Environmental Law Portal

Welcome to the Beveridge & Diamond Environmental Law Portal.

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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D.C. High Court Adopts Daubert Approach to Expert Testimony in Win for Wireless Industry

In an immediate victory for mobile phone manufacturers and service providers, and with implications for any other case involving expert testimony in the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia’s highest court abandoned the nearly century-old Frye test for admitting expert testimony in favor of the Daubert approach as embodied in Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.  See Motorola, Inc. v. Murray, No. 14-CV-1350 (D.C. Oct. 20, 2016).  The decision to adopt the federal standard—following 39 states that have done so—came in an interlocutory appeal in litigation in which Plaintiffs allege long-term exposure to mobile phone radiation causes brain tumors.  The newly adopted standard likely means an uphill battle for Plaintiffs and their causation experts in this litigation.  Read More ›

Off to Court We Go: Petitioners Challenge EPA’s Small MS4 General Permit for Massachusetts

The storm of debate and criticism over the terms and conditions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems in Massachusetts (the Small MS4 General Permit or Permit) has shifted to the judicial arena.  In July, the first of several petitions for review of the final Small MS4 General Permit was filed in the D.C. Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, followed by four more challenges filed in the First Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.  Notwithstanding the initiation of litigation, Massachusetts municipalities should be continuing to develop their plans and organizing their resources to effectively implement the Small MS4 General Permit, which becomes effective in July 2017.  Read More ›

EPA Issues Update to Settlement Penalty Policy for Industrial Stormwater Violations

Some violators of federal industrial stormwater requirements will likely pay significantly higher penalties under new guidance issued by U.S. EPA.  The new guidance, “Supplemental Guidance to the 1995 Interim Clean Water Act Settlement Penalty Policy for Violations of the Industrial Stormwater Requirements” (the 2016 Supplemental Guidance), provides agency staff with guidance on how to calculate a minimum settlement penalty for unauthorized discharges of industrial stormwater, violations of EPA or state-issued NPDES industrial stormwater permits, and other violations of Clean Water Act stormwater requirements applicable to industrial activity.  The 2016 Supplemental Guidance sets forth a more sophisticated and detailed approach to calculating settlement penalties as compared to the 1995 Interim Policy.  While the effects of the new guidance are not entirely clear, it is likely that it will result in higher penalties for larger and more sophisticated companies compared to smaller companies for the same violations.  Read More ›

Mass DEP Proposes Changes to Air Program

In August 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) proposed several changes to its air regulations as part of its efforts to streamline regulations and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens under Executive Order 562.  These changes will affect a wide range of industrial and commercial facilities.  Read More ›

Breaking News: MassDEP Issues Vapor Intrusion Guidance

This week, MassDEP issued its long-awaited final “Vapor Intrusion Guidance:  Site Assessment, Mitigation and Closure,” which is available here.  This 126-page document, which is based on the October 2014 draft that received substantial public comment, provides guidance on how to assess, remediate, and close vapor intrusion sites under state cleanup regulations that were substantially revised in June 2014, as we described in a previous alert.  Stay tuned:  we will provide a full analysis in a future alert.   

EPA Region 1 Continues its Crackdown on Urban Storm Sewer Systems

U.S. EPA Region 1 has slowly pursued enforcement cases against a large number of Massachusetts municipalities subject to stormwater permitting requirements of the small municipal separate storm sewer system program, known as MS4 systems, and the City of Haverhill is the latest target to settle.  Read More ›

Governor Baker Signs Executive Order On Climate Change

Massachusetts has again stepped up its focus on climate change.  On September 16, 2016—as the summer of endless drought drew to a close—Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued Executive Order No. 569 entitled “Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth.”  The Order addresses a range of actions related to climate change, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, climate change resiliency and adaptation, and planning and assessment of climate change risks. Read More ›

The Federal MS4 Permit: What Massachusetts Academic Institutions Need to Know

In July 2017, the General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems in Massachusetts, known as the MS4 Permit, will become effective in 260 towns and cities in Massachusetts.  The efforts by affected towns and cities to implement the permit, issued by U.S. EPA and MassDEP, will impact academic institutions, particularly those with development plans for the years ahead.  This is what academic institutions need to know about the MS4 Permit: Read More ›

Practice Corner for EH&S at Academic Institutions: Raising the Stakes – EPA Increases Civil Penalties for Environmental Noncompliance

Colleges and universities could see huge increases in civil environmental penalties as a result of a recent update to the maximum civil penalties for federal environmental violations. 

For example, the civil penalties that were originally set at $25,000 under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act have increased to between $44,539 and $93,750.  Because the penalties are per day per violation, a single noncompliance can lead to a demand for a massive civil penalty.  Assuming a particular violation of rules implementing the Clean Air Act is eligible for a penalty of $44,539 under the updated rules and that single violation is a continuing violation that lasts for one month, the penalty demanded could be as high as $1.38 million. Read More ›

“Oh The Times . . . They are A-Changing:” EPA & DOJ Follow Through on Worker Endangerment Initiative

On October 12, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that four Texas companies agreed to plead guilty to criminal violations of the Clean Air Act at oil and chemical processing facilities, and to collectively pay $3.5 million in fines to the government.  While Clean Air Act criminal prosecutions are no longer rare events, and the total fines imposed set no new records, these cases are noteworthy for three critical reasons:  Read More ›