Money roll and judges hammer on wooden table

Environmental and Transportation Regulation Violators Should Expect to Pay More in Civil Penalties in 2024

Both the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency finished 2023 by issuing new rules that increase the maximum civil penalties for violating certain regulations. For the EPA, those regulations include the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and Toxic Substances Control Act. For the DOT, the maximum civil penalty increases affect regulations contained within, among others, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Hazardous Materials Regulations, and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

For a little background as to why this is happening, …

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Oil field with rigs and pumps at sunset. World Oil Industry

Supreme Court Denies Petition for Certiorari in Minnesota’s Climate Case Against Petroleum Leaders

In June 2020, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued ExxonMobil, three Koch entities, and the American Petroleum Institute — (energy companies and affiliates that produce or sell fossil fuels around the world and an industry association) — on behalf of the State of Minnesota, alleging that the defendants knowingly engaged in a “decades-long campaign of deception about the fossil fuel industry’s actual contributions to, and true costs of, climate change.”  The lawsuit includes claims for fraud, failure to warn, and multiple separate violations of state …

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ombustion fumes coming out of car exhaust pipe

EPA Issues Automotive Trends Report, Noting Record Improvements in CO2 Emissions and Fuel Economy

To close out 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued its annual Automotive Trends Report, which provides the public with information about vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, fuel economy, technology data and innovation, and auto manufacturers’ performance in meeting the EPA’s GHG emissions standards. EPA has been collecting this information since 1975.

According to EPA, new vehicle CO2 emissions and fuel economy had the biggest annual improvement of the last nine years, reaching record low CO2 emissions and record high fuel economy. In model …

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Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenges to the EPA “Good Neighbor Plan”

The Environmental Protection Agency, under the Clean Air Act, requires states to work with the EPA to address the interstate transport of air pollution. Under the “Good Neighbor Plan,” the EPA requires each state to implement – as part of its State Implementation Plan – regulations that will reduce emissions, which prevent downward states from attaining or maintaining National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The Act further requires the EPA to backstop any state actions that it does not approve or to develop Federal Implementation Plans …

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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays!

We wanted to take some time to wish all of our subscribers and their families a happy holiday season and all the best in the new year. 2023 has been a busy, active year in the world of environmental law and we appreciate you dropping by our site on a regular basis for emerging issues and up-to-date information. Environmental Law Monitor will return next week with new posts. Once again, happy holidays!…

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States Seek Smackdown of EPA’s Pollution Plan; Like a Good Neighbor, SCOTUS is There

In February 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument on various emergency stay applications addressing whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can implement its “Good Neighbor Plan” (the Plan) to reduce cross-state pollution. The court will focus on whether the Plan unreasonably limits emissions and whether the EPA properly disapproved of alternative state emission-reduction plans.

Opponents argue that the Plan arrogates the states’ authority to control emissions and air pollution. They also assert that its unworkable, confusing emissions standards will force them to …

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detail of white smoke polluted sky

Ethylene Oxide 2023 Year-End Round-Up!

Nearly ten months after settling over 870 Illinois-based Cook County ethylene oxide (EtO) exposure claims for $408 million (covered by ELM here), at the beginning of the final quarter of 2023, Sterigenics, one of the world’s largest commercial sterilizers, along with its parent company Sotera, agreed to settle 79 lawsuits relating to EtO emissions from the Sterigenics sterilizing plant in Cobb County, Georgia, for an estimated $35 million, submitting its settlement proposal to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in late October. Just as …

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Smoke and fumes

EPA Announces Final Rule to Reduce Methane and Combat Climate Change

In recent years, the global concentration of methane present in the atmosphere has increased dramatically. In fact, in 2021, methane increased by almost 18 parts per billion in the atmosphere, the largest single year increase since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s records began in 1984. Last year was no exception, as atmospheric methane increased by 14 parts per billion, the fourth largest recorded increase.

These numbers are significant because methane is known as a “super pollutant” that is many times more potent than carbon …

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Massive California Wild Fire forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes, wildfires spreading rapidly, escaping to save their lives, destroyed silhouette, natural calamity

Another Electrical Utility Settles Wildfire Litigation

As widely reported, including in previous issues of the Environmental Law Monitor, the environmental and financial impacts of wildfires in recent years have been significant. In the aftermath of these events, an ever-increasing number of lawsuits have been filed seeking compensation from entities deemed responsible for the disasters. A common target has been electrical utilities.

In Oregon, where it has been alleged that power lines caused multiple fires during a Labor Day weekend 2020 windstorm, electrical utility PacifiCorp has been the target of multiple …

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Flags - United Nations

COP28 Starts Out with a Bang by Creating a Fund Aimed at Helping Vulnerable Countries

On the first day of the two-week United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, more commonly referred to as COP28, delegates reached a landmark agreement to formerly create a Loss and Damage Fund, a rescue and rehabilitation effort to support especially vulnerable countries dealing with the irreversible and costly effects of climate change.

First suggested in 1991 by the small island nation of Vanuatu, the fund is aimed at encouraging the wealthy and major polluting nations to assist poorer states harmed by …

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