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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EPA’s Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Pose Challenges for Industry, Particularly Importers

Importers, retailers, and others that sell goods containing plywood or other composite wood products face significant compliance challenges from EPA’s new Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products (the Standards). The final rule adopting the standards was signed on July 27, 2016. The Standards implement Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act. They are based on the formaldehyde emission limits of the Airborne Toxic Control Measure to Reduce Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products (ATCM) of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The Standards differ from the ATCM in several ways. But compliance with the ATCM will help substantially as companies work to meet their obligations under the Standards. Read More ›

Comments Due November 1, 2016 on Proposed Update to Framework for Biotechnology Regulation

On September 18, 2016, the Obama Administration issued two major documents in connection with its ongoing efforts to modernize the federal Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.  The first document, a proposed update to the 1986 framework, intends to clarify the current roles of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – the three primary agencies involved in the regulation of biotechnology products.  Members of the regulated industry, other stakeholders, and members of the broader public may submit comments on the proposed update until November 1, 2016.  The second document presents a national strategy outlining future steps that the Agencies intend to take to ensure that the regulatory system addresses novel biotechnology product types going forward.  As directed by the Executive Office of the President last year, the Agencies have also commissioned development of a third document by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) to address future biotechnology products and opportunities to enhance capabilities of the regulatory system.  The NAS expects to release its report at the end of 2016.  Read More ›

EPA Issues Strategy to Address the Mismatch Between the Federal Hazardous Waste Rules and the Retail Sector

On September 12, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or the “Agency”) issued a strategy for addressing growing concerns about the application of the federal hazardous waste regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) to the retail sector.  See EPA, “Strategy for Addressing the Retail Sector under RCRA’s Regulatory Framework” (hereinafter referred to as the “Retail Strategy”).  EPA’s strategy aims to reconcile the decades-old hazardous waste regulatory program with the unique compliance issues facing the retail sector today.  The strategy follows the Agency’s discussions with stakeholders, consideration of President Obama’s Executive Order directing agencies to evaluate regulatory effectiveness and efficiency, and review of public comments on a Notice of Data Availability (“NODA”) regarding waste management in the retail sector.  EPA intends to implement the strategy through a combination of rulemakings, guidance documents, and further fact-gathering. Read More ›

DOT Releases Policy for Driverless Vehicle Testing and Deployment on U.S. Roads

Summary:  On September 19, 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a forward thinking guidance document titled, “Federal Automated Vehicles Policy” (Policy), to aid all stakeholders involved in shaping the future of transportation.  The Policy and associated fact sheets can be found on DOT’s automated vehicle website.  This guidance document has been heavily anticipated due to the rapid advancements in autonomous vehicle technology and the magnitude of the safety and environmental benefits the application of that technology is expected to achieve.  In short, autonomous vehicles will absolutely and totally change transportation forever. Read More ›

New Proposition 65 Regulation Amendments Modify Clear and Reasonable Warning Requirements and Private Enforcement Settlement Provisions

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Attorney General each adopted regulatory amendments to the Proposition 65 regulations at the close of August 2016. The OEHHA amendments modify Article 6 of Title 27 of the California Code of Regulations, which sets forth the method and content deemed to be clear and reasonable for Proposition 65 warnings. The California Attorney General amendments (AG Amendments) modify the Proposition 65 private enforcement regulations and affect settlement terms, penalty amounts and attorney’s fees in actions brought by private plaintiffs. Read More ›

Stormwater Forecast: Prepare for More Aggressive Benchmark Monitoring and Corrective Action Requirements under the Next Proposed MSGP

EPA is expected to propose a revised system of benchmark monitoring and corrective action requirements to replace those of the current 2015 Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activities (“MSGP”).  EPA has just entered into a settlement agreement with environmental groups that challenged EPA’s issuance of the 2015 MSGP, under which EPA has agreed to propose a number of new conditions for incorporation into the next version of the permit. The settlement agreement has no effect on the terms and conditions of the current 2015 MSGP, which remains in place until June 2020, however, facilities subject to benchmark monitoring should take note of the changes expected to be proposed, particularly for those facilities consistently facing benchmark exceedances.  Under the current permit, benchmark exceedances do not on their own result in non-compliance, but can trigger the need for enhanced stormwater management practices. Read More ›

California Appellate Court Upholds “Every Exposure” Theory

Deferring to the role of a jury in resolving questions of competing scientific theories, a California appeals court upheld a trial court’s ruling allowing expert testimony based on the “every exposure” theory, calling it “the subject of legitimate scientific debate.”  See Davis v. Honeywell Int’l Inc., 199 Cal.Rptr.3d 583 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016). Read More ›

Fifth Circuit Affirms Exclusion of Expert Testimony Tying Gasoline to AML

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a trial court’s decision to exclude expert testimony that exposure to gasoline caused acute myeloid leukemia (“AML”) in a former gas station attendant and mechanic, highlighting the importance of the distinction between a product and its component parts in exposure cases.  See Burst v. Shell Oil Co., 2016 WL 2989261 (5th Cir. May 23, 2016).  (Our prior coverage of the trial court ruling is available here.) Read More ›

Union Carbide Corp. Not Liable for Property Damage From 1984 Bhopal Leak

In the most recent case stemming from the 1984 chemical plant leak in Bhopal, India, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit further clarified the circumstances in which an entity other than the owner or operator of a site may be liable at common law for a chemical release at that site.  See Sahu v. Union Carbide Corporation, No. 14-3087-cv (2d Cir. May 24, 2016).  Plaintiffs claimed property damage from leaks from a waste storage facility at the Union Carbide India Limited (“UCIL”) plant in Bhopal, and sued Union Carbide Corporation (“UCC”), a majority stockholder in UCIL, for nuisance, trespass, strict liability, and negligence. Read More ›

New York Court Dismisses Chemical Sensitivity Claims for Lack of Causation

Illustrating the difficulty in pursuing a multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) claim, a New York appeals court upheld dismissal of Plaintiff’s toxic tort claim because he failed to establish a causal link between chemical exposure and his symptoms. See Abrams v. Related, L.P., 2016 BL 91070 (N.Y. App. Div. March 24, 2016). Read More ›