The EPA’s Action Plan to Restore a Cornerstone of its Mission

In May, E. Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, issued a memo about prioritizing the Superfund Program and establishing a commission to expedite the identification and revitalization of superfund sites. CERCLA created the Superfund Program in 1980, but efforts to revitalize superfund sites have lately been delayed by red tape, funding issues, bankruptcies, and court proceedings. In his memo directed to the deputy administrator, the inspector general, assistant administrators, and other high level personnel, Pruitt vowed that “the EPA’s Superfund land and
Continue reading...

Does this Water Taste … Nuclear to You? Florida Power Company Granted Permission to Store Wastewater from Proposed Nuclear Reactors Beneath Miami’s Drinking Water Aquifers

After a months-long battle, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently granted Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) application to: (1) build two new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point Generating Station; (2) store wastewater from the proposed nuclear reactors under Miami’s drinking water aquifers; and (3) eventually store nuclear waste near the same site. This application was granted despite previous citations issued to FPL for its leaks of saltwater into drinking water and wastewater into Biscayne Bay that were from
Continue reading...

How Will Businesses and the Insurance Industry Respond to the Growing Threat of Climate Change?

The ability of the global insurance industry to manage society’s risks likely will be significantly impacted by climate change in coming years. The ClimateWise report recently confirmed that since the 1950s the frequency of weather-related catastrophes has increased six-fold. As these risks occur more often, previously insurable assets are becoming uninsurable, and those already underinsured are further compromised. The overall consequences can be far reaching and as yet, we are not able to comprehend the vast nature of the risk.
Continue reading...

Nuclear Option: New York Federal Judge Strikes Down Challenge to Power Plant Subsidies

On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni dismissed a challenge to New York’s plan to subsidize the state’s nuclear power plants. According to the Judge’s decision, the plan does not intrude upon federal jurisdiction over wholesale electricity markets and passes constitutional muster because it is rationally related to a legitimate state interest: the production of clean energy and the reduction of carbon emissions from the production of other energy. A coalition of power generators and energy
Continue reading...

The Trump Administration’s Unified Agenda: An Exercise in Deregulation

A few weeks ago, we outlined the Trump administration’s rollback of the Clean Water Rule — an Obama era proposal that expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This past week saw the administration continue on that theme, deregulating the Obama era agenda. On Thursday, July 20, 2017, the administration released its semi-annual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions — a report on the actions that administrative agencies plan to issue in
Continue reading...

Don’t Spill the Nurdles! EPA Reaches Settlement with Two Plastic Manufacturers Over Pollution of the Los Angeles River and Permit Violations

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it reached an agreement with two Southern California plastic manufacturers over violations of the Clean Water Act.  In 2015, Western States Packaging Inc. (Western States) and Direct Pack Inc. (Direct Pack) were cited for violations relating to their use of plastic pellets, known as “nurdles,” at their manufacturing facilities in Southern California.  Nurdles are plastic beads about 1/5 of an inch in diameter that are used to make jars, bags
Continue reading...

Di-can’t-a? Three Midwestern States Act to Limit the Use of Dicamba

On July 14, 2017, Tennessee joined Arkansas and Missouri in limiting the use of dicamba. Dicamba is an herbicide used to combat broadleaf weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides. The use of dicamba has increased significantly since the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of dicamba on soybeans and cotton that are genetically modified to tolerate the chemical. Older formulations of dicamba had been reported to drift after application and affect other crops
Continue reading...

EPA’s “Sham Recycling” Rule Partially Discarded by D.C. Circuit

On July 7, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down portions of a 2015 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency final rule designed to limit “sham recycling” of hazard waste materials. See American Petroleum Institute v. Environmental Protection Agency, 2017 WL 2883867 (2017). In 2015, EPA promulgated a final rule (Final Rule) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) attempting to prevent “sham recycling.” The Final Rule came as a result of years of negotiation,
Continue reading...

California’s Groundwater Protection Plans Seek to Protect and Preserve the State’s Most Scarce Resource

This past winter, California finally experienced the rain it had been desperately awaiting for several years. The state Department of Water Resources is tracking more than 22 million acre-feet of water in its reservoirs, hoping that it will replenish the losses sustained from 2012 onward when a drought began ravaging the state. While California residents must be excited at the prospect of longer showers, state water officials are researching how to best make the bounty last. California precipitation is unpredictable,
Continue reading...

The Rollback Begins: Is it the Beginning of the End for the Clean Water Rule?

President Trump recently got the ball rolling on rescinding or revising The Clean Water Rule (the Rule) — a President Obama-era environmental regulation that sought to expand the federal government’s reach under the Clean Water Act (CWA). For background, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, enacted in 1948 and later reorganized and expanded in 1972, is known today as the CWA. The CWA establishes a structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulates
Continue reading...