAS. 

The EPA’s announcement—a little over a year following its release of …

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COVID-19 and the U.S. Drinking Water Supply: What We Know Now

As the nation grapples with COVID-19, we wanted to pass along information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that may not be relayed as frequently as other critical details and advice on prevention and awareness.

Presently, the CDC states that COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water, and that conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection (like those found in most municipal drinking water systems) should be effective in removing or …

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When Too Much Is Too Much: EPA Declines Further Regulation Over Chemical Manufacturers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, signed a proposed rule under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to not impose financial responsibility requirements for facilities in the chemical manufacturing industry on Feb. 10, 2020. A number of environmental advocacy groups spurred this action in August 2014 when they filed a writ of mandamus in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking financial responsibility rules in this industry and others.

Section 108(b) of CERCLA addresses the promulgation …

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Principles of Interpretation and Separation of Powers: Federal Court’s PFAS Ruling a Short Study in Both

Our readers are well aware of the ongoing debate on whether perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (commonly known, together, as PFAS) should be designated as hazardous substances. Despite the constant attention these compounds receive, they are yet to be designated. There is a recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that highlights the legal significance while employing some basic principles. 

In Giovanni, et al. v. United States Dep’t of the Navy, individual plaintiffs discovered that PFAS chemicals from nearby Navy facilities had infiltrated …

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An Exercise in Separation of Powers: Second Circuit Signals Affirmance of Dismissal of NYC Climate Change Lawsuit

“Global warming and solutions thereto must be addressed by the two other branches of government,” said district court judge John Keenan last July in nixing New York City’s climate change nuisance suit that seeks to hold major oil companies liable for global-warming related injuries resulting from greenhouse gas emissions. New York City appealed Judge Keenan’s dismissal to the second circuit, arguing that its action is not an attempt to regulate emissions.

Late last week, hearing New York City’s appeal of Judge Keenan’s dismissal, the second …

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Early Halloween Scares: Defendants File Motion To Dismiss In 20 Long Island 1,4-Dioxane Litigations

Earlier this year, Environmental Law Monitor  posted about 1,4-dioxane litigations filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. These litigations followed on the heels of the Suffolk County Water Authority’s (SCWA) 2017 watershed action concerning drinking water contamination. Almost two years removed from the SCWA action, it appears that at least 27 Long Island water districts have filed actions (with three new filings this month), mostly following in line with the litigation strategy developed by SCWA. If you recall, …

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New Investigation Reveals Many Potentially Problematic PFAS Chemicals Still In Circulation – And Some Good News Too

PFOA and PFOS, the most notorious compounds in the PFAS family, still contaminate many areas of the country despite being phased out of production (PFOS was phased out in 2002, and PFOA by 2015/2016.) Although human studies have shown these chemicals to be of little toxicity, there are many animal studies that reveal these chemicals to be highly toxic. It’s not surprising then that there is a growing groundswell of advocacy behind federal regulation of these chemicals. And if the scientific uncertainty surrounding PFAS wasn’t …

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SSRA 2.0: New Jersey Makes Changes to its Privatized Site Contamination Remediation Law

On Friday, August 23, 2019, Gov. Murphy signed into law an amendment to New Jersey’s 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act (SSRA)—a law that privatized many responsibilities previously handled by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) concerning the remediation of contaminated sites. The SSRA created what is called the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) program; LSRPs are experienced, private sector environmental professionals that are licensed by the state and hired by Responsible Parties (RPs) to direct and oversee environmental investigations and remedial action in …

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Don’t Go Taking My Land: Did SCOTUS Find a Serious Hurdle for State Limitations on Energy Development?

What does a private graveyard have to do with environmental regulation? Potentially a lot. The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that property owners can forgo state court to assert claims that the government unconstitutionally allowed a “taking” of their land. Most are familiar with the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment: “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” That is, governments are not permitted to take private property without providing fair value.

The decision, Knick v. Township

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New Analysis of Public Data Highlights Emerging Contaminant Prevalence in New York

Just this week, the New York Public Interest Research Group released a report that analyzes an array of public federal data pertaining to unregulated emerging contaminants and their prevalence in New York State. The report is noteworthy for its study of more than 20 different emerging contaminants impacting the state.

The report, titled “What’s in My Water?”, clearly notes that the mere existence of emerging contaminants does not necessarily mean that the public’s health is at risk. However, the report proclaims a call …

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