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…)

Sellers Beware: Unauthorized Petroleum Tank Repair Ruled a Breach of Environmental Warranty

Posted By on July 15, 2014

Everyone’s heard of the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for,” but Sunoco, Inc. might be ready to coin a new phase, “Be careful what you warrant.”

In 2009, Sunoco, Inc. sold an Oneida County-based Marcy Terminal to Superior US Holdings, Inc. Given that it was an oil terminal with 400,000 gallons or more of storage capacity, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation classified the Marcy Terminal as a “Major Oil Storage Facility,” and subjected it to strict regulation. Accordingly, Sunoco agreed to sign an Environmental Agreement as part of the sale, in which it warranted that the terminal was “in compliance with all applicable environmental laws,” including its environmental permits and licenses.

The only problem was that the terminal wasn’t in compliance. (more…)

Former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company is NYC’s Newest Federal Superfund Site

Posted By on July 1, 2014

New Yorkers like to think their city is the biggest and baddest, and now there’s another reason for those sobriquets: last month, the former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site – less than 1,000 feet from a public middle school and a private day care center– earned the title of most radioactive site in New York City today, and became the second radioactive site in New York City in the Superfund program’s history.  On May 8, 2014, EPA listed the 3/4-acre property located at Irving Avenue and Cooper Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens, as a federal Superfund site.  This is the third active federal Superfund site in New York City.  (more…)

Largest Environmental Settlement in History Reached in Kerr-McGee Case

Posted By on June 27, 2014

In a triumph of environmental responsibility and justice over corporate attempts to disclaim environmental liabilities, the former Kerr-McGee Corporation has been ordered to clean up after itself. (more…)

Key Limits Imposed on State Authority to Order RCRA Corrective Action Under a Treatment, Storage or Disposal Facility Permit

Posted By on June 13, 2014

Can a party who is not the holder of a certain environmental permit be required to perform the obligations set out in that permit? The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation thought so, and argued as much in the case of a property owner who had purchased land where a hazardous waste storage facility had operated years earlier. The purchaser, Thompson Corners, LLC, had never held a permit to operate the facility, which had closed years before the purchase, and was never required to obtain one. (more…)

Supreme Court Broadly Construes EPA’s Clean Air Act Authority

Posted By on June 9, 2014

Confounding its critics for the seeming intrusion of politics into all of its decisions, on April 29, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the EPA v. EME Homer City Generation and American Lung Assn. v. EME Homer City Generation matters.  In a 6-to-2 decision, the Court ruled to uphold EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which requires increased emissions reductions from 27 continental upwind states.  This is a major victory for EPA, and reinforces its authority to act under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) to combat climate change.  (more…)

Expanded Clean Water Act Jurisdiction could be Coming ‘Round the River Bend

Posted By on June 2, 2014

How easily can a significant expansion in jurisdiction be called just a “clarification” of existing jurisdiction? On April 21, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers published a proposed rule that promises to significantly change federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. While EPA Administrator Gina McCarty has described the proposed rule as merely a clarification of existing EPA authority, if finalized, it will likely expand CWA permit requirements to include minor tributaries and even seasonal waters such as vernal pools as “waters of the United States.” (more…)

Court Determines that All Remediation at a Superfund Site Constitutes One “Remedial Action”

Posted By on April 23, 2014

How many remediation angels can dance on a single remediation pinhead? In the recent NL Industries v. ACF Industries ruling, a federal judge in the Western District of New York decided that, for the purposes of CERCLA cost recovery and declaratory judgment claims, all actions taken to clean up a Superfund site constitute one set of remedial actions, regardless of the number of “operable units” the site is divided into during the remediation.  (more…)

New Rules Governing Hazardous Waste Storage in New York City are Coming Into Effect: Will Your Facility be Ready?

Posted By on April 16, 2014

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Council passed a flurry of laws designed to increase the resiliency of the City during future storm events. One of these laws, Local Law 143, requires operators of facilities that store hazardous substances to file additional information with the City under the Community Right to Know Program. Local Law 143, together with related amendments to the New York City Administrative Code, became effective March 30, 2014 and may change what your facility needs to report for 2015 reporting year. Will your facility be ready to comply with the new requirements? (more…)

Supreme Court Declines to Weigh in on CERCLA Subrogation Case

Posted By on April 8, 2014

Sometimes the Supreme Court’s silence can be just as powerful as a decision.  Or as James Joyce said about “absence” – it’s the “highest form of presence.” (more…)