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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Maryland Takes Key Step for Offshore Wind

On May 11, the Maryland Public Services Commission (PSC) issued $1.9 billion in Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credits (ORECs) to two prospective offshore wind developers, effectively ensuring a market for any electricity generated from their federal wind leases off Ocean City, Maryland.  If constructed, the planned projects, capable of generating 248 megawatts (MW) and 120 MW, would dwarf the capacity of the 30-MW capacity Block Island project off the coast of Rhode Island, which is the only current offshore wind facility in the United States.  Maryland’s issuance of ORECs is the first in a long line of necessary state and federal regulatory approvals, but signals Maryland’s commitment to generating energy from offshore wind and is regarded as essential to project planning and finance. Read More ›

PHMSA Increases Penalty Limits for Pipeline Safety Violations

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) revised its regulations to increase the maximum civil penalties for violations of Federal pipeline safety laws, as well as any regulations or orders PHMSA issues thereunder, to adjust for inflation. Read More ›

EPA Retracts CERCLA Remedy Selection Authority from Regional Offices for Remedies that Exceed $50 Million

On May 9, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued two new delegations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) that limit to the Administrator (and possibly the Deputy Administrator) the authority to select remedies estimated to cost over $50 million. One delegation concerns Superfund sites generally; the other relates to federal facilities. Previously, all remedy selection was delegated to the Assistant Administrator for Office of Land and Emergency Management and the Regional Administrators. The authority to sign Records of Decision estimated to cost less than $50 million remains with those officials. A copy of the revised delegations and accompanying memorandum are available here.   Read More ›

Texas Supreme Court Tosses Untimely Damages Claims, Leaves Open Possibility of Injunctive Relief

Highlighting the importance of proving a factual timeline in a statute of limitations analysis, the Texas Supreme Court held that a cattle ranch owners’ claims related to alleged contamination from long-dormant oil and gas operations were barred by Texas’s statute of limitations. See ExxonMobil v. Lazy R Ranch, LP , No. 15-0270 (Tex. Feb. 24, 2017). However, the court did not reach the issue of whether a plaintiff can obtain injunctive relief, e.g. for remediation, that costs more than the diminution of property value. Read More ›

Fourth Circuit: Plaintiff Cannot Rely on CERCLA Discovery Rule to Save Tort Claims

Declining to apply CERCLA’s discovery rule to preempt a state statute of limitations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a district court decision to dismiss untimely state tort claims stemming from dewatering operations at a Virginia coal mine. See Blankenship v. Consolidation Coal Co., No. 15-02480 (4th Cir. Mar. 9, 2017). Read More ›

New York Lead Paint Suit Barred by Statute of Limitations

Illustrating the limits of New York’s discovery rule, a New York appeals court dismissed claims alleging injuries from lead paint exposure as barred by the statute of limitations. See Vasilatos v. Dzamba, No. 523286 (N.Y. App. Div., Mar. 2, 2017). Read More ›

Federal Court Allows Expert Testimony on Health Risks Despite Lack of Personal Injury Claims

Underscoring the importance of expert testimony regarding health risks in toxic tort cases involving potential exposure issues, a Mississippi federal judge allowed expert testimony on health risks posed by alleged contamination even though the plaintiffs had not alleged personal injuries. See Hollingsworth v. Hercules, Inc., 2:14-CV-113-KS-MTP (S.D. Miss. Jan. 3, 2017). Read More ›

Illinois Appellate Court Allows Rare “Prospective Nuisance” Claim to Proceed Against Mining Facility

Addressing the relatively uncommon “prospective nuisance” claim, an Illinois appeals court found a group of landowners pleaded sufficient facts to show that a new sand mining operation would result in a nuisance if constructed. See Whipple v. Vill. of N. Utica, 3-15-0547 (Ill. App. Ct., Mar. 9, 2017). The court reversed the trial court’s decision and found that the landowners could proceed with a claim to enjoin construction of the facility Read More ›

Fifth Circuit Tosses Coastal Damage Tort Lawsuit Against Oil and Gas Companies

Illustrating the challenges in using Louisiana tort suits to address large-scale environmental issues, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed claims seeking relief for alleged coastal damage from oil and gas operations off the Gulf Coast. See Bd. Comm’r Se. La. Flood Prot. Auth.-E. v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., No. 15-30162 (5th Cir. Mar. 3, 2017). Read More ›

Federal District Court Declines to Declare that CERCLA Bars Pending State Law Tort Action

Highlighting the discretion a federal court may exercise to allow a state court to hear state tort claims, a federal district court in Montana dismissed a former smelter operator’s claim for injunctive relief against plaintiffs where a related but separate tort action was pending in state court. See Atl. Richfield Co. v. Christian, 15-cv-00083 (D. Mont. Feb. 15, 2017). Even though the federal court acknowledged it had diversity jurisdiction, it found the state court was better situated to efficiently handle the matter. Read More ›