PFAS Alert: More Bipartisan Legislation Being Introduced

On March 28, 2019, U.S. Senators. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and U.S. Representatives. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) introduced bipartisan legislation to sample water for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The PFAS Detection Act of 2019 would authorize the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct a nationwide sampling to test surface and groundwater for PFAS pollution, with a special focus on water near sites already known or suspected to be contaminated. The PFAS Detection Act also appropriates $45 million to the USGS to conduct this nationwide sampling for PFAS in the environment. To carry
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The Replacements: DC Circuit Partially Vacates EPA’s HFC Rule

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invalidated part of a 2016 EPA rule that made hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) unacceptable for various uses in aerosols, automobile air conditioners, commercial refrigerators, and foams. In the waning years of the Obama presidency, EPA made an effort to combat climate change by enacting two rules restricting the use of HFCs, which are greenhouse gases. EPA claimed it had authority to do so under Title VI of the Clean Air Act.
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Emerging Contaminants: Testing Finds 1,4-Dioxane Present in Dozens of Household Products

Testing conducted by the group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which is purportedly pushing for a New York state ban on 1,4-Dioxane in household products, has found the chemical at various levels in “65 of 80” commonly used (and commonly disposed of) high-end and less expensive personal care and detergent products. In conjunction with an uptick in 1,4-Dioxane litigation, these new studies likely provide lawyers, litigants, and other concerned parties a hint at what’s to come. As a refresher, 1,4-Dioxane
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Partially Stripped

On March 15, 2019, the EPA proposed as a Final Rule a scaled down version of the total ban on the use of methyl chloride in paint stripper. The EPA proposed the Final Rule in connection with its administration of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Under the scaled down version, methyl chloride is banned from all consumer use paint removers but this toxic chemical can still be used for commercial applications provided there is appropriate training. This version of
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1,4-Dioxane is Back in Court, Following a New and Familiar Template for Water Authority Claims

Late last week, a pair of lawsuits on water contamination were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of local water authorities. Back in the news is the emerging contaminant 1,4-dioxane, which made headlines in late 2017 in a related and similar groundbreaking lawsuit that sought to recover costs against major manufacturers for the design, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of water treatment facilities and equipment required to remove the 1,4-dioxane from
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New Mexico Joins the PFAS Fight with Major Enforcement Action

We recently reported that the lately-inaugurated governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has taken a strong stance on environmental issues, including oil and gas development. Now, the state has taken further steps to enforce its contamination laws and improve the state’s environmental profile. Last week, the State of New Mexico filed suit against the United States based on PFOS and PFOA contamination originating at two Air Force bases — Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico and Holloman
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Coal Ash Alert: Report From Environmental Groups Claim 9 out of 10 Coal Ash Ponds Cause Groundwater Contamination

A collection of environmental groups have released a report claiming that the vast majority of coal ash ponds in the United States have leaked toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater. The report, based on monitoring data released by 250 power plants, found that 91 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power plants reported elevated levels of at least one contaminant such as arsenic, lithium, chromium and other pollutants in nearby groundwater. The report also claims a majority of the plants reported having
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Breaking: U.S. Supreme Court Will Weigh in on Clean Water Act Circuit Split, and EPA May Tip the Scale

Big news on the Clean Water Act (CWA). With the backdrop of a major circuit split (previously discussed here), the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Ninth Circuit case of County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The Supreme Court will now have to determine whether discharges of pollutants to surface waters via groundwater are regulated under the CWA. In County of Maui, plaintiff-environmentalists alleged that the wastewater from a municipal wastewater treatment facility was seeping through
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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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A Trade Off For Clean Water

On February 6, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its updated Water Quality Trading Policy (Updated Policy). The Updated Policy is an effort to respond to a growing environmental crisis — the over-enrichment of freshwater and coastal ecosystems with nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). Sources of nutrients include agriculture run-off, sewage treatment plants, and urban and suburban storm water. Reducing certain nutrients in water is one of the nation’s most challenging environmental issues. At its most basic principle, “[w]ater
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