EPA Releases Compliance Advisory for UV Devices Designed to Kill Germs, Bacteria, and Viruses

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant shortage of traditional household disinfectant products such as wipes and sprays, numerous ultraviolet (UV) devices have been marketed to consumers with claims that they kill germs, bacteria, and viruses. What some may not know is that UV lights that are sold or distributed with these claims are subject to various federal regulation, including the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIRA), which governs the registration, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides in the United States. …

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New York Takes Next Step in Nation-Leading Offshore Wind Efforts

The deadline for submitting proposals in response to New York’s second solicitation for offshore wind procurement recently expired, with three companies in the running to land contracts, including Vineyard Wind, Equinor Wind, and Bay State Wind (a joint venture of Ørsted A/S and Eversource Energy). Each submitted proposals in response to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s July 21, 2020, solicitation for 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy. These proposals followed along the heels of the state’s 2018 solicitation for 1,700 megawatts of offshore wind, which …

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Presidential Environmental Policy Rigidly Defined by Doubt and Uncertainty

Following what seemed like an interminable and chaotic presidential election cycle, November 3, 2020, is finally upon us, and the country will soon know who our next president will be. Regardless of whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden takes the oath of office come January, what is not certain is how each of their respective policy objectives would play out during the next presidential term―particularly with regard to environmental regulations and oversight. Although one might assume the vast gulf between the two candidates on environmental …

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New Jersey May Be First in Country to Ban Paper Bags

New Jersey is slated to join the ever-growing list of states implementing bans on plastic bags, but a bill passed by the New Jersey Legislature on September 24, 2020 takes the regulation one step further—banning paper bags as well.

The bill, originally introduced in January 2020, seeks to ban “single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use paper carryout bags, polystyrene foam food service products, and single-use plastic straws.” While plastics do appear to be the focus of the bill, it includes language that “single-use paper carryout bags …

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Increase of Climate-Related Weather Events Continue to Threaten Superfund Sites

The U.S. EPA’s Superfund program began in 1980 in response to serious health concerns arising out of a school and neighborhood in upstate New York that was built atop a toxic-waste dumping ground now infamously known as Love Canal—the nation’s first Superfund site. Since then, a list of more than 1,750 sites have cropped up and made it to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List.

Turning to weather-related events—the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned in a 2019 report that 945 Superfund sites remain vulnerable to …

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Will the U.S. Finally Have a Legal Reckoning with Ammonium Nitrate?

The explosion in the port of Beirut earlier this month was caused by—according to Lebanese officials—ammonium nitrate, and serves as a reminder of the deadly power of this chemical when recklessly stored or when there is an absence of oversight of its use.

Indeed, the Lebanese disaster echoes similarly fatal explosions involving ammonium nitrate at chemical plants in industrial pockets of the United States. Moreover, it is a primary chemical component of the livestock manure and fertilizer blanketing ever-expanding farms flung across the nation that …

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Oil Prospecting in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Is it Worth It?

Earlier this week, the Trump administration finalized its plan to open up a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development. This marks a significant change in protections for the Refuge, as protections have been afforded to this large stretch of wilderness for more than half a century. The Trump administration was drawn to this area of land based on a large coastal plain located in the Refuge, which is believed to contain significant portions of oil. Furthermore, oil production …

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Bona-Fide Improvement: Ohio Adds BFPP Defense to Hazardous Waste Liability

This summer, Ohio implemented a change in its hazardous waste law that will be welcomed news to purchasers of brownfields. The new law adds a bona-fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) affirmative defense that will make those who qualify for its protections “immune to liability” to the state under the state’s environmental laws. Additionally, the new defense applies retroactively to pending causes of action that started before the law’s effective date.

The concept of a BFPP defense is familiar to purchasers of commercial property, as a similar …

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Wave of Oil and Gas Bankruptcies Expected to Lead to Costly Cleanups

U.S. oil and gas companies have increasingly moved towards bankruptcy—particularly in recent months—amid a global price war and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing demand. It is possible that nearly 250 oil and gas companies may file for bankruptcy protection by the end of 2021. This market crisis may soon bring about, and be further compounded by, a costly environmental crisis involving abandoned hydraulic fracturing wells. 

Abandoned wells often leak gases, such as methane, that pollute and warm the planet. Preventing water contamination or …

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Supreme Court Limits Prohibition on Streamlined Pipeline Permitting Process

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan issued an Order for the Supreme Court on a stay application, limiting a lower court decision that prohibited new pipeline projects from using Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), a permit used for certain types of discharges in oil and gas infrastructure projects. The stay of the lower court decision does not apply to the Keystone XL pipeline project, which is the subject of a pending appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The stay …

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