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Category: Environmental Litigation

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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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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City’s Decision to Not Prepare an EIR Upheld Under Substantial Evidence Standard

Earlier this month, in Latinos Unidos De Napa v. City of Napa, the California Court of Appeals upheld the city of Napa’s determination that it did not have to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when enacting minor changes to its general plan and...
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LITIGATION UPDATE: Writ of Certiorari filed in Solutia, Inc. v. McWane, Inc.

Recently, Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia Corporation filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling that a Potentially Responsible Party (“PRP”) conducting a cleanup pursuant to a consent decree is foreclosed from bringing a cost recovery action against other PRPs under...
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LITIGATION UPDATE: CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT GRANTS REVIEW OF L.A. LIGHT RAIL CASE

On August 8th, the California Supreme Court granted review of the Second District Court of Appeal’s decision in Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority.  As previously blogged in April, the Second District found that a lead agency’s use of projected future conditions to measure the environmental impacts that a...
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CVS Settles Hazardous Waste Suit

In a settlement reached in mid-April, CVS Pharmacy Inc. (CVS) agreed to pay almost $14 million to settle claims that it improperly stored and disposed of hazardous waste at its drugstores in California. In a suit brought in Ventura County Superior Court, prosecutors representing 45 cities and counties across...
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Parties Can Toll CEQA Statute of Limitations

Last week, in Salmon Protection and Watershed Network v. County of Marin, the California Court of Appeals found that a public agency and a party disputing the adequacy of an environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) can enter into a tolling agreement to toll or suspend the...
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Supreme Court Settles Riverbed Battle

The Supreme Court recently issued its opinion in the closely watched case of  PPL Montana, LLC v. State of Montana , 565 U.S. __ (2012), unanimously reversing and remanding a controversial Montana State Supreme Court decision granting Montana ownership of riverbeds underlying ten hydroelectric facilities on three of the...
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Ninth Circuit Invalidates EPA’s Approval of Valley’s 2004 One-Hour Ozone SIP Based On Failure to Address “Stale” Emissions Data

Recently, Honorable Judge Ronald M. Gould, writing for a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, found the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) 2010 approval of the San Joaquin Valley’s 2004 1-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard plan (“2004 SIP”) was arbitrary and capricious, citing EPA’s failure to adequately address the potential...
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Sackett v. EPA – Supreme Court to Decide Whether Pre-Enforcement Review of Compliance Orders Allowed

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument on Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (docket no. 10-1062).  At issue is whether a party who was issued a pre-enforcement compliance order from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the right to have the order judicially reviewed before EPA initiates an enforcement action...
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LA + EPA + SMOG = LAWSUIT: Environmental Groups Sue EPA for Missing Smog-Related Deadline

On Monday, environmental groups, including Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Desert Citizens Against Pollution, Communities for a Better Environment and the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The suit alleges that EPA ran afoul of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by missing a May deadline...
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Cleaning Up: Resolving Your Environmental Liabilities with other People’s Money

David E. Cranston, chair of the Environmental Law Group, was published in  Smart Business Magazine  regarding how clients can avoid being stuck with cleanup costs in environmental contamination cases. A client of ours faced significant costs in cleaning up property contaminated by the operations of its tenants many years...
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No [Global] Warming Up To A Nuisance: Supreme Court Finds Clean Air Act Preempts Federal Climate Change Nuisance Claim

On Monday, the highest court in the land held in American Electric Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut that federal common law nuisance claims relating to climate change are displaced (or “preempted” for you traditionalists out there) by the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action authorized by the CAA. The case began in 2004...
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No Second Guessing EPA: CERCLA Citizen Suit Cannot Interfere With Ongoing Cleanup

This week, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) does not give a federal district court jurisdiction to adjudicate claims for past noncompliance with an order issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The decision, Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., affirms that CERCLA’s citizen suit provision...
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Logging Road Stormwater Runoff Subject to the Clean Water Act

In a long-anticipated decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that stormwater – largely rainwater – that runs off of logging roads into streams and rivers must be permitted under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This decision (Northwest Environmental Defense Center v. Brown) will have far-ranging impacts that...
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Pressure Testing — Court Temporarily Halts Offshore Oil Exploration in Alaska

The events relating to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continue metaphorically to parallel the relationship between the courts and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with regard to deep water oil drilling off the north coast of Alaska. Shortly after BP installed a temporary...
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Keeping PACE – California Sues Fannie Mae

California yesterday commenced a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Federal Housing Finance Agency and its arms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from interfering with California’s implementation of the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program for financing the greening of existing structures. The lawsuit is intended to prevent implementation of...
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