Navigating Landowners through the Brownfields

The EPA recently updated its vintage standard guidance on CERCLA’s landowner defenses. This was the first update since 2003. The update was explained as an effort to provide clarity. Historically, under CERCLA, the owner or operator of a contaminated property could be held strictly, jointly, severally and even retroactively liable for releases of hazardous substances. The three statutory liability defenses available under the 2002 Brownfields Amendments to CERCLA provide important liability limitations for landowners who qualify as: 1. Bona fide
Continue reading...

Employing New Technology to Clean Up an Old Site

Cleanup work has resumed at a former chemical plant in central Michigan that’s become one of the country’s costliest Superfund sites. However, these efforts come with a new twist. The EPA plans to test a new method to remove soil contaminants in floodplains downstream from a former chemical plant in central Michigan with hopes that it could save millions of dollars on the costs of this ongoing cleanup. Velsicol Chemical Corp. (formerly Michigan Chemical Corp.) produced various chemical compounds and
Continue reading...

Wolverine State Moves Toward Regulation of GenX

Michigan could be the first state in the nation to establish maximum contaminant levels for the chemical, GenX. This comes after a Science Advisory Workgroup, made up of three environmental and health experts, listed GenX among seven chemicals deserving of regulation in the state’s drinking water in late June. Although it gained notoriety for contaminating the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, GenX is not among chemicals currently regulated by the EPA, leaving beleaguered states to step up and set
Continue reading...

Another Study Finds Popular Cereals and Snack Products Contain Traces of Glyphosate

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) – a consumer products testing and environmental advocacy organization – recently commissioned a new round of laboratory tests that it claims detected traces of glyphosate in various popular cereals and snack food. Glyphosate purportedly was in these foods because it is used in herbicides applied to various source crops, such as grains and corn. In total, 21 oat-based food products were tested and all but four contained trace levels of glyphosate. The highest levels of
Continue reading...

WOTUS Woes – Federal Judge Remands Obama-Era CWA Rule

Last week, a federal district judge in Texas remanded the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule to the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (US ACE), citing the agencies’ failure to use proper procedure when publishing the rule. ​The 2015 rule, generally referred to as WOTUS, allowed for a drastic increase to the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA), in part, by defining “waters of the United States” to include waters adjacent to waters that had traditionally been considered covered by the CWA.
Continue reading...

New Analysis of Public Data Highlights Emerging Contaminant Prevalence in New York

Just this week, the New York Public Interest Research Group released a report that analyzes an array of public federal data pertaining to unregulated emerging contaminants and their prevalence in New York State. The report is noteworthy for its study of more than 20 different emerging contaminants impacting the state. The report, titled “What’s in My Water?”, clearly notes that the mere existence of emerging contaminants does not necessarily mean that the public’s health is at risk. However, the report
Continue reading...

Oh, Nuts… California to Enact Ban on Use of Chlorpyrifos

Earlier this month, California state officials announced plans to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used farm pesticide on crops such as oranges, grapes, and almonds. Chlorpyrifos is still approved for those uses by the EPA. The current EPA administration has been defending the chemical against court challenges after the Obama administration took steps to prohibit its use. In April, chlorpyrifos was formally listed by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) as a “toxic air contaminant,” which California law defines as “an
Continue reading...

Pincer Move? State AGs Employ Two-Pronged Attack on U.S. EPA Over Landfill Emissions

A multistate coalition of Attorneys General, including California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont; and the California Air Resources Board, joined to file comments demanding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdraw its proposed rule delaying by four years implementation of a regulation that would reduce emissions from landfills. The regulation at issue, known formally as the 2016 Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfill, was designed to reduce landfill emissions
Continue reading...

Environmental Groups Urge Illinois State Legislature to Take Action Regarding Coal Ash Ponds

A report, authored by the Environmental Integrity Project, Earth justice, Prairie Rivers Network, and the Sierra Club, found that groundwater near 90 percent of reporting Illinois coal ash sites contain toxic pollutants like arsenic, cobalt, and lithium. The report’s results are based on data sets made public for the first time earlier this year as part of new federal regulations of coal ash, a toxic byproduct of coal-fired power generation that is commonly stored in unlined ponds or landfills near
Continue reading...

Tall Drink of Wastewater: EPA Considers Permitting Wastewater Disposal Into Texas Rivers and Streams

For every barrel of oil drilled in Texas, four-to-five barrels of wastewater are produced. The abundance of untreated water has led the EPA to consider whether to permit oil drillers in Texas to discharge wastewater directly into local rivers and streams, avoiding the complicated and costly process of trucking the water to underground wells that may be many miles away. If put into effect, this plan would alter established federal clean water regulations that have been in place for decades.
Continue reading...