“How am I doing?” — The Preliminary Hurricane Scorecard for the EPA

The EPA maintains that it is working with local, state, and federal officials to respond to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria. With all three hurricanes, the EPA maintains that its role is to assess and assist with drinking water and waste water systems, Superfund sites, and flood waters.

Christine Todd Whitman, former EPA Administrator, recently interviewed by Bloomberg News claimed that vacancies at the top of nearly all 10 regional EPA offices will likely hamper EPA’s response to Hurricane Harvey. Whitman said that …

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The Pollution Exclusion Continues to be Examined Nationwide

The following two recent cases decided by the United States Court of Appeals from the Eighth and Fifth Circuits impact the analysis and application of the pollution exclusion nationwide.

Pollution Exclusion: Carbon Monoxide A Pollutant

The Eighth Circuit case of Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America v. Christopher A. Klick, No. 16-4000 (August 14, 2017), in the context of carbon monoxide poisoning exposure, held that the pollution exclusion applied and that the policies did not cover the injuries sustained. Even in light of the …

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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. As late as September 23, …

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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, simple, inexpensive and accurate measurement …

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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 in the Gulf of Mexico …

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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 that are experiencing flooding likely …

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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 Houston area.

And in one …

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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 a toxic environmental nightmare.

Houston’s …

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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 Project called for piping …

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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 behalf of seven Native American …

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