Hurricane Maria Brings Expected Adverse Environmental Impact to Puerto Rico

In recent weeks, we’ve written about the documented environmental effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The recovery periods for those disasters will take substantial time, and even then the ramifications of those powerful hurricanes will be felt long after. Unfortunately, we have seen yet another natural disaster in Hurricane Maria — the destructive Category 4 storm that made landfall on the southern coast of Puerto Rico at around 6:15 AM EDT last Wednesday, since causing much havoc to the territory.
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EPA Funds Nanotech Firm for Development of Technology to Measure Lead in Household Drinking Water

On September 19, 2017, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was awarding nearly $100,000 in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding to NanoSafe, Inc. in Blacksburg, Virginia to foster technologies that can accurately measure lead levels in household drinking water. SBIR funding is intended to help small, high-tech businesses develop proof of concepts that can be brought to market and commercialized. With more and more attention being focused on the safety of public and private drinking water,
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State Seeks to Enter Court Battle Over Federal Red Snapper Rule

On September 22, 2017, the state of Louisiana sought to intervene in a conservation group’s lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding overfishing of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico this past summer. Louisiana wants to argue on behalf of the federal government that the conservation group’s lawsuit is moot because the rule it challenges has already expired. Earlier this summer, the NMFS issued a temporary rule extending the fishing season for red snapper in federal waters
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Hurricane Irma Presents Different Challenges than Hurricane Harvey in the Wake of Recovery

While the recovery efforts are still unfolding, scientists and environmental experts believe the environmental toll from Hurricane Irma in Florida may not be as harsh as the problems caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The two storms have resulted in hazards that are very different, leading to varied responses to the destruction left by both storms. Wind damage is the primary concern after Hurricane Irma, rather than the widespread flooding seen after Hurricane Harvey. In addition, the areas of Florida
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An Example of Hurricane Harvey’s Aftermath: Energy Company Significantly Underestimates Benzene Emission Levels After Leak

Last week, we wrote about Houston’s long road to recovery from Hurricane Harvey, including the aftermath of the toxic environmental mess that Harvey left. This week, we bring you just one of many examples of environmental headaches that continue to persist following the storm. According to self-reported emissions to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), refineries, petrochemical plants, and other industrial operations emitted some 2.6 million pounds of pollutants into the air during Harvey-related shutdowns and accidents in the
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Hurricane Harvey’s Devastation Will Be Felt Long After Water Recedes

Hurricane Harvey has decimated the great city of Houston, displacing residents from their homes — and in many cases — destroying homes, investments, and in some scenarios, taking the life of a loved one. It will take billions of dollars to repair Harvey’s destruction, and many people will never replace what the hurricane took. Even with that, the event has more bad news. Not only did Harvey destroy property, and in some instances take human life, it also has created
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Taking a “Hard Look”

In August 2017, decades long dispute involving the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Province of Manitoba, North Dakota, and Missouri, arising from a proposed water reclamation project was resolved in Government of the Province of Manitoba, et al. v. Zinke, et al., 2017 WL 3437658 (D.D. C. August 10, 2017). In 1987, the Bureau of Reclamation created the Northwest Area Water Supply Project (NAWS or Project) to respond to water problems in Northcentral and North Western North Dakota. The
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Bankruptcy Court Approves $43 Million Coal Cleanup Deal

On Tuesday, September 5, 2017, a bankruptcy court in Missouri approved a $43 million settlement between the reorganized Peabody Energy Corp., which is a coal producer, and the federal government. The settlement related to CERCLA liability incurred by one of Peabody’s affiliate companies, Gold Fields Mining LLC. Peabody acquired responsibility for Gold Fields’ pollution liability when it gained control of the company in the 1990s.  The federal government had filed proofs of claim in Peabody’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding on
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Woe is Me: EPA Seeks Help Defining WOTUS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) are seeking recommendations from stakeholders and the public in their effort to revise the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The definition and interpretation of WOTUS is critical as it defines the federal government’s regulatory reach (and limits) when it comes to the country’s waterways. On February 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that directed EPA to
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Grapes of Wrath: California State Agency Acts to Further Restrict Use of Chlorpyrifos

On August 18, 2017, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) released an updated draft risk assessment for comments by the public on the popular agricultural pesticide chlorpyrifos. Farmers use chlorpyrifos to kill pests that attack a wide variety of crops including grapes, walnuts, oranges, almonds and cotton grown in California. In 2015, California farmers used more than 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos on more than 60 crops. About 5 million to 10 million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used annually on
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