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Corporate Environmental Lawyer Blog

June 10, 2016 TSCA Reform Act Passed, Sent to the President for Signature

Allison Torrence photo

By Allison Torrence

Late on June 7, 2016, the Senate voted in favor of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (HR 2576) (a/k/a the TSCA Reform Act). The TSCA Reform Act regulates the manufacture, transportation, sale and use of thousands of chemicals, and provides a much needed update to the 40 year old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The TSCA Reform Act had been passed by the House in May, with overwhelming support. It was held up recently in the Senate by an objection from Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who argued that he needed more time to review the complex new law. But, Senator Paul dropped his objection on June 7th, and a vote was quickly held.

The TSCA Reform Act is widely seen as an improvement over the outdated TSCA. The American Chemical Counsel praised the TSCA Reform Act as “truly historic”. Others, however, were disappointed that the TSCA Reform Act preempted state laws on chemical safety, instead of setting a floor and letting state’s set more stringent standards.

President Obama is expected to sign the TSCA Reform Act into law very soon, as the White House had endorsed the Act after it passed the House of Representatives in May.

CATEGORIES: Consumer Law and Environment, Hazmat, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, TSCA

PEOPLE: Allison A. Torrence

June 7, 2016 Gold King Mine Spill Update: New Mexico Sues EPA

Gold King mine spill yellow water photoGrayson

By E. Lynn Grayson

EPA’s woes over alleged mismanagement of the Gold King Mine spill in August 2015 continue with a new lawsuit recently filed by the State of New Mexico in federal district court in Albuquerque. The lawsuit names the EPA as a defendant, along with an EPA environmental contractor and mine owners contributing to the mismanagement of reclamation waters. New Mexico contends that the Agency has not done enough to remedy the toxic release of a flood of wastewater contaminated with an estimated 880,000 pounds of heavy metals into local rivers.

New Mexico’s suit seeks a declaratory judgment that the contractor and mine owners violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for alleged negligence and gross negligence. New Mexico also is asking for a declaratory judgment against all defendants under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

Although the suit does not specify damages, attorneys for New Mexico said communities are owed at least $7 million for emergency response costs and third-party monitoring of water quality. They said the defendants should pay another $140 million in damages for estimated economic harm. This calculation estimated the harm done to rivers that are critical for agricultural and ranching use; to the Navajo Nation, which owns a tract of land the size of a small state that was affected; and to recreation that provides a significant amount of New Mexico’s income.

The New Mexico Attorney General is requesting full and just compensation for the environmental and economic damage caused by EPA’s spill. The lawsuit alleges that the effects of EPA’s spill were far worse than reported. New Mexico Environmental Department Cabinet Secretary Ryan Flynn has stated publicly that “from the very beginning, the EPA failed to hold itself accountable in the same way that it would a private business.”

While EPA declined to formally comment on the lawsuit, an Agency spokesperson advised that the EPA has taken responsibility for the spill and already paid the State of New Mexico $1.3 million.

The lawsuit is the first state litigation against the EPA over the spill. Other states impacted include Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and the Navajo Nation.

CATEGORIES: Cercla, RCRA, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, Water

April 8, 2016 EPA Limits TCE Use in Consumer Goods

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson

US EPA logo

EPA recently took action under the Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA) to ensure no TCE containing consumer products enter the marketplace before the Agency has the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and take appropriate action. The new rule issued April 6, 2016, known as a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), requires any company intending to make certain TCE containing consumer products provide EPA 90-day notice before making the product.

The final rule applies to TCE manufactured (including import) or processed for use in any consumer product, except for use in cleaners and solvent degreasers, film cleaners, hoof polishes, lubricants, mirror edge sealants, and pepper spray. A consumer product is defined at 40 CFR 721.3 as “a chemical substance that is directly, or as part of a mixture, sold or made available to consumers for their use in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, in or around a school, or in recreation.”

EPA’s June 2014 Work Plan Chemical Risk Assessment for TCE identified health risks associated with several TCE uses, including the arts and craft spray fixative use, aerosol and vapor degreasing, and as a spotting agent in dry cleaning facilities. In 2015, EPA worked with the only U.S. manufacturer of the TCE spray fixative product, PLZ Aeroscience Corporation of Addison, Illinois, resulting in an agreement to stop production of the TCE containing product and to reformulate the product with an alternate chemical.

It is important to note that this regulatory action may affect certain entities with pre-existing import certifications and export notifications required under TSCA.

 The rule becomes effective 60 days from its publication in the Federal Register.

CATEGORIES: Cercla, Climate Change, Consumer Law and Environment, Hazmat, RCRA, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, TSCA

March 11, 2016 Lynn Grayson and Allison Torrence Presenting At CBA Seminar On Environmental Law

CBA logo

Siros photoBy Steven M. Siros

On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Jenner & Block partners E. Lynn Grayson and Allison Torrence will be speaking at a Chicago Bar Association CLE Seminar titled "Major Cases and Regulatory Changes in Environmental Law." Lynn Grayson will be presenting on proposed RCRA generator and pharmaceutical rules, and Allison Torrence, who is Chair of the CBA Environmental Law Committee, will be presenting on the U.S. v. Volkswagen Clean Air Act litigation.

The seminar is on Wednesday March 16, 2014 from 3–5 pm at the Chicago Bar Association, 321 S. Plymouth Court. A networking reception will be held at the CBA immediately following the seminar, from 5–6 pm.

For more information and to register for the seminar click here.

