On June 1, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced it had enacted a rule to limit states’ ability to block the construction of energy infrastructure projects. Under the rule, first proposed in August 2019, the EPA will alter Section 401 of the U.S. Clean Water Act to make it impossible for a state to block a water permit for a project for reasons other than direct impacts of discharges into state waters and set a one-year deadline for a decision. The proposed rule can …Continue Reading
On May 14, 2020, the EPA indicated it will not be imposing any limits on perchlorate, a chemical compound the EPA previously characterized as “a persistent contaminant of concern.” Perchlorate can be man-made or it can form naturally in the atmosphere in arid states in the Southwest U.S., in large deposits of sodium nitrate fertilizer in Chili, and in potash ore in the Northwest and Canada. Manufactured perchlorate is used in rocket propellant, munitions, explosives, fireworks, road flares, and in food containers and equipment that …Continue Reading
As many readers are aware, harmful algal blooms, or HABs, have presented significant concerns for many states with lake regions and communities. HABs occur when algae grows out of control in an area, resultantly producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, marine mammals, and birds. There are a variety of HAB types, as they can be caused by a variety of algal groups with different chemical toxin compositions. The human illnesses caused by HABs, though rare, can be debilitating or even fatal. As a …Continue Reading
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) continues to face backlash over its policy relaxing certain monitoring and reporting obligations under various federal environmental laws amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week nine states’ attorneys general sued the U.S. EPA in the Southern District of New York in the action titled State of New York et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency et al., No. 1:20-cv-03714, in which New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia contend the U.S. EPA’s decision …Continue Reading
The state of California continued its crusade against the Trump Administration this month, filing a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA, challenging the agency’s replacement for the defunct 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS). Sixteen other states joined the lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California. The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) as used in the Clean Water Act has been disputed for …Continue Reading
As the nation continues to navigate its way through the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we wanted to pass along some updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Our blog post from March 19, 2020, remains a good primer on COVID-19 and drinking water, but there are a few updates to provide amid what appears to be an uptick in speculation about the transmission of the virus in sewage.
Two researchers at the …Continue Reading
The Supreme Court issued a landmark CERCLA decision in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian. Most notably, the court held that CERCLA did not deprive Montana state courts of jurisdiction over state law trespass, nuisance, and strict liability claims brought by owners of land within a Superfund site, even where the landowners sought a cleanup that went beyond the remediation plan approved by the EPA. However, the court also held that the landowners were potentially responsible parties under CERCLA, and therefore the landowners’ remediation plan …Continue Reading
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has heard from the parties in a suit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow more widespread applications of dicamba. In 2016, the EPA approved dicamba for a conditional two-year registration. The agency allowed the more widespread use of dicamba, previously considered a volatile herbicide, as long as incidents of the pesticide harming other crops “are not occurring at unacceptable frequencies or levels.” In 2018, despite more than 4,200 official complaints that alleged damage to at least …Continue Reading
Last week, the United States Supreme Court provided additional guidance regarding the application of the Clean Water Act. In short, the Clean Water Act requires the federal government to regulate certain groundwater pollutants that find their way into navigable waters such as oceans, rivers and streams.
The recent Supreme Court opinion has been considered by many to constitute a compromise of opposing positions, as it rejects the Trump Administration’s goals of lesser regulation, but also eliminates a Ninth Circuit court ruling that would have increased permitting requirements related to …Continue Reading
It would be hard to imagine there is anyone in the country who is unaffected, let alone unaware, of the dramatic steps imposed by federal, state, and local governments to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, government restrictions prohibiting the operation of many “non-essential” businesses, bans against large gatherings, “stay at home orders,” and mandatory remote employment have a major impact beyond the obvious immediate economic hardships. They also have caused thousands of buildings and facilities to remain unoccupied or at best occupied …Continue Reading