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 Commits to Respond in Early 2016 to Petition Seeking to Make the RCRA Corrosivity Characteristic 10 Times More Stringent

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or the “Agency”) recently informed a federal appeals court that it intends to respond no later than March 31, 2016 to a rulemaking petition submitted to EPA in 2011 by one of its own employees and a group of other government employees (“Petitioners”), which asked the Agency to dramatically increase the stringency of the corrosivity characteristic used to identify wastes as hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”).  The Petitioners claimed that EPA had acted “erroneously and fraudulently” in establishing the characteristic in 1980, and thereby endangered public health, most notably among first responders at “Ground Zero” on 9/11 who breathed in dust from the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Read More ›

Municipalities Lose First Round in Bid to Hold PCB Manufacturers Liable For Environmental Impacts

Two Massachusetts municipalities are down but not out in their attempts to hold manufacturers of PCBs responsible for the environmental effects of PCB-containing products decades later.  In March, the Federal court in Boston issued several opinions involving claims bought by towns against Monsanto and its successors Pharmacia Corporation and Solutia, Inc. alleging that they are responsible for harm caused by the release of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at schools because they manufactured the PCBs. These cases raise interesting issues as to whether a manufacturer should bear responsibility for harm caused by its products, long after those products enter the stream of commerce. Read More ›

Zoning Deficiencies Not Cured by Existing Structures Exception for ANR Plans

Dividing up the “traditional New England family compound” has a host of societal implications and land use complications that were on display in the Supreme Judicial Court’s recent decision in Palitz v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Tisbury, 470 Mass. 795 (2015).  In that case, the SJC ruled that zoning infirmities caused by the division of such a tract under the “existing structures” exception of M.G.L. c. 41, § 81L, must be addressed by variance because the property  division, even though accomplished by way of an Approval Not Required (ANR) plan under § 81L, does not cure those zoning deficiencies. Read More ›

Massachusetts Governor Baker Issues Order Dramatically Curtailing Agency Regulatory Authority

As we reported in our last issue, shortly after incoming Governor Charlie Baker was sworn in earlier this year, his Secretary of Administration and Finance issued a memo imposing a temporary three-month freeze on new state regulations while his administration evaluated existing requirements and budgetary issues. Read More ›

Troubles for Town’s Wind Turbine

In the long-running dispute between the Town of Falmouth and the neighbors to the Town’s wind turbine that powers the municipal wastewater treatment facility (WWTF), score one for the neighbors. The Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed the decision of Barnstable Superior Court Justice Robert C. Rufo in Drummey v. Town of Falmouth, 87 Mass. App. Ct. 127 (2015), finding that the Town was required to obtain a special permit from the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals to the install the wind turbine on Town land. Read More ›

EPA Supplemental Environmental Projects Policy Updated for First Time Since 1998

For the first time in 17 years, U.S. EPA has updated its policy governing projects that can be performed as part of settlements with EPA.  EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (“OECA”) recently issued this critical update to its Supplemental Environmental Projects Policy (“2015 SEP Policy”) on March 10, 2015, which became effective immediately.  The 2015 SEP Policy supersedes all prior versions and incorporates EPA OECA guidance and implementation decisions on SEPs from the last 17 years. Read More ›

MassDEP Provided Substantial Discretion to Interpret Legislative Mandate in Global Warming Solutions Act

Just how much discretion will the courts give to the MassDEP to interpret legislative intent when it implements legislative directives such as a requirement to develop rules under the Global Warming Solutions Act?  The answer, according to a recent decision by a Superior Court judge, is a surprising amount. Read More ›

Parker Moore Quoted in Law360 on Fourth Circuit Deferral to Corps’ Denial of Wetlands Permit

Parker Moore, a Principal in Beveridge & Diamond's Washington, DC office, and a former wetlands ecologist, was quoted in an Environmental Law360 article titled "4th Circ. 'Nexus' Ruling Expands Deference To Army Corps." The article addresses the propriety of the Fourth Circuits decision to defer broadly to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' determination under the Clean Water Act (CWA) of when a wetland has a "significant nexus" to a downstream navigable waterway. Read More ›

China Issues Revised Hazardous Chemicals Inventory; Enforcement Likely to Increase

On February 27, 2015, ten departments under China’s central government jointly issued a revised list of hazardous substances, the Inventory of Hazardous Chemicals (“Inventory"), which will become effective May 1, 2015.  The Inventory represents the joint efforts of multiple ministries and will replace the existing Catalogue of Hazardous Chemicals (2002) and Inventory of Chinese Highly Toxic Chemicals (2002).  The Inventory contains 2,828 hazardous chemicals and expands coverage from the 2002 lists through the inclusion of a large group of chemicals with a closed cup flash point not exceeding 60℃ (e.g., synthetic resin containing flammable solvents; paints; auxiliary materials; coatings, etc.). Read More ›

Ohio Wind Developer and FWS Successfully Defend Incidental Take Permit for Endangered Indiana Bat

A proposed Ohio wind farm cleared another legal hurdle last week when Judge Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (“FWS”) issuance of an incidental take permit authorizing the “take” of endangered Indiana bats. The court dismissed plaintiff’s Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and National Environmental Policy Act claims with prejudice, foreclosing re-litigation of the issue and bringing an added level of certainty to a project that has been in development since 2006. Read More ›