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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New Application Process Takes Effect for New York Brownfield Cleanup Program, Additional Regulations Pending

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has announced that as of July 1, 2015, the reformed New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) became effective.  NYSDEC transitioned to a new application form and application guidance as of July 1, incorporating new eligibility criteria under the BCP reforms.  A property’s eligibility for the BCP is now based on the presence of contaminants above New York’s Soil Cleanup Objectives (SCOs) or other applicable standards, criteria, or guidance.  This replaces the BCP’s former eligibility determination based on the potential complication of reuse or redevelopment by the actual or reasonably suspected presence of contaminants.  Read More ›

TSCA Reform Nears Enactment with Easy Passage in the House

The House of Representatives passed the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576) on June 23, 2015 by a vote of 398 to 1, indicating that the long-awaited overhaul to the federal chemicals management law may be just around the corner. Among other updates to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the House bill would require EPA to initiate risk evaluations of chemicals in commerce and adopt regulations if a chemical presents an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment under the intended conditions of use. In addition, the bill would expand EPA’s authority to require testing by manufacturers, adjust provisions protecting confidential business information, create the TSCA Service Fee Fund in the U.S. Treasury, and preempt state law where EPA issues a new rule or makes an “unreasonable risk” determination. [1] Read More ›

Texas Supreme Court Rules that CERCLA PRP Letters and Enforcement Proceedings Are “Suits” Subject to the Duty to Defend Under Standard CGL Insurance Policies

On June 26, 2015, the Texas Supreme Court held that enforcement proceedings under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (“CERCLA”)—including the issuance of a “PRP letter” notifying the recipient that it is a potentially responsible party—constitute a “suit” subject to the duty to defend under standard commercial general liability insurance policies, joining the substantial majority of courts that have considered the issue. McGinnes Indus. Maint. Corp. v. Phoenix Ins. Co., No. 14-0465 (Tex. June 26, 2015). Read More ›

China’s Top Court Clarifies Environmental Tort Liability Standards

On June 1, 2015, China’s Supreme People’s Court (“SPC”) issued an interpretation, The SPC Interpretation on Several Questions Concerning Applicable Law in the Adjudication of Environmental Tort Liability Dispute Cases (“Interpretation”),[1] clarifying key principles in environmental tort cases.  The Interpretation became effective on June 3, 2015 and governs certain civil lawsuits with underlying claims stemming from environmental pollution and ecological damage.[2]  The Interpretation reflects the SPC’s most recent effort to unify standards for Chinese courts to adjudicate environmental tort claims from several widely applicable statutes.  The key elements of the Interpretation are set forth below. Read More ›

New York Finalizes Updates to Regulation of Hazardous Air Pollutants

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) recently finalized amendments to  several regulations primarily concerning hazardous air pollutants.  NYSDEC repealed and replaced 6 NYCRR Part 212, Process Operations, the primary vehicle thought which NYSDEC regulates such pollutants.  Changes have also been made to 6 NYCRR Part 200, General Provisions, to establish consistent terminology between the two provisions. The new regulations became effective on June 14. Read More ›

Beveridge & Diamond Congratulates Scott Fulton on His Selection as the Environmental Law Institute’s Next President

“Today the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) – an organization Beveridge & Diamond has long been proud to support in many ways – announced the good news that its Board of Directors has elected Scott Fulton as ELI’s next President.  Scott, who joined Beveridge & Diamond after serving for over 22 years in various U.S. government roles, will leave Beveridge & Diamond and start his position at ELI in September 2015. Read More ›

China Proposes “RoHS 2” Framework for Comment

On May 15, 2015, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
(“MIIT”) released a latest Draft for Comments (“May 2015 Draft”) of the “Management
Methods for the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and
Electronic Products
” (“Methods”) (Draft for Comments in Chinese). The new
Methods is designed to replace the existing regime, promulgated in 2006
and commonly referred to as “China RoHS.” The May 2015 Draft is now open for
public comments until June 17, 2015. It makes several important proposed changes
to the existing China RoHS regulation. Read More ›

EPA, Army Corps Redefine Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers (“the agencies”) have issued the long-awaited final rule to define the scope of waters and wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (“CWA” or “Act”), available online here.  The final rule offers notable changes from the proposed rule in an attempt to resolve years of debate and confusion in the wake of perplexing Supreme Court decisions and failed guidance by the agencies.  While the final rule does provide clarity on some aspects of the meaning of “waters of the United States” (or “WOTUS”), ambiguity remains.  The rule retains case-by-case “significant nexus” determinations for potentially jurisdictional waters, meaning that regulatory confusion and uncertainty will persist.  Even though the agencies assert that the final rule will result in a less than 5% increase in waters found to be jurisdictional, that is far from certain.  Congress and the courts will have their say, with the fate of WOTUS most likely remaining in the hands of Supreme Court (again). Read More ›

Wildlife Agencies Propose Overhaul of ESA’s Petition Process for Species Listings

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (“the Services”), the two agencies that administer the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), recently published a proposed rule designed to improve the content and effectiveness of the species listing petition process.  See 80 Fed. Reg. 29,286 (May 21, 2015), available here.  The proposed rule seeks to streamline the petition process for the Services and increase the quality of petitions by eliminating multi-species petitions and requiring petitioners to coordinate with the state agencies in locations where each species lives. Read More ›

Cosmetic Safety Legislation Introduced, Again

In what is the latest in a line of Congressional proposals to beef up the federal government’s authority to regulate cosmetics, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has proposed a bill aimed at dramatically increasing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight of the chemicals found in cosmetics and personal care products.  The Personal Care Products Safety Act , S. 1014[1] mirrors past proposals considered by Congress,[2] albeit with a number of differences from past bills. The bill, which would make substantial revisions to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA)[3] chapter on cosmetics, was proposed on April 20, 2015, and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Read More ›