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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USDA Accepting Public Comments on “Clean Meat” Labeling Petition

On February 8, 2018, the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) filed a petition with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting that the Agency establish a food labeling requirement that the term “beef” only be used to refer to products that “come from cattle that have been born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner.”  If USDA takes the requested action, manufacturers of new “clean meat” products would be prevented from labeling their products as “beef” or “meat.”  Industry stakeholders and other interested members of the public may submit comments on USCA’s petition until April 23, 2018. Read More ›

New York High Court Rules on “Unavailability Exception” to Pro Rata Allocation in Long-Tail Environmental Coverage Case

The New York Court of Appeals ruled last week that if an insurance policy provides for pro rata allocation to determine the insurance coverage responsibility for environmental contamination spanning multiple policy periods, the policyholder bears the risk of loss for periods where pollution coverage was unavailable for purchase. Keyspan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America, Inc., No. 20 (Slip Op. Mar. 27, 2018). Read More ›

SJC Clarifies Statute of Limitations for Contaminated Property Damage Claims but Raises Questions of Application

Plaintiffs with property damage claims under the Massachusetts cleanup law have more time to bring their claim than might be expected under the three-year statute of limitations according to a recent ruling by the top Massachusetts court.  The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the statute of limitations begins running when the plaintiff knows that there is damage to the property that is “permanent” and who is responsible for the damage, pointing to the phases of investigation and remediation in Massachusetts’ regulatory scheme as signposts for when a plaintiff should have that knowledge.  Grand Manor Condominium Assoc. v. City of Lowell, 478 Mass. 682 (2018).  However, the Court left considerable uncertainty about when the statute of limitations might begin for arguably more temporary property damages such as lost rent. Read More ›

Nonprofit Universities Eligibility for Brownfields Tax Credits, Massachusetts Appeals Court Confirms

Nonprofits are eligible for transferrable Brownfields tax credits for remediation conducted prior to 2006 according to a recent ruling by the Massachusetts Appeals Court. As we previously reported in March 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue issued guidance in November 2013 declaring that nonprofit organizations are not entitled to receive credit for Brownfields cleanups completed in a taxable year that began before June 24, 2006. This guidance was challenged by several universities and a real estate developer, and in 2015, the Superior Court declared that the DOR overreached and the directive was invalid. DOR appealed. In its decision in Northeastern University v. Comm’r of Revenue, 92 Mass.App.Ct. 1120 (Mass.App.Ct. 2017), the Appeals Court affirmed the Superior Court’s decision based on the clear language of the statute. A motion for further appellate review has been filed with the top Massachusetts court. Read More ›

MassDEP Issues Air Rule Amendments

Culminating a two-year rule promulgation process, MassDEP has issued a final rule amendment package that makes adjustments to numerous provisions of the Massachusetts air regulations.  The announced purpose of this package was to streamline the rules and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens pursuant to Governor Baker’s Executive Order 562 and to adopt changes to various provisions to make them more consistent with the federal rules. Read More ›

Standardizing Assessment of Natural Resource Damages: Massachusetts Is Taking the First Step

MassDEP is developing a standard methodology for assessing natural resource damages for small to medium oil spills to surface water that will be incorporated into forthcoming regulations, which will require persons responsible for these spills to pay the assessed natural resource damages, above and beyond cleaning up the spill.  MassDEP is expected to expand the standard assessment to include spills of hazardous materials and spills to groundwater.  MassDEP plans to pool these funds to improve watersheds that have been harmed by releases of oil or hazardous materials. Read More ›

“Frivolous” Town Complaint Results in Attorney’s Fees Award for Affordable Housing Developer

The Massachusetts Land Court’s recent award of attorney’s fees to an affordable housing developer serves as a warning to municipalities opposed to affordable housing projects under the Massachusetts affordable housing statute, M.G.L. c. 40B. In Town of Sudbury v. Bartlett, et al., Land Court Case No. 16 MISC 000734 (2017), the Town sought to block development of property that it had sold to the developer, arguing that the parcel was subject to a deed restriction. The Land Court rejected this argument and sided with the developer in a decision on cross-motion for summary judgment. The developer filed a subsequent motion to recover attorney’s fees under M.G.L. c. 231, § 6F. Read More ›

Water, Water, Everywhere

If it isn’t already, water should be on your mind this year.  The excitement of Scituate storm surge and coastal flooding aside, the region – and the U.S. as a whole – is facing a slew of legal developments that may change how citizens, businesses, and governments operate under the federal Clean Water Act and similar state programs.  In particular, the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction is in play following a pair of Supreme Court decisions, as is the potential delegation of permitting authority to Massachusetts and New Hampshire, two of only four states in which the EPA administers permitting under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Read More ›

For the First Time, EPA Proposes to Add a Site to the National Priorities List Solely Based on the Risk Posed by Vapor Intrusion

EPA has proposed to add the Rockwell International Wheel & Trim Site in Grenada, Mississippi to the National Priorities List, the first site added based solely on the risk to human health from vapor intrusion from subsurface contamination, which impacts indoor air quality. Read More ›

EPA Sees New Challenges Ahead for Superfund

EPA released a four-year “strategic plan” on February 12 that continues to emphasize the Superfund program as one of Administrator Scott Pruitt’s top priorities.  While it has been clear since last summer’s Superfund Task Force report that the agency’s new leadership wants to accelerate Superfund site cleanups, the agency’s new strategic plan reveals for the first time that EPA also sees emerging challenges ahead for Superfund. Read More ›