Golden State’s Governor Takes Bold Measures in Effort to Combat Climate Change; Issues Ban On Gas-Powered Cars

As an unprecedented amount of wild fires continue to ravage the state of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20 on September 23, 2020, banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks by 2035—an aggressive attempt to combat the effects of climate change.

The order recognizes that bold action is needed to eliminate emissions from transportation, which is the largest source of carbon emissions in the state. The order also notes that zero emissions technologies reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollutants, and …

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Does This Mean My Trucker Hat is Cool Again? CARB Enacts First Mandate for Implementation of Zero-Emission Trucks in the U.S.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a rule on June 25, 2020, setting a deadline of 2045 for all trucks sold in California to be zero-emission models. The rule is the first of its kind in the United States. Globally, the rule represents one of the most ambitious efforts to date to replace diesel trucks with battery-powered and other zero-emission vehicles.

“It is clear this is the first of its kind in the world,” said California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols. “It’s part …

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States Bring WOTUS Rule Back to Court

The state of California continued its crusade against the Trump Administration this month, filing a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA, challenging the agency’s replacement for the defunct 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS). Sixteen other states joined the lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California. The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) as used in the Clean Water Act has been disputed for …

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We Need to Talk … It’s Not Me, It’s You: EPA Accuses California of Worsening Environmental Issues

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has accused California of “failing to meet its obligations” to protect the environment, claiming that the state’s growing homeless population threatens its water quality. In an oversight letter, Administrator Wheeler charged California officials with failing to meet federal health standards in numerous communities where large homeless populations litter the streets with trash, drug paraphernalia and human waste. The letter went on to argue that California’s focus on global warming has come at the expense of more basic environmental protections. Specifically, the …

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California v. Trump Administration Round LX: California and EPA War Over Vehicle Emission Standards

The Trump administration’s ongoing war with California over environmental standards has now reached a fever pitch. On September 19, 2019, the EPA announced that it will revoke the Clean Air Act waiver historically granted to California, which has allowed the state to set its own auto emission standards. The next day, California and 23 other states filed suit against EPA challenging the revocation.

The EPA’s stated goal is to reduce the regulatory burden on automakers by implementing a single national standard for emissions. However, the EPA’s move may …

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$2 Billion Glyphosate Verdict Weed Whacked To $86.7 Million

On July 25, 2019, Judge Winifred Smith of the Alameda County, California Superior Court reduced a $2 billion judgment entered by a jury against Monsanto Company, holding that the damages award was unconstitutionally high. The damages award was the third against the Bayer AG subsidiary in cases regarding whether popular herbicide Roundup causes Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The court reduced the judgment to $86.7 million.

The court held that there was clear and convincing evidence that Monsanto committed malice, oppression, or fraud. Specifically, the evidence showed that …

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Three Steps Forward, Three Steps Back- California Moves Forward With Legislation to Adopt Overturned Federal Regulations

In a move that seems tailor-made to create additional litigation, California legislators are considering legislation that would automatically adopt any federal environmental regulations that are weakened or eliminated by the federal government.

“SB 1 ensures clean air, clean water, endangered species, and worker safety standards that have been in place for as long as 50 years are not rolled back as a result of the anti-environment actions of the president and Congress,” Toni Atkins, Senate president pro tem, said in a statement accompanying the legislation.…

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Tug-of-War: EPA and States Take Opposing Action on 1,4-Dioxane

On June 28, 2019, the EPA released its draft risk evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane. The EPA’s initial determination was that 1,4-Dioxane poses no unreasonable risks to the environment and no unreasonable risks to occupational non-users. However, the EPA also concluded that the chemical presents unreasonable risks to workers in certain circumstances. The same day, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control held a public workshop on 1,4-Dioxane risks, and the department is actively considering further regulation. Just two days earlier, the New York legislature approved a …

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To Remove or Not Remove – Complete Preemption is the Question!

An interesting dichotomy is developing in how federal courts are determining the proper forum for climate change lawsuits, that is whether they should be heard in state or federal court. This question, while seemingly a technical matter of civil procedure, could be fundamental to whether current and future climate change suits will be successful or whether they will be heard at all. The technical issue at stake is preemption – whether federal issues are determinative of the matters raised in the climate change suit  – …

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Summer of Discontent – EPA looks to eliminate California Air Resources Board

Despite an effort by the automotive industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to finalize a proposal that would freeze fuel economy standards at roughly 37 miles per gallon for the next six years, rather than raising them to nearly 51 miles per gallon for 2025 models. The rule would also revoke California’s existing waiver to set its own rules under the Clean Air Act, a practice the federal government has allowed for decades.

“As we acknowledged earlier this year, California Air Resources Board …

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