Trouble in Paradise: Honolulu Brings Climate Change Lawsuit Against Fossil Fuel Companies

Last week, the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii filed a lawsuit against major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, alleging they knew the negative effects their products would cause via climate change but obscured the information from public knowledge in order to reap greater profits. According to the complaint, the fossil fuel companies worsened the climate crisis by undermining climate science and delaying a transition to clean energy.

According to the lawsuit, the fossil fuel companies’ actions have resulted in sea level rise that …

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Clean Water Act Alert – U.S. EPA Releases Its Proposed 2020 NPDES Multi-Sector General Permit

The regulated industry needs to be aware that the U.S. EPA, last week, published its proposed 2020 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). The MSGP authorizes stormwater discharges associated with industrial activities in areas where EPA is the permitting authority.

Under Section 402(p) of the Clean Water Act, EPA has been directed to regulate stormwater discharges under the NPDES program–the program by which EPA and authorized states grant permits for discharges from a point source. The MSGP is a general NPDES …

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Butt Out – Illinois EPA Looking at Improper Disposal of Vaping Products

While the recent focus on electronic cigarettes and vaping products has been on their potential health effects on users, the Illinois EPA is looking at a potential new issue – the improper disposal of their waste products.

A team at the Illinois EPA is developing methods to prevent toxic materials in discarded e-cigarettes and vaping products from polluting the environment and damaging human health. E-cigarettes and vaping products contain numerous materials, each with various waste regulations. E-cigarettes, which are disposable and closely resemble a traditional …

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Trump Administration: Environmental (Budget) Impact Assessment

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year 2021 Budget requests. As it has in previous years, the administration has proposed steep cuts in funding for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would also see their budgets trimmed. Although the current Congress is unlikely to agree to such broad-sweeping cuts, the White House’s proposed budget requests provide a strong indicator of the Trump Administration’s priorities. 

The Cuts:

Overall, …

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Paper or Plastic: Why This Should No Longer be an Option

Across the United States, local governments and state legislatures have focused their efforts on reducing and/or eliminating the use of plastic bags at grocery stores and other businesses. Such a reduction is significant to reducing harmful impacts suffered in oceans, lakes, rivers, forests, and other natural habitats for creatures. Furthermore, the implementation of regulations and bans prohibiting the use and sale of plastic bags focuses on improvements in recycling efforts, which is aimed to increase awareness of the negative side effects of the prevalent use …

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Empire State’s Renewable Energy Project Siting Bill: A Different Kind of Regulatory Cleanup

Many efforts in environmental law aim at enacting regulations to help clean up the environment. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo submitted a bill that flips the script last week. The proposed law aims to clean up New York’s regulations about siting for and permitting  renewable energy projects.

Under the proposed law, a new office would be created within the state’s Department of Economic Development tasked with overseeing siting and permitting for renewable energy projects. Environmental reviews for such projects would also be the new office’s …

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Clean Air Act Alert: Coalition of Northeastern States Sue EPA over Good Neighbor Violations

Five states and the City of New York filed suit last week against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Southern District of New York alleging the agency failed to protect the states from ozone pollution traveling downwind, in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The coalition of states, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts, and the City of New York, are seeking an order that requires the EPA to create a plan to limit ozone emissions carried into the states from certain upwind states, including Illinois, …

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Millions for Peaches: Peach Farmers Awarded $265 Million in Dicamba Lawsuit

A southeast Missouri jury has awarded a peach farm $265 million in damages after a three-week trial in federal court. The lawsuit, filed by Bader Farms, alleged Monsanto and BASF are to blame for extensive damage to its peach farm because their dicamba-based herbicides drifted onto its orchards from neighboring fields.

Bader Farms’ attorney argued that the companies created a joint venture, and “conspired to create an ecological disaster” to increase profits on dicamba-tolerant seeds. Monsanto and BASF denied those allegations and claimed that the …

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When Too Much Is Too Much: EPA Declines Further Regulation Over Chemical Manufacturers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, signed a proposed rule under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to not impose financial responsibility requirements for facilities in the chemical manufacturing industry on Feb. 10, 2020. A number of environmental advocacy groups spurred this action in August 2014 when they filed a writ of mandamus in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking financial responsibility rules in this industry and others.

Section 108(b) of CERCLA addresses the promulgation …

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Environmental Groups Send Notice of Intent Seeking Action on Aircraft Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Three environmental organizations submitted a notice of intent to file suit to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2020 for its failure to act on greenhouse gas emissions from aircrafts. In a joint letter to the EPA’s administrator and director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, the three groups–Center for Biological Diversity, Earth justice, and Friends of the Earth–argue that the EPA’s failure to promulgate standards on greenhouse gas emissions constitutes unreasonable delay under the Clean Air Act. The groups …

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