Environmental Law Portal

Welcome to the Beveridge & Diamond Environmental Law Portal.

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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DOT and EPA Release Proposal to Roll Back Obama-era Emissions Standards for Automobiles

On August 2, 2018, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) and the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued two related, proposed rulemakings, which together comprise the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (“SAFE”) Vehicles Rule.  The proposed rule, if adopted, would curb NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (“CAFE”) standards and EPA’s tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks for model years (“MY”) 2021 through 2026 that were issued in 2012.  The proposal also asserts that the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (“EPCA”), which requires NHTSA to set national fuel economy standards for new motor vehicles, preempts any state, including California, from imposing or enforcing its own vehicle fuel economy standard.  Read More ›

Top Environmental Authority in China Proposes Amendment to the Solid Waste Law

On July 11, 2018, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (“MEE”) released a draft proposal to amend the country’s solid waste statute.[1]  Among other changes, the draft proposed to restrict solid waste releases from industrial facilities under the pollutant emission permit program, prohibit all solid waste imports into China, require mandatory contracts between waste generators and third-party handlers, and increase penalties for violations. The deadline for submitting comments to MEE is August 18, 2018. Read More ›

Major Changes to Endangered Species Act Regulations Proposed

On July 25, 2018, the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) and the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) (collectively “the Services”) issued three proposed rules that would modify key aspects of their Endangered Species Act (”ESA”) regulations. The proposals respond in part to stakeholder comments submitted to FWS last year as a result of Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda.” Read More ›

UN to Kick Off Negotiations to Regulate Access to and Require Benefit-Sharing from Marine Genetic Resources in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

This September in New York, UN member states will begin to negotiate a new, binding international instrument to govern the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  Illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and bottom trawling seriously threaten valuable marine biodiversity, particularly around hotspots such as seamounts, deep-water corals, and hydrothermal vents.[1]  The upcoming negotiations of the Intergovernmental Conference will consider how best to regulate and promote the sustainable use of marine biodiversity, potentially including a requirement that some of the benefits of research and development from these resources be shared with developing countries.[2]  

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New York Brings PFOA/S Products Liability Suit, Claiming Natural Resource and Punitive Damages

Content written by Summer Associate Leigh S. Barton and edited by Eric Klein and Graham Zorn.

In a recently filed action, the State of New York is suing six manufacturers and marketers of of perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (“PFOS”) containing firefighting foams under theories of strict product liability, public nuisance, and restitution. Complaint, New York v. 3M Co., No. 904029-18 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 19, 2018). This is the first example of sovereign-led PFOA/PFOS litigation. Read More ›

New York Court Grants Class Cert. to PFOA Exposure Plaintiffs

Content written by Summer Associate Leigh S. Barton and edited by Eric Klein and Graham Zorn.

In the latest in a flurry of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) suits, a New York court granted class certification to a group of New York residents who claim that they have been harmed by decades of exposure to the chemical near a manufacturing facility.  See Burdick v. Tonoga, Inc., Index No. 253835 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2018).  The court found that although each resident might have been exposed to different levels of the contaminant and may have been exposed in different ways, plaintiffs had demonstrated that there were common issues of fact and law among them that warranted class certification. Read More ›

Certification Denied in Glass Manufacturing Pollution Class Action

In a potential sign of increased scrutiny of environmental class actions under recent Supreme Court decisions, a class of property owners and residents near Danville, Kentucky, were denied class certification in a class action suit alleging that a glass manufacturing plant intentionally or negligently released toxic chemicals.  See Modern Holdings, LLC v. Corning, Inc., Civ. No. 13-0405, Memorandum Opinion and Order (E.D. Ky. Mar. 29, 2018).  The plaintiffs claimed personal injuries and property damage from the plant’s alleged illegal dumping of hazardous chemicals in nearby fields, streams, and properties. Read More ›

Florida Federal Court Denies Proposed 60-Square-Mile Class Area in Environmental Contamination Action

A Florida federal district court recently denied a petition for class certification by a group of property owners that allegedly suffered health risks and diminished property values due to contamination at Pratt & Whitney’s neighboring aerospace testing and manufacturing plant.  Cotromano v. United Techs. Corp., Civ. No. 13-80928, Opinion Memorandum and Order (S.D. Fla. May 2, 2018).  The district court decision illustrates some of the issues of proof that a putative class encompassing a large geographic area may encounter. Read More ›

Groundwater Contamination Claim Survives Motion to Dismiss

A recent decision of the Eastern District of New York in a groundwater contamination action illustrates the fact-sensitive nature of statute of limitations defenses.  In Hicksville Water Dist. v. Philips Elecs. N. Am. Corp., 2018 WL 1542670 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 29, 2018), the court denied a motion to dismiss state tort law claims as time-barred because it could not conclude from the complaint and judicially noticed documents that the plaintiffs knew, outside the limitations window, that the alleged groundwater contamination was “significant enough to justify an immediate or specific remediation effort.” Read More ›

Texas Supreme Court Clarifies Applicability of Discovery Rule in Personal Injury Suits

Applying the statute of limitations for legal, rather than discoverable, personal injury, the Texas Supreme Court dismissed a personal injury suit against Schlumberger Technology Corporation that arose from the mishandling of fracking liquids.  Schlumberger Tech. Corp. v. Pasko, 544 S.W.3d 830 (Tex. 2018). Read More ›