CATEGORIES: Air, Climate Change, Consumer Law and Environment, Greenhouse Gas, Hazmat, RCRA, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, Water

PEOPLE: Allison A. Torrence, Steven M. Siros

March 10, 2016 Update: Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest System

Grayson photoBy E. Lynn Grayson

As required by the Hazardous Waste Electronic Establishment Act (Act), EPA’s efforts are ongoing to develop an e-manifest system. EPA issued its final rule in February 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 7518, February 7, 2014) seeking to implement the Act’s requirement to create a national electronic manifest system and impose user fees as a means to fund its development and operation. Most recently, EPA has developed an e-manifest listserv to manage communications with the regulated community.

According to EPA, the listserv will: 1) provide stakeholders with program announcements and updates; and 2) facilitate e-manifest conversations among users and other stakeholders. There will be significant progress on the e-manifest program throughout 2016-2017, so participation in the listserv will be a good way to stay informed.

Interested parties may subscribe to EPA’s listserv at https://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/transportation/manifest/e-man.htm.

EPA conducted a webinar on developments with the e-manifest system in December 2015, and the presentation provides a good overview of the program and related schedule.

Along with the hazardous waste management changes for generators recently proposed by EPA, the e-manifest system will be another significant new development for thousands of companies regulated by RCRA and subject to hazardous waste manifest requirements.

CATEGORIES: Consumer Law and Environment, Hazmat, RCRA, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, TSCA, Water

February 18, 2016 Court Orders New EPA Spill Prevention Rules

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By E. Lynn Grayson

EPA has agreed to initiate rulemaking to better address industrial waste spills as part of a settlement with a coalition of environmental groups. The Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA), People Concerned About Chemical Safety (PCACS), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), sued EPA last July alleging that the Agency had failed to prevent hazardous substance spills from industrial facilities, including above ground storage tanks. See Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., case number 1:15-cv-05705, in the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York.

CATEGORIES: Cercla, Climate Change, Consumer Law and Environment, Hazmat, RCRA, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, TSCA

February 17, 2016 Jenner & Block Webinar: The Top Environmental, Health and Safety Issues for 2016 - What You Need to Know

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By Allison A. Torrence

On Tuesday, February 23rd, from 12:00– 1:15 pm CT, Jenner & Block Partners Lynn Grayson and Steven Siros will present a CLE webinar on The Top Environmental, Health and Safety Issues for 2016 - What You Need to Know.  The webinar will provide an overview of key environmental, health and safety issues in 2016 including the following topics:

  • Issues relating to the Corps’ jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act;
  • Fallout under the Safe Drinking Water Act after Flint;
  • U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan regulations, UNFCCC COP 21, and the potential regulation of aircraft GHG emissions;
  • Status of TSCA reform efforts;
  • Litigation relating to GMOs under FIFRA;
  • RCRA waste regulation amendments;
  • OSHA penalty updates;
  • U.S. EPA challenges;
  • Water scarcity and sustainability; and
  • Technological innovation and its impact on environmental practitioners.

To register for this free Webinar click here.

 

CATEGORIES: Air, Cercla, Climate Change, Consumer Law and Environment, FIFRA, Greenhouse Gas, Hazmat, OSHA, RCRA, Real Estate and Environment, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, TSCA, Water

PEOPLE: Allison A. Torrence, Steven M. Siros

January 29, 2016 Steven Siros Presenting at a Webinar on Chemical Fingerprinting

Torrence photo By Allison A. Torrence

On Wednesday, February 10, 2015 from 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Central), Partner Steven Siros will be presenting at a DRI webinar titled “Relying on Chemical Fingerprinting as a Line of Evidence in Allocation Proceedings”.  The webinar will provide insights on the technical aspects of chemical fingerprinting for a variety of contaminants, including PCBs, dioxins, and chlorinated solvents.  The webinar will also provide an overview of how courts have treated chemical fingerprinting from an expert witness standpoint as well as a case study demonstrating how this technique can be used to delineate co-mingled plumes. Michael Bock, with Ramboll Environ will also be presenting at the webinar.  Here is a link to the webinar brochure.

CATEGORIES: Cercla, Hazmat, RCRA, Real Estate and Environment, Toxic Tort, TSCA, Water

PEOPLE: Allison A. Torrence, Steven M. Siros

January 20, 2016 President Obama Appoints Water Czar to Address Flint Water Issues

Siros photoBy Steven M. SirosFlint water photo

Yesterday evening, the Department of Health and Human Services designated Dr. Nicole Lurie, an agency assistant secretary, to lead the federal government’s response to the elevated lead levels allegedly found in the drinking water being provided by the City of Flint, Michigan, to its residents.  This designation came on the heels of a meeting between Flint’s mayor and Valerie Jarrett in Washington, D.C.  The federal government has elected to play a significant role in addressing this crisis, with President Obama signing an emergency declaration on Saturday which provided Flint with access to up to $5 million in federal funds.  The crisis began in 2014 when Flint stopped getting water from Detroit and began obtaining its drinking water from the Flint River in an effort to lower costs. 

CATEGORIES: Cercla, Climate Change, Hazmat, RCRA, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, Water

PEOPLE: Steven M. Siros

January 8, 2016 Are Stricter U.S. EPA Pesticide Registration Reviews on the Table for 2016?

Bees and poppies photo Siros_Steven_COLORBy Steven M. Siros

In 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit vacated U.S. EPA’s registration of the insecticide sulfoxaflor, finding that U.S. EPA lacked adequate data to ensure that its registration would not harm non-target species, and more specifically, bees.  Following the 9th Circuit’s decision in September 2015, U.S. EPA reversed its position on two other pesticide registrations.  In October 2015, U.S. EPA indicated that it planned to ban the agricultural use of chlorpyrifos notwithstanding U.S. EPA's previously stated intention to work with industry to mitigate the risks as opposed to an outright ban.  In November 2015, U.S. EPA sought to voluntarily vacate its prior registration of Enlist Duo on the basis that U.S. EPA had obtained new data suggesting