Recent Endangered Species Act Verdict Reinforces Traditional Legal Principles

Posted By on September 19, 2014

Though the Endangered Species Act has very strong prohibitory language, in practice its bark is sometimes much worse than its bite.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s recent decision in The Aranas Project v. Shaw, et al. has preserved the statute’s status as a mere “paper tiger” by reversing a district court ruling which had the potential to preserve the dwindling wild whooping crane population. (more…)

Jury Verdict Awarded in Hydraulic Fracturing Case

Posted By on September 10, 2014

In a groundbreaking verdict, a Texas jury has awarded damages to a family for injuries suffered due to air pollution from hydraulic fracturing (“hydrofracking”) drilling operations.  This verdict follows almost inexorably from the rise in popularity in the past decade of hydrofracking as a means of natural gas production, which was quickly met with legal challenges.  Between 2009 and 2013, the civil litigation landscape was flooded with lawsuits alleging toxic tort claims stemming from hydrofracking activities.  (more…)

County Water Authority has Standing to Sue for Groundwater Contamination, but Timeliness is Governed by New York’s Three Year Statute of Limitations

Posted By on September 2, 2014

Fixed contaminant standards need not be reached, much less exceeded, in order to cause an injury that courts can recognize. An intermediate appeals court in New York has ruled that the Suffolk County Water Authority may sue chemical companies for groundwater contamination even where the contamination does not exceed an EPA drinking water standard known as a Maximum Contaminant Level. However, this may be a pyrrhic victory, as that same court also ruled that many of the SCWA’s claims were too late under New York’s three-year statute of limitations for injuries from latent effects of exposure to harmful substances.

While the state’s highest court could still weigh in on this case, this decision is a key reminder of the important role that groundwater data plays in determining when a claim for groundwater contamination is timely. (more…)

Sustainability Embraced by Real Estate Investment Industry

Posted By on August 29, 2014

“Sustainability” and “development” do not often go to the dance together, but that may be changing.  Today’s real estate investors are embracing their interconnection, and encouraging environmental social governance (ESG) within the industry.  With the rise in environmental consciousness that has accompanied global climate change, sustainability reporting has become an increasingly important tool for real estate investors who wish to engage in socially responsible investing. (more…)

Albany County Executive Proposes New County Legislation on Crude Oil Spill Reporting

Posted By on August 27, 2014

Could fracking in North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation have a direct impact on New York State? Yes, but the impact isn’t limited to prices at the gas pump or home energy heating bills. Instead, the fracking operations are leading to a surge in freight trains hauling crude oil along the state’s rail lines to a terminal at the port of Albany, New York. Shale formations such as the Bakken produce crude oil along with natural gas during fracking operations, and some claim that Bakken crude may “more dangerous to ship by rail than crude from other areas.” (more…)

New York State to Explore Offshore Wind Power

Posted By on August 21, 2014

Historically a proud leader in environmental protection, New York State is poised to claim a new reason for that title:  New York has emerged a leader in the field of renewable energy.  According to the Energy Information Administration, New York now ranks fourth in the United States for renewable energy generation, and fifth in renewable energy capacity.

Most of the state’s renewable portfolio is made up of hydroelectric power, with smaller contributions from wind, landfill gas, and biomass sources. New York is home to the 2,353-megawatt Robert Moses Niagara hydroelectric power plant, the fourth largest such plant in the nation, and holds the title of greatest producer of hydroelectric power east of the Rocky Mountains.

Now an increase in New York’s use of its wind resources is on the horizon.  (more…)

Yet Another Legal Challenge to the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station Fails

Posted By on August 15, 2014

A marine transfer station operated on the East River at 91st Street for nearly six decades, temporarily storing municipal waste along the East River before loading it onto barges for disposal outside of Manhattan. But in 2004, the New York City announced plans to build a newer, larger MTS on the site as part of a new City-wide Solid Waste Management Plan. The City wanted to move even farther away from its reliance on expensive and environmentally unfriendly truck-based disposal methods, but the proposal for East 91st Street quickly became embroiled in years of litigation.

However, a July 2014 federal court decision just may be the green light the City needs to proceed with the 91st Street MTS. (more…)

Local Fracking Bans Upheld in Dryden and Middlefield Cases

Posted By on August 11, 2014

Proponents and opponents of hydraulic fracturing alike have been waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the Wallach v. Town of Dryden and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield cases.  The wait is over – in late June, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the power of local governments to adopt zoning ordinances which restrict or ban oil and gas operations within their borders. (more…)

EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gases Survives Supreme Court Scrutiny in UARG v. EPA

Posted By on August 6, 2014

In environmental law, things aren’t always what they seem at first blush. Hence, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, 134 S. Ct. 1050 (2014) in June, both industry and EPA claimed victory. Given that the Court struck down EPA’s interpretation of its authority under two specific provisions of the Clean Air Act, how could EPA claim a win?

For more information on the UARG case than you see here, sign up for Periconi, LLC’s forthcoming CLE on August 12, 2014 at Lawline.com. (more…)

Obama Takes Strong Position on Marine Protection

Posted By on July 22, 2014

The United States will soon be home to the largest protected area on the planet, at land or at sea: President Obama has announced his intent to preserve a 782,000-mile stretch of the central Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was created by George W. Bush towards the end of his presidency.  Now, President Obama plans to greatly enlarge this national monument beyond its current 87,000 square mile size.  The waters of this marine monument zone would be off limits from commercial fishing, oil and gas drilling and exploration, and other harmful activities. (more…)