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Environmental Insurance: Paper Worth Millions

Your client calls frantic because he has just been served with a lawsuit from an adjacent property owner who claims that the historic dry-cleaning operations on your client’s property have contaminated the groundwater. The complaint seeks millions of dollars for cleanup costs. Another client calls. She wants to purchase...
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Lofty Goals & Long Horizons: CARB’s 2022 Scoping Plan Targets Carbon Neutrality by 2045

This past summer, we have seen the risks of climate change manifest worldwide in the form of rising sea levels, severe droughts, massive wildfires, devastating floods, extreme heat, and other ecological disasters.  Fifteen years ago, under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), California began efforts...
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Back to School for Administrators: New K-6 Ban List and Laws Regulating Art Supplies

As schools reopen and in-person learning resumes, school teachers and administrators should be aware of laws regulating the purchasing of art supplies in schools. A preview of some of these laws is as follows: The California Education Code (Cal. Education Code § 32064, et seq. ) prohibits the purchase...
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The Ever-Shifting Landscape of Prop 65 Acrylamide Regulation

It has thus far been a noteworthy year for acrylamide, a Proposition 65-listed substance that naturally forms in the cooking and heating of many plant-based foods. Both the courts and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA,” the agency tasked with enforcing Proposition 65’s warning requirements) appear to be...
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Offshore Drilling Project Dealt Setback by Ninth Circuit

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit dealt a setback to oil and gas interests, vacating the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)’s approval of the “Liberty Project” – a offshore drilling and production facility located off the coast of Alaska in the Beaufort Sea...
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Trump Methane Rollbacks May Spark Litigation, Hinder Greenhouse Gas Regulation

Originally published on Bloomberg Law The Trump administration’s new  final rules  governing methane emissions in the oil and gas industry culminate a multi-year process to roll back limitations promulgated toward the end of the Obama administration. Though the rules address new sources, the changes may directly affect EPA regulation...
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California issues draft guidance for vapor intrusion to indoor air

California environmental agencies recently issued a draft vapor intrusion guidance document that will significantly impact the investigation and remediation of environmentally impacted properties by owners, operators and potential buyers. The guidance document will also impact real estate deals and development involving those properties. The California State Water Resources Control...
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Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian – Perpetuating the Cycle of Supreme Court Environmental Law Decisions that Spark Litigation and Confusion

The U.S. Supreme Court has a history of rendering muddled decisions when interpreting key environmental statutes, and with its decision in  Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian et al., history repeats itself. Case Overview The underlying case has a long procedural and factual background, having ping-ponged up to the Montana...
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SF Regional Board attempts to clarify vapor intrusion approach

The San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board recently issued a  fact sheet  summarizing changes to its approach to remediating environmental impacts and mitigating vapor intrusion (VI) at properties impacted with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  This follows a January 2019  update  to the Board’s vapor intrusion environmental screening levels—which...
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Superfund Case in the U.S. Supreme Court - Unintended Consequences?

In a recent interview with Ellen Gilmer at E&E News, I provided insights about a new case on the Supreme Court docket involving the Anaconda Smelter Stack and surrounding Superfund area in Montana. Overall, the article discussed the potential for unintended consequences if landowners in the long-running dispute over the Superfund...
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Even Your Parking Structure Violates Prop 65

The Prop 65 “Clear and Reasonable Warnings” updates that became effective in August 2018 contain lots of traps for the unwary, including one that you might not have noticed: tailored Prop 65 warnings are required at each of the public entrances to your enclosed parking facilities. To avail your regulated...
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Superior Court Invalidates Hexavalent Chromium Drinking Water Standard

Earlier this month,  Judge Christopher E. Krueger  of the  Sacramento Superior Court  issued an order invalidating the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for  hexavalent chromium . The  California Department of Public Health  (“DPH”) established an MCL of 10 μg/L, or parts per billion (ppb), pursuant to a rulemaking effort that concluded in 2014...
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RCRA Update: New Hazardous Waste Generator Rule Goes Into Effect in May 2017

EPA’s final  Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule  (“Rule”), which goes into effect on May 30, 2017, contains approximately 60 revisions to the hazardous waste generator regulatory program. The revisions focus on improving efficiency, and compliance for hazardous waste generators—which is quite appropriate given EPA’s estimated hazardous waste non-compliance rate...
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Shell Pays Big for Double Dipping with the UST Fund

Last week, the  California State Water Resources Control Board  (State Water Board)  announced  that it permanently banned 100 of Shell Oil Company’s underground storage tank (UST) claims from the California  UST Cleanup Fund  (Fund) for allegedly claiming reimbursement through false or misleading statements on its claim forms.  The State...
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U.S. EPA’s Proposed Rule Would Modernize NPDES Regulations

Earlier this month, the United States EPA proposed a rule (“Proposed Rule”) that would update and revise National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) regulations. Rather than reopening the existing NPDES regulations for comprehensive revision, the Proposed Rule would make “specific targeted changes to the existing regulations” that align the...
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Proposed Rule Adding Vapor Intrusion Component to Hazard Ranking System Will Likely Appear in Federal Register This Month

A  proposed rule that would add a vapor intrusion component to the Hazard Ranking System (“HRS”), the primary screening tool for the CERCLA National Priorities List (“NPL”), is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register this month.  NPL listing is a prerequisite for designation as a federal Superfund site...
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Required Action on the Horizon for California Consumer Products Companies

Yesterday, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) released its draft Stage 1 Alternatives Analysis Guide (“Guide”) under the California Safer Consumer Products program.  Public comments are being accepted on the Guide through October 24, 2015, and DTSC is specifically asking commenters to “provide the names of tools, methods, approaches, and data sources not already...
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State Water Board Approves Composting General Order

Earlier this month, the California State Water Quality Control Board (“State Water Board”)  approved  a General Order for Waste Discharge Requirements (“WDRs”) for composting operations, which will streamline and standardize permitting processes and regulate water quality at new and existing composting facilities.  While the General Order was approved with...
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EPA Must Consider Costs in Deciding Whether to Regulate HAPs From Power Plants

Last week, in  Michigan v. EPA , the U.S. Supreme Court held that it was unreasonable for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to refuse to consider costs in connection with its finding that it was “appropriate and necessary” to regulate hazardous air pollutant (“HAP”) emissions from power plants...
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The Sunset Will Last a Little Longer - UST Fund Extended

On September 25, 2014, Governor Brown signed  SB 445 (Hill)  Underground storage tanks; hazardous substances: petroleum: groundwater and surface water contamination into law (UST Law).  The UST Law was an urgency measure that took effect immediately. The UST Law makes changes to the  Underground Storage Cleanup Fund (UST Fund...
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Substantive Dispute over Land Application of Biosolids Remains Unresolved

Form over substance continues to obscure the substantive issue presented in the case of the  City of Los Angeles (City) vs.Kern County (County) . At its core, the dispute involves the land application of biosolids. Biosolids are organic material produced during the processing and treatment of wastewater. Historically, waste...
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