Environmental Law Portal

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Beveridge & Diamond’s 100 lawyers in seven U.S. offices focus on environmental and natural resource law, litigation and dispute resolution. We help clients around the world resolve critical environmental and sustainability issues relating to their products, facilities, and operations. 

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SEC Conflict Minerals Rule Faces New Scrutiny Ahead of May Filing Deadline

A flurry of activity on conflict minerals in recent weeks has added new uncertainty to the long-simmering debate over the future of U.S. conflict minerals reporting requirements. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced plans to reconsider its 2012 rule implementing Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act and requested public comments on all aspects of the rule.  President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a Presidential memorandum that could waive the SEC conflict minerals rule for up to two years based on national security interests. In what may be a step toward considering new approaches to addressing the responsible sourcing of minerals in the region, the State Department issued a broad request for stakeholder input to inform “recommendations.”  Read More ›

The Congressional Review Act: Congress Dusts Off an Old Oversight Weapon

One of the great powers that Congress has to undo changes made by a prior administration is the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which was enacted in 1996.  As of March 17, 2017, this Congress has used the CRA to overturn more agency rulemakings than any Congress before it.  Many more regulations are on the potential chopping block; a lot of them address environmental, energy, and natural resources issues.  With this whirlwind of activity under the CRA, it is vital for the regulated community to stay informed of congressional action in this realm. Read More ›

Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits – Some New, Some Modified – Take Effect

On March 19, 2017, the latest iterations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ nationwide permits (NWPs) will take effect.  As set forth in the Corps’ final rule announcing these NWPs, the 2017 package contains 52 permits, many of which are being reissued from the permits currently in place, along with General Conditions, Definitions, and decision-making directions for Corps district engineers.  The NWP Program is a streamlined permitting process that authorizes certain categories of activities that have minimal individual and cumulative impact to wetlands and other waters of the United States subject to a pre-determined set of General Conditions.  Any parties that operate under such NWPs should review the modifications to determine whether their future permitting options might be affected, and seek legal counsel as needed.  The new set of NWPs will be valid for five years, expiring on March 18, 2022. Read More ›

EPA Stays RMP Rule Amendments and Grants Petition for Reconsideration

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stayed the implementation of a significant revision of the Risk Management Program (RMP) rule pending the receipt of additional comments. Simultaneously, EPA has granted a request for a motion for reconsideration filed by several trade associations whose industry members would be affected by the rule changes, setting up the possibility that EPA will significantly amend the rule or rescind the rule amendment package. Read More ›

Maryland 2017 Environmental Legislative Agenda Set

March 6 marked the final day for the introduction of bills in the Maryland General Assembly without a rules suspension. Below are highlights of environmental or related public health bills under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly.  A number of bills reflect national trends, such as expanded restrictions on flame retardants, mercury and lead in products, and the curbing of antibiotic use (in farming) to maintain antibiotic effectiveness.  Others reflect ongoing policy debates in Maryland, such as regarding whether and how to allow natural gas production by hydraulic fracturing, and how to reduce the contribution of nutrients to surface water from septic systems. Read More ›

EPA Issues Guidance for Characterization and Remediation of Contaminated Sediment Sites Under CERCLA

In a Directive sent to Regional Administrators on January 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Office of Land and Emergency Management has identified eleven recommendations intended to facilitate the development, evaluation, selection and implementation of response actions at contaminated sediment sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). The Directive supplements, but does not supersede, EPA’s previous sediment site guidance documents issued in 2002 and 2005, and draws upon EPA’s experience at dozens of contaminated sediment sites – among the most complex and expensive environmental cleanups in the nation – to highlight the importance of risk reduction and adaptive management strategies in achieving remedial goals.  EPA stresses its importance at sites with bioaccumulative contaminants where a response action is warranted in part because of risk to human health from consumption of fish or shellfish (i.e., PCBs, dioxins and furans, or methyl mercury). Read More ›

Introducing Our California Environmental Tracker

The San Francisco Office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. is pleased to announce a new series of articles dedicated to developments in California environmental law. California has long been a driver of environmental policy, often setting demanding regulatory standards and leveraging its mammoth market share to compel national compliance. Read More ›

California Court Blocks Local Measure Banning Ground Application of Biosolids

In a victory for municipalities that recycle biosolids to farmland, Los Angeles’ sanitation district prevailed in its suit against a Kern County initiative banning land application of biosolids. See County Sanitation Dist. No. 2 of Los Angeles County, et al. v. Kern County, 2016 WL 7175653 (Tulare Co. Super. Ct. Nov. 28, 2016).  Defendant Kern County approved Measure E on June 6, 2006, prohibiting the land application of biosolids (treated municipal wastewater sludge) in unincorporated Kern County.  After a two-week bench trial, the Superior Court for Tulare County invalidated Kern County's ban on the grounds that the county had exceeded its police power and the ban was preempted by state law. Read More ›

Applying Product Liability Theory, Washington State Sues for PCB Damages

In an effort to use product liability theories to hold manufacturers culpable for environmental releases, the Attorney General of Washington State sued PCB manufacturer Monsanto in state court in December.  See Complaint, Washington v. Monsanto, No. 16-2-29591-6 (King Co. Super. Ct. Dec. 16, 2016).  The suit is the first to apply product liability theories honed in more than a decade of MTBE litigation to allegations of statewide PCB contamination in waterways. Read More ›

Statute of Repose Bars Maryland Claims Arising From Exposure to Contaminated Fill

Exemplifying the power of the statute of repose as a defense to claims based on decades-old conduct under Maryland law, the Fourth Circuit held that claims stemming from hazardous improvements to real property were barred by the state’s 20-year statute of repose.  See Leichling v. Honeywell Int’l, Inc., 842 F.3d 848 (4th Cir. 2016). Read More ›