Energy Regulators Dial Back Grid Reliability Standards Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Last week the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jointly announced the suspension of certain rules through July 31, 2020, in an effort to allow utility operators to “focus their resources on keeping people safe and the lights on during this unprecedented public health emergency.”[1]  NERC, a nonprofit corporation devoted to reducing risks to the reliability and security of the electrical grid across North America, develops and enforces the Reliability Standards, which are designed to ensure …

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Empire State’s Renewable Energy Project Siting Bill: A Different Kind of Regulatory Cleanup

Many efforts in environmental law aim at enacting regulations to help clean up the environment. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo submitted a bill that flips the script last week. The proposed law aims to clean up New York’s regulations about siting for and permitting  renewable energy projects.

Under the proposed law, a new office would be created within the state’s Department of Economic Development tasked with overseeing siting and permitting for renewable energy projects. Environmental reviews for such projects would also be the new office’s …

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Proposed Rollback of NEPA Regulations to Impact Review of Environmental Impacts of Federally-Approved Projects

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed a new rule on January 10, 2020 to alter the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires federal agencies to review the potential environmental effects of all federal, federally-assisted, and federally-licensed actions, and analyze potential alternative solutions before making a final decision on such actions. In essence, agencies are required to comply with the NEPA environmental review process, while considering a wide range of federal actions that include federal construction projects, plans to develop federally owned lands, and federal approvals of non-federal activities such …

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CDC Revises Number of Reported Legionellosis Cases Upward

The original number of cases of Legionellosis reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for calendar year 2018 was already at a record 8,356 cases. This November, that number was revised upward to 9,933 cases, representing an increase of 18.8 percent . Although Legionellosis includes both Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever, the vast majority of these newly reported cases were for the more serious diagnosis of Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by a waterborne pathogen known as legionella

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Illinois Legislature Advance Ethylene Oxide Ban

On October 30, 2019, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to approve legislation that would effectively ban the use of ethylene oxide, which is a chemical used for sterilizing the majority of medical devices found in hospital operating rooms and other health care settings. In moving forward with the legislation, Illinois lawmakers rejected warnings from federal health care regulators and medical device and surgical tool manufacturers that the measure would lead to shortages of properly sterilized health care tools. To lawmakers, however, the legislation is …

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New Jersey Governor Announces Ambitious 10-Year Plan to Remove Lead from Service Lines and Paint in Homes Throughout the State

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a comprehensive statewide plan to address lead exposure throughout the state. “My comprehensive statewide plan brings together experts from our cabinet departments, stakeholders, and advocates to create strong partnerships and implement policies to protect New Jersey’s children and families from lead” the governor commented. “Together, guided by the actions outlined in our strategy, we will overcome this public health challenge that has been building for decades to ensure that our residents are safe from lead exposure for generations to …

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Third Circuit Court of Appeals Delivers Knockout Punch to PennEast Natural Gas Pipeline, Eminent Domain Squashed

Previously, we reported that that the United States District Courts for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the District of New Jersey granted a consortium of natural gas companies the right of eminent domain to take steps toward building the PennEast pipeline to connect natural gas sources in Pennsylvania to parts of New Jersey. We then reported that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay to temporarily stop any physical construction from beginning on the pipeline in New Jersey until the appeal was decided. 

​Now, in the next …

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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 open for public comment for …

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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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Record-Setting $2 Billion Verdict In Glyphosate Litigation

Previously, we reported two significant jury verdicts involving alleged exposure to glyphosate-containing Roundup, including a $289 million verdict and an $80 million verdict, both occurring in California courts within the past year.

In another plaintiff’s victory, an Alameda County jury has reached a record-setting $2 billion verdict against Monsanto — the largest in history involving alleged exposure to glyphosate. This is now the third consecutive herbicide trial where a jury has found in favor of plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs in this case, Alva and Alberta …

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