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Showing 5 posts by Augustus "Gus" E. Winkes.

Legal Whipsaw in Washington Sawmill Case: State Supreme Court Decision Fundamentally Changes the Scope of Liability Under the Model Toxics Control Act

On May 24, 2018, in a significant decision with far-reaching implications for cleanups at Washington’s contaminated sites, the Washington State Supreme Court narrowed the scope of “owner or operator” liability under the state environmental cleanup statute, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).  Pope Resources, LP v. Washington State Department of Natural Resources.[1]  The surprising 6-3 decision held:  (1) that a state agency – in this case, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) – may not be liable as an “owner” under MTCA when it merely acts as a lessor, or property management agent, for a property owned by the state; and (2) that liability as an “operator” under MTCA requires active involvement in the operational decisions at a facility. Read More ›

Judge Becomes Student in Climate Change Lawsuit “Tutorial”; Other Recent Updates

The novel climate change tort cases are accelerating at a rapid pace.  Over the past two weeks, several important events occurred in the lawsuits brought by multiple California cities and counties against the country’s largest energy companies:

  • At the invitation of U.S. District Judge William Alsup, plaintiffs Oakland and San Francisco and defendant energy companies participated in an unusual “global warming and climate change tutorial.”
  • In the same case, the energy companies filed motions to dismiss the public nuisance climate change claims, arguing that the claims are displaced by the Clean Air Act and other federal statutes, or alternatively, founder on grounds such as the failure to state a viable public nuisance claim and violations of the Constitution’s separation of powers principles.
  • In another set of climate change cases in California brought by several other local governments against over thirty energy companies, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria created a district-level split on jurisdiction by remanding those claims back to state court.
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 ›

Carbon Pricing Roundup: Recent Developments in the US and Abroad

The first quarter of 2018 has been a busy one for efforts to put a price on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both in the United States and abroad.  In February, the European Union (EU) approved reforms to the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) in late February, while Ontario joined the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), holding the first joint allowance auction with California and Quebec.  Oregon and Washington failed to advance new carbon pricing proposals, while RGGI is set to expand.          Read More ›

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

The National Priorities List is designed to identify the contaminated sites that pose the highest risk to human health or the environment so that U.S. EPA can focus its efforts on these sites.  For the first time, on January 18, 2018, EPA proposed to list a site based solely on the risk to human health from subsurface intrusion to indoor air, also known as vapor intrusion. The site is Rockwell International Wheel & Trim in Grenada, Mississippi.  The public comment period on this proposed listing will close on March 19, 2018. Read More ›