Timothy C. Connor

All articles by Timothy C. Connor

 

California Wildfires Provide Another Forum for Climate Change Debate

In 2018, California has seen a spate of devastating wildfires that has already consumed more than 1,000,000 acres, caused scores of deaths, rampant property destruction, and millions of dollars in economic loss.  Following a 2017 fire season that was nearly equally as tragic, a public debate has emerged regarding the origin of the increased frequency and intensity of these disasters. In August, following fires in Redding, California, and in the last week during blazes outside of Sacramento and Los Angeles,
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A $289 Million Dollar Roundup Verdict is at Risk of Reversal

Last week, a San Francisco judge issued a tentative ruling on the defendant Monsanto Company’s Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict, and their Motion for a New Trial.  This ruling threatens to gut the $289 million dollar verdict ($39M compensatory and $250M punitives) that the plaintiff Dewayne Johnson secured this summer over the company that manufactures Roundup and Ranger Pro, the glyphosate-containing herbicides used by the plaintiff in his work as a school district groundskeeper and that were alleged to have
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Battles Over Suspension of the Clean Water Rule Leave 23 States Under its Guidance

In the last year, we’ve reported several times on the implementation and interpretation of the Clean Water Rule. The 2015 Clean Water Rule, or Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, attempted to more clearly define which bodies of water fall under United States federal jurisdiction and are covered under the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA). It expanded protection to some tributaries, streams, and wetlands that lead to the “navigable waters” traditionally protected under the CWA. Critics argue that in effect, the WOTUS
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EPA’s Slow March Towards Federal Regulation of PFAS

In May, we reported on developments involving a case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania involving water contamination and exposure to per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS is a family of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA (and many others). The chemicals are commonly found in many consumer products, including stick-proof food packaging, waterproof clothing, and non-stick cookware. The plaintiffs in the PA case alleged that aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) used for firefighting drills at the Naval
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Appeals Court Leaves Potential for Hydraulic Fracturing Revival in the Delaware River Basin

Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit issued a decision that leaves a glimmer of hope for hydraulic fracturing entrepreneurs in the Delaware River Basin, which encompasses portions of 24 counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware. On July 3, a three judge panel issued an opinion on their review of a Pennsylvania federal court’s decision to grant a motion to dismiss a case for declaratory relief brought by oil and gas
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Battles over Lead Paint Rage On in California

Three paint manufacturers who have been in a tug-of-war with several California counties regarding potential liability for lead paint resorted to a state balloting process to shift the potential exposure. The battle started to intensify earlier this year when the California Supreme Court declined to review a 2014 state appeals court ruling that held manufacturers Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and ConAgra Grocery Products Co. liable for $1.15 billion dollars in costs associated with remediation of lead paint in housing
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Bystanders Beware – No Strict Products Liability Claims for Bystanders in AFFF / PFAS Actions in Pennsylvania

Lawsuits involving water contamination have been trending over the past couple years throughout the United States. We’ve seen a shift in the plaintiff’s bar’s focus from pursuing point sources to utilizing traditional product liability theories to support allegations of contamination against manufacturer defendants when the opportunity presents itself. The blue print’s simple – pursue deep pocketed manufacturers where insurance is often available. The product liability lawsuits against manufacturers of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) – a firefighting foam utilized at airports
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How Clean is Clean? Environmental Issues Hamper CA Wildfire Recovery

Late last year, we reported on the looming environmental threat of the 2017 California wildfires. The threat has become reality with respect to two contaminants in particular: benzene and arsenic. As reconstruction moves forward in Northern California this year, real human health hazards created by the devastating fires are now present. Municipal officials in Fountaingrove, California have found elevated benzene readings in hundreds of samples of drinking water over the last several months, and the city is evaluating the necessity of
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Tijuana Blues: Mexican Wastewater Contaminates SoCal Coast, According to New Lawsuit

SoCal surfer dudes were in for a surprise when a serious funk rolled in with the tides in Imperial Beach and Chula Vista, California. A new lawsuit has been filed against the International Boundary & Water Commission – United States Section (IBWC or the Commission) and Veolia Water North America West for repeatedly failing to address “devastating pollution discharges” from the Tijuana River, which had been used as a dump for decades. In the last three years alone, severely polluted
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Calls for Stronger Ban of Fracking Wastewater at Delaware River Basin Commission Hearings

As a follow up to our recent December post, public hearings were held in Pennsylvania last month on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s 2017 resolution that could lead to a permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed — a region that includes 24 counties in portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Currently, there’s a moratorium in place that has halted fracking activities in the Basin since 2010. Some property owners in the affected region
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Shale Watch Alert — Delaware River Basin Commission Moves Toward Hydraulic Fracturing Ban

While the Trump administration has ushered in an era of deregulation on the environmental front, including proposals to repeal Obama-era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on government land, the Delaware River Basin Commission (the Commission) recently made headway in the other direction. On November 30, 2017, the Commission approved a resolution that could lead to a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed —a region that includes 24 counties in portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
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The Delaware River Basin Commission Moves Toward Fracking Ban

While the Trump administration has ushered in an era of deregulation on the environmental front, including proposals to repeal Obama era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on government land, the Delaware River Basin Commission (the DRBC) recently made headway in the other direction. On November 30, 2017, the DRBC approved a resolution that could lead to a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed, a region that includes 24 counties in portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and
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The California Wild Fires – A Looming Environmental Threat

Clean-up efforts are underway following the devastating Northern California wildfires of last month. Early damage estimates are in the $3-6 billion dollar range. While property damage estimates continue to be updated, Cal Fire reports that 8,400 structures were destroyed by the fires that spanned 245,000 acres. The health impact on residents and workers, as well as the impact to the environment during cleanup efforts from toxins and fire residue in the air and watershed are serious concerns. Asbestos siding, treated wood
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