Posted By Jessica Zalin on February 12, 2014
Love Canal, New York; Cuyahoga River, Ohio; Times Beach, Missouri; Hopewell, Virginia; Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania. These are the sites of some of the worst environmental contamination in our nation’s history. Each of these disasters drew significant public attention, and incited the political will to confront similar environmental hazards more systematically. (more…)
Posted By Jessica Zalin on February 12, 2014
For much of West Virginia, the start of the New Year brought anything but “good tidings.”
On January 9, 2014, approximately 10,000 gallons of the hazardous chemical substance 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (“MCHM”) leaked from a storage tank and flowed into the Elk River. (more…)
Posted By Jessica Zalin on January 15, 2014
Have you been in the market to buy property, but learned that the property was contaminated? There are steps that you can take to avoid opening yourself up to liability. (more…)
Posted By Jessica Zalin on December 27, 2013
Go to the head of the class if you know the difference between CAFE standards and CAFO standards: in January of 2011, new corporate average fuel economy (“CAFE”) standards went into effect, requiring all automobile manufacturers to curb the amount of greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) emitted from the tailpipes of Model Year 2012 cars. (more…)
Posted By Jessica Zalin on November 27, 2013
Have you ever wondered what you can do to reduce fines for environmental violations that you suspect you may have, but you live in fear of an environmental enforcement action that hammers you for it?
You may be able to avoid some of the pain by simply telling the government about the violation yourself, under a new state Environmental Audit Incentive Policy. (more…)
Posted By Matthew Jokajtys on October 14, 2013
In a highly unusual move, the New York Court of Appeals has decided to hear an appeal despite an intermediate appeals court’s unanimous ruling. It was no surprise that Norse Energy Corp. USA appealed that lower court ruling upholding the right of New York municipalities to regulate fracking through local land use laws. But court watchers in general, as well as fracking followers, were surprised by the high court’s ruling, are looking forward to that court’s ruling in Matter of Norse Energy Corp. USA, v. Town of Dryden et al., APL-2013-00245, that will offer the most authoritative state-level ruling possible on the fate of fracking in New York State. (more…)
Posted By Matthew Jokajtys on October 7, 2013
Here’s a pop quiz: after an eleven week trial in federal court, a jury hands down a verdict of nearly $105 million against ExxonMobil for contaminating New York City’s drinking water. On appeal, the verdict is upheld. What environmental law enabled the jury to find, and the appellate court to affirm, such a large verdict? The Superfund Law? The Clean Water Act? The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act?
If you guessed any of the above, you’d be wrong. (more…)
Posted By Matthew Jokajtys on September 23, 2013
The health threats posed by physical contact with contaminated soil or groundwater are well known. But increasingly, state and federal regulators are recognizing that harmful vapors from such contamination can be drawn into nearby buildings and pose a threat to the occupants. Known as soil vapor intrusion, this threat can come from undiscovered contamination beneath a building, or even from the remnants of previously remediated soil or groundwater.
In New York State alone, the Department of Environmental Conservation has “reopened” many sites in the past few years that had previously been considered completely remediated, and required new investigations into possible soil vapor intrusion threats. The growing concern over soil vapor intrusion has recently led the United States Environmental Protection Agency to endorse a significant change to the standard protocol for Phase I environmental site assessments, and it will have ramifications for many prospective purchasers around the country. (more…)
Posted By Matthew Jokajtys on September 19, 2013
In a move that has made industry insiders “ecstatic,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed a final rule on July 22, 2013 which will exclude certain solvent-contaminated industrial rags or wipes from regulation under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The new rule excludes solvent-contaminated reusable wipes from regulation as solid waste (40 CFR 261.4(a)), and excludes solvent-contaminated disposable wipes from regulation as hazardous waste (40 CFR 261.4(b)(18)) under RCRA.
EPA estimates that the new exclusions will save between $21.7 and $27.8 million per year, and will affect nearly 95,000 facilities in 13 different economic subsectors, including the chemical and allied product manufacturing facilities, solid waste management facilities and industrial laundries. But the more important effect, in our view, is that it removes one of the irrationalities of the RCRA program, namely, tagging commonly used materials as a “waste” when they’re on their way to being cleaned and recycled. (more…)
Posted By Matthew Jokajtys on August 8, 2013
After the cap and trade program died in Congress in 2009, and the successor to the Kyoto Protocol never appeared at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, climate change stagnated on the national agenda of the United States. With a hyper-partisan Congress, it became apparent that the political will to address climate change through the legislature simply did not exist. However, in June of 2013, President Obama introduced a roadmap for climate action that sought to address climate change while sidestepping congressional involvement entirely.
Dubbed The President’s Climate Action Plan, the Plan describes itself as “a blueprint for steady, responsible national and international action to slow the effects of climate change so we leave a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations.” It consists of three main pillars of action that the executive branch can take without relying on a recalcitrant Congress. The three main pillars are: (1) cut carbon pollution in America; (2) prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change; and (3) lead international efforts to address global climate change.
So what does the President’s plan mean for New York City? (more…)