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 Report Recommends Sustainability Tools to EPA

At EPA’s request, the National Research Council (NRC), the policy arm of the National Academy of Sciences, has authored a report that recommends tools and approaches that EPA might use to operationalize its growing focus on sustainability. The report, Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency, comes as a follow-up to a 2011 NRC report, Sustainability and the U.S. EPA (aka the Green Book), which proposed a new EPA decision-making framework based on sustainability principles and holistic analysis of environmental, economic, and social factors. The two reports reflect EPA’s increasing interest in shifting from traditional risk analysis and risk management (RA/RM) to analysis that includes sustainability assessment and management (SAM). Read More ›

EPA Labeling Requirements for Products Containing or Manufactured with a HCFC Begin January 1, 2015

Effective January 1, 2015, products imported or manufactured after that date that contain or were manufactured with a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) must be labeled before they may be placed into interstate commerce.  These newly effective labeling requirements will largely affect imported products. Read More ›

Retailer Pays $2M Fine for Alleged Distribution of Recalled Products by Contractor, Agrees to Maintain Internal Compliance Program

In a press release issued on September 17, 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that Michigan-based retailer, Meijer Inc., will pay a $2 million dollar fine to resolve allegations that it knowingly introduced recalled products into commerce.  Along with the monetary penalty, the settlement agreement provides that Meijer will implement and maintain a reverse logistics compliance program that will include a written policy to address the handling of recalled goods as well as training for employees to prevent future violations. Read More ›

Boston Colleges Take Brownfields Tax Credit Fight to Court

Three Boston-area colleges sued the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) in August claiming that “clarifying” changes made to the Massachusetts Brownfields Tax Credit program retroactively changed the program and resulted in the denial of reportedly more than $17 million in such credits sought by the colleges.  Read More ›

Nonconformities Reconsidered: Massachusetts Court Reinterprets Zoning Act to Require Variances for New Nonconformities to Grandfathered Homes

In yet another twist in the law of residential non-conformities, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has held that there are some circumstances where municipalities may require a variance in order to alter a single- or two-family residence. In short, the Court has drawn a new bright line between work that intensifies an existing non-conformity on the one hand and changes that create new nonconformities on the other hand: In the former case, extensions or alterations may be authorized by the local board of appeals’ finding of “no substantial detriment” and/or grant of a special permit while in the latter case a variance is required.  Deadrick v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Chatham, Appeals Court No. 13-P-1264 (June 25, 2014).  This ruling resolves what “at first blush” appeared to be the holding in Gale v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Gloucester, 80 Mass. App. Ct. 331 (2011), that variances were impermissible in the case of residential alterations or extensions. (See Massachusetts Environmental and Land Use Alert dated September, 2011.)   Read More ›

Implementing the 2014 Changes to Massachusetts Cleanup Regulations

Significant changes to the Massachusetts cleanup regulations, known locally as the “MCP,” became effective June 20, 2014. As we described in our April 2014 alert, these changes substantially revised numeric standards and closure requirements and modified the assessment and remediation of sites with vapor intrusion, historic fill, and nonaqueous phase liquid. Since then, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has been developing guidance materials to assist with implementation. These guidance documents touch on the most important changes in the regulations, and provide insight into anticipated implementation challenges: Read More ›

Location of a Structure, Without More, Is Insufficient to Prove the Historic High Water Mark

A Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a determination by the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) that a seawall-walkway lies seaward of the historic high water mark based on a comparison of current conditions and historic maps.  Wendy Stone-Ashe v. Department of Environmental Protection, 86 Mass. App. Ct. 16 (Mass. App. July 16, 2014).  Evidence purporting to show the position of an existing seawall, by itself, is insufficient to prove the historic high water mark.  Read More ›

OSHA’s Increased Enforcement of Facilities with Combustible Dusts Hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) continues to issue citations for alleged violations of various general industry standards (such as general housekeeping and electrical standards) and Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the General Duty Clause (“GDC”), for alleged workplace exposure to fire and/or explosion hazards from “combustible dust,” despite the lack of a clear and comprehensive general industry standard governing employers’ handling of combustible dusts.  Read More ›

Wide-ranging Federal Plans to Address Chemical Process Safety and Security

Substantive changes may be coming to OSHA’s process safety management standard, EPA’s Risk Management Plan regulations, and DHS’s CFATS program. Companies affected by these and other programs regulating process safety and security should be aware of the developments and, as appropriate, consider participating in the rulemaking process. This alert reports on why and how multiple federal agencies are newly focused on updating and expanding their programs related to handling hazardous chemicals safely and securely.  Read More ›

Phthalates Panel Recommends Additional CPSC Restrictions

Over the next several months, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will be reviewing the report and recommendations of an agency advisory panel regarding risks of phthalates in children’s products. If implemented by CPSC through rulemaking, the recommendations of the long-delayed report would restrict phthalates more stringently.   Read More ›