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
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Climate Change Litigation: Where Are the Coverage Suits?

There is an interesting question surrounding the present generation of climate change lawsuits currently working their way through the court system. Specifically, where are the duty to defend actions related to these suits? Background By way of background, there are two types of climate change lawsuits currently working their way through the courts: Those filed by government entities that seek to hold energy companies responsible for the costs that government entities are forced to expend in adapting to climate change,
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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 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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Sub-National Efforts to Tackle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Take up the Slack

Given the Trump Administration’s position on climate change, one could easily become discouraged that any meaningful progress can be made in reaching the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) set for the United States under the 2015 Paris Agreement to stabilize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to keep anthropogenic warming to below 2°C. Under the Paris Agreement, the United States is tasked with reducing its GHG emissions by 26-28 percent below its 2005 emissions by 2025. Such pessimism might not be completely warranted, however, despite the Trump Administration’s notice that the United States is pulling out of the Paris Agreement.
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Environmental Due Diligence: What’s The Latest On Federal Environmental Review?

Just a few days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee — in a tight split — voted to support a bill that seeks to target the slow pace of the permitting process for infrastructure and development projects that require review by federal agencies. The bill, named the “Permitting Litigation Efficiency Act,” is expected to impose limits on federal review of projects, i.e., an apparent two-year deadline for federal agencies to determine whether a project can go forward. Other
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NYS DEC Adopts First Major Update to State’s Environmental Quality Review Regulations in 20 Years

On June 28, 2018, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) promulgated revisions to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). These are the first substantial revisions to SEQRA in over 20 years.The amendments go into effect beginning January 1, 2019 and will apply to all pending and future actions. Under SEQRA, actions are classified into three main designations: Type I, Type II, and Unlisted. The new amendments provide major changes to the types of projects that fall under the Type I and Type II classifications. The new
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Be Prepared: New York City Cooling Tower Enforcement Heats Up As Summer Approaches

It has been about three years since Legionnaires’ disease made national headlines associated with the cooling tower of the Opera House Hotel in the South Bronx.  Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by a waterborne pathogen known as Legionella. It is contracted when susceptible individuals inhale water droplets or mist containing elevated levels of legionella bacteria. New York City has as many as 1,200 towers that are evaporative heat exchangers usually installed on the top of a building as part of its air conditioning system in which water
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Superfund Alert: The Latest Proposed Changes to CERCLA

On February 12, 2018, President Trump’s Administration published its Infrastructure Plan (Plan) aimed at fixing America’s infrastructure. Within the Plan are several proposed changes to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (also known as Superfund). The first proposed change is to expand funding eligibility for revitalization projects under CERCLA. Currently, CERCLA Sections 101(39)(B) and 101(41)(C) only authorize grants or revolving loans for brownfields — properties that contain hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants that complicate expansion, redevelopment,
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