On Monday, May 16, 2016, on the Court’s own motion, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a Per Curiam Order delaying oral argument in the Clean Power Plan legal challenge from June 2, 2016 to September 27, 2016. The Order also states that the case will be heard en banc (before the full court).

On Friday, May 13, 2016, EPA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would subject site remediation activities under CERCLA and RCRA to Clean Air Act hazardous air pollutant requirements. Comments on the proposal are due by Monday, June 27, 2016.
Continue Reading EPA Proposes New Clean Air Act Requirements for Previously Exempt Site Remediation Activities

When a species is listed as threatened or endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) then designates the critical habitat to be protected for that species. Critical habitat is the specific areas that contain the features essential to the conservation of the listed species.
Continue Reading No Critical Habitat to be Designated for Northern Long-Eared Bat

In May 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed changes to the regulations for listing petitions.   Many industry groups supported the changes, because they clarified the standards for listing petitions, the documentation required in those petitions, and coordination with state wildlife agencies.  The Services took public comment on the proposed regulations and, on April 21, 2016, have issued proposed revisions to their original proposal.  Many of these revisions roll back the original proposed changes.
Continue Reading Revisions to Proposed Regulations for ESA Listing Petitions Out for Comment

On March 31, 2016, federal Judge Sharon Gleason sentenced the former Chief Operating Officer for mining company XS Platinum to one year in jail for his role in discharging pollutants in violation of the Platinum Creek Mine (Alaska) NPDES permit. The COO – James Slade – was convicted of one misdemeanor and one felony CWA violation for his role in allowing excess pollutants from mining discharges to enter the Platinum Creek and Salmon River.  The court noted that state agencies had issued two previous warnings to stop the pollution.
Continue Reading Corporate Officer Sentenced to Jail for Clean Water Act Violations

Today the White House is hosting a summit on sustainable water from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The event coincides with “World Water Day.” The summit is intended to raise awareness of water’s national importance, and to highlight commitments and announcements made to ensure future water sustainability. Nearly 200 experts from interests including industry, utilities,

In a victory for common sense, the North Carolina Court of Appeals rejected a landowner’s attempt to recover $1.4 million in damages for environmental cleanup costs for a property that would only have had a value of $108,500 in the absence of the contamination – given that the landowner had no legal obligation to clean up the contamination. BSK Enterprises, Inc. v. Beroth Oil Co., No. COA15-189 (N.C. Ct. App. March 2, 2016). The Court of Appeals concluded “where the cost of remediation greatly exceeds or is disproportionate to the diminution in value of the property, the measure of damages should be the diminution in value cause by the contamination.” The link to the opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading N.C. Court of Appeals Limits Windfall Awards From Environmental Contamination

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed revisions to its Mitigation Policy on March 8, 2016. This policy was last updated in 1981.  The Policy guides FWS on appropriate mitigation for adverse impacts of proposed actions on fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats.   FWS initiated the revisions to the Policy to reflect changes in conservation challenges and practices since 1981, including accelerating loss of habitats, effects of climate change, and advances in conservation science.   The proposed revisions aim to apply a landscape-scale approach to achieve a net gain in conservation outcomes, or at a minimum, no net loss of resources and their values, services, and functions resulting from proposed actions.  The net gain goal is consistent with a November 2015 Presidential Memorandum on Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Private Investment, which requires that all federal mitigation policies clearly set forth a net benefit goal or, at a minimum, a no net loss goal for natural resources, wherever doing so is allowed by existing statutory authority and is consistent with agency mission and established natural resource objectives.
Continue Reading FWS Proposes Revisions to Mitigation Policy, Including Net Benefit Goal

Sean Sullivan, an Environmental and Natural Resources Partner in Raleigh, NC, was part of the presenting faculty for the 2016 North Carolina Chamber’s 2016 Environmental Compliance Conference in Durham, NC on January 28th, 2016. Sean discussed Environmental Health and Safety Programs, including covering the EPA’s and the Department of Justice’s expectations for effective compliance programs, how an effective compliance program can help avoid criminal enforcement, and the renewed focus on holding individual wrongdoers accountable.
Continue Reading Partner Sean Sullivan Presents at the North Carolina Chamber’s 2016 Environmental Compliance Conference