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 groups, including the Electric Power …

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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 the near and long term …

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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 and films.

During an inspection, …

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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 not meant to be treated. …

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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, and litigation. Yet, subsequent to …

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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, and the state is generally …

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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 quality standards for surface …

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Back to the Drawing Board for Clean Coal

Kemper County Power Generation Facility, the flagship “clean coal” project in rural eastern Mississippi, will rely on natural gas rather than coal to produce electricity. After years of delays and cost overruns totaling over $4 billion over the facility’s original budget of $2.9 billion, the facility’s coal gasifier project has been shuttered.

The Kemper facility had been central to the Obama administration’s energy plan and to the administration’s assertions that it was not anti-coal. However, the worsening situation prompted the Mississippi Public Service Commission to …

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Water Alert — PFAs Detected in North Carolina’s Cape Fear River Raise Immediate Concerns Over Safety of Community’s Drinking Water Supply

On June 20, 2017, the Chemours Company announced that it will now “capture, remove, and safely dispose of wastewater that contains the byproduct GenX,” from North Carolina’s Cape Fear River — a main supply source for the City of Wilmington’s drinking water.

The announcement last week comes on the heels of reports that the EPA is investigating whether Chemours complied with a 2009 order issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that allowed DuPont (from which Chemours was spun-off) to produce GenX in its …

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Slow the Flow? U.S. District Court orders Army Corps of Engineers to Reconsider Environmental Analysis of the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a pipeline built by Energy Transfer Partners to move oil from western North Dakota to Illinois, where it can be shipped to the Gulf Coast and points beyond. The Army Corps of Engineers approved the completion of the DAPL on February 8, 2017. The DAPL began operating June 1, 2017 and has the capacity to move half of North Dakota’s daily oil production.

In the summer of 2016, the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes began efforts to …

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