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Showing 29 posts by Paul E. Hagen.

Minamata Convention to Take Effect in August, Restricting the Production and Usage of Mercury Worldwide

On May 17, the European Union and seven EU member states ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, pushing past the 50-state threshold needed for its entry into force. The treaty – the most recent of the global multilateral environmental agreements – will now enter into force (i.e., become legally binding) on August 16, 2017. The United States ratified the Convention (as an executive agreement, without the advice and consent of the Senate) in 2013; in contrast to most of the recent multilateral environmental agreements, therefore, the United States will participate in this agreement as a full party.  Read More ›

New Developments and Uncertainties for Conflict Minerals Disclosure

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) Division of Corporate Finance issued a new statement adding some uncertainty to company obligations and enforcement exposure under the SEC conflict minerals rule ahead of the May 31, 2017 filing deadline.  The statement is one of several moving pieces in an unprecedented wave of activity on conflict minerals in recent weeks.  Companies should review these developments and their approach to meeting legal obligations imposed by the SEC’s implementation of Section 1502 of Dodd Frank, alongside the broader expectations of customers, activists and investors. Read More ›

SEC Conflict Minerals Rule Faces New Scrutiny Ahead of May Filing Deadline

A flurry of activity on conflict minerals in recent weeks has added new uncertainty to the long-simmering debate over the future of U.S. conflict minerals reporting requirements. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced plans to reconsider its 2012 rule implementing Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act and requested public comments on all aspects of the rule.  President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a Presidential memorandum that could waive the SEC conflict minerals rule for up to two years based on national security interests. In what may be a step toward considering new approaches to addressing the responsible sourcing of minerals in the region, the State Department issued a broad request for stakeholder input to inform “recommendations.”  Read More ›

EPA Revises Hazardous Waste Import-Export Rules

On October 28, 2016, the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a rule finalizing significant modifications to the requirements governing the export and import of hazardous waste.  The rule changes will go into effect on December 31, 2016, although, as discussed below, certain requirements will be phased in over time.  The changes will affect transboundary shipments currently subject to 40 C.F.R. Part 262 Subpart H (regulating hazardous waste shipments for recovery between the United States and countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) other than Mexico and Canada), as well as shipments currently subject to Subparts E and F (regulating all other hazardous waste imports and exports).  The modifications make certain substantive changes to the requirements of Subpart H, as well as expand the scope of that subpart to cover transboundary shipments currently subject to Subparts E and F.  The modifications are largely consistent with EPA’s October 2015 proposed rule. Read More ›

FedEx Settlement with California Department of Toxic Substances Control Contains Important Lessons/Reminders for Product and Waste Shippers

On June 14, 2016, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (“FedEx”) entered into a settlement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) to resolve allegations that FedEx improperly handled, transported, stored, recycled and disposed of damaged packages of hazardous materials (“DTSC Settlement”).  Under the terms of the DTSC Settlement, FedEx will pay a total of $3.4 million in civil penalties and is enjoined from further violations of California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law (“HWCL”).  See Stipulation for Entry of Final Judgment and Order on Consent, People v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., Case No.34-2014-00165454 (Sacramento County Superior Court) (filed June 14, 2016).  The DTSC Settlement also resolves a related case FedEx brought in federal court in April 2014 (“Federal Action”).  Read More ›

ENERGY STAR Disqualifications on the Rise: How to Make Sure Your Product Isn’t Next

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) appears to have significantly increased its enforcement of the ENERGY STAR Program’s conformity verification rules over the past year.  During 2015, under the broad category of “non-lighting products,” EPA removed, or disqualified, from the Program 169 products that it had previously granted the right to bear the ENERGY STAR label.  The 2015 total was more than three times the number of such products disqualified in 2014, and higher than the four prior years combined. Read More ›

EPA Proposes Revisions to Hazardous Waste Import-Export Rules

On October 19, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed significant modifications to rules governing the export and import of hazardous waste.  The proposal would affect transboundary shipments currently subject to 40 C.F.R. Part 262 Subpart H (regulating hazardous waste shipments for recovery between the United States and countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) other than Mexico and Canada) as well as shipments subject to Subparts E and F (regulating all other hazardous waste imports and exports).  The proposal would make certain substantive changes to the requirements of Subpart H, as well as expand the scope of the subpart to cover transboundary shipments currently subject to Subparts E and F.  Stakeholder comments on the proposed modifications will be accepted until December 18, 2015.  EPA expects the rulemaking to be finalized in Fall 2016 and to be effective by December 31, 2016. Read More ›

D.C. Circuit Reaffirms Previous Conflict Minerals Decision: Disclosure Requirement Violates First Amendment

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reaffirmed its previous decision striking down a narrow portion of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) conflict minerals rule.  See NAM v. SEC, No. 13-5252 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 18, 2015).  The D.C. Circuit again concluded that the rule’s requirement that companies describe their products as “not found to be DRC conflict free” violates the First Amendment, but left intact the rule’s other requirements.  The Court distinguished previous cases involving compelled disclosures from this case, and found that requiring the use of the phrase “not found to be DRC conflict free” does not pass Constitutional muster, nor does it materially advance the government’s interest in reducing conflict in central Africa.  Read More ›

Conflict Minerals: D.C. Circuit to Reconsider Conflict Minerals Ruling; Initiatives Proceed in the European Union and China

Recent developments in the U.S., European Union and China underscore the dynamic
nature of evolving supply chain due diligence requirements and expectations for
companies sourcing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.  The following news alert
highlights activities that may influence companies’ approaches to conflict
minerals in the near term. Read More ›

Ninth Circuit Upholds Alameda Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance, Triggering Implementation of King County Secure Medicine Return Rule

On September 30, 2014, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Northern District of California’s summary judgment that the Alameda Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance (the “Ordinance”) does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. PRMA v. Alameda County, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 18737 (9th Cir. 2014). The Ninth Circuit held that the Ordinance does not discriminate against or directly regulate interstate commerce. Moreover, the Court found that, in the context of the judicially created Pike balancing test, the Ordinance does not substantially burden interstate commerce and that the Ordinance provides public benefits. Read More ›