Timothy C. Connor

All articles by Timothy C. Connor

 

Wolverine State Moves Toward Regulation of GenX

Michigan could be the first state in the nation to establish maximum contaminant levels for the chemical, GenX. This comes after a Science Advisory Workgroup, made up of three environmental and health experts, listed GenX among seven chemicals deserving of regulation in the state’s drinking water in late June. Although it gained notoriety for contaminating the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, GenX is not among chemicals currently regulated by the EPA, leaving beleaguered states to step up and set
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Regulatory Alert: EPA Publishes Draft Risk Evaluations for 1,4-Dioxane and HBCD

Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued controversial draft risk evaluations for 1,4-Dioxane and Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD), two of 10 chemicals subject to scrutiny under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Under the Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which amended the TSCA in 2016, the EPA is required to publish information regarding “hazards, exposures, conditions of use and potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations,” regarding the enumerated chemicals. These risk evaluations are
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PFAS Contamination Map Underscores Widespread Pollution

In conjunction with the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute of Northeastern University, the non-profit watchdog organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) published last week an updated version of their interactive map documenting alleged sites of PFAS contamination in the United States. It purports to chart 610 locations in 43 states that have reported known contamination with PFAS chemicals, potentially affecting the drinking water of approximately 19 million people. A prior version of the map issued in July 2018 documented only 172 contaminated
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Advanced Nuclear Power Legislation Introduced and Touted as Antidote to Climate Change

In late March, a group of fifteen bipartisan senators reintroduced the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) bill to the Senate. This legislation was originally introduced in September of 2018, but was not voted on before the Congressional session ended at the end of the year. It is being lauded as an important means for battling climate change and to support the promotion of non-fossil fuel based energy in the United States. Early agreement across party aisles is encouraging. As advanced,
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PG&E Wildfire Bankruptcy Doubles Down on Environmental Setbacks for the Golden State

In what the Wall Street Journal touted as “(t)he First Climate Change Bankruptcy,” Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) filed for federal bankruptcy protection last month after claiming that it faced $30 billion dollars in liability for wildfires that ravaged California over the last several years. Investigators have determined that the California utility company caused at least 17 of 21 major Northern California wildfires that occurred in 2017, and inquiries into PG&E’s culpability for 2018 fires that killed scores of people and
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Majority Views on Roundup Toxicity Challenged by Recent Study

As the next bellwether glyphosate case against Roundup producer Monsanto begins a bifurcated trial on February 25 that places science and causation evidence in the forefront, last week, the journal Mutation Research published a study challenging the prevailing opinions of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the European Food Safety Authority, the European Chemicals Agency, Australia, New Zealand, and German BfR (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) which all find that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe and not carcinogenic. Notably, three
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“PFAS Action Act of 2019” Proposed to Designate PFAS as CERCLA Hazardous Substances as More States Move To Regulate Locally

This month, a trio of bi-partisan legislators from Michigan introduced a bill in the United States House of Representatives that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to classify all PFAS chemicals under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund staute. The bill, introduced by Reps. Dan Kildee (D), Fred Upton (R), and Debbie Dingell (D) and referred to as the “PFAS Action Act of 2019,” would require such designation by
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The EPA’s Recent WOTUS Proposal Continues the Death Knell for the Clean Water Rule (2015)

The 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, suffered another blow last week as the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers released a new proposed definition of covered waters to replace the Obama administration’s controversial regulation, and opened a 60 day period for public comment. As we’ve previously reported, litigation throughout the United States has left a patchwork quilt of states where the WOTUS rule remained in effect.
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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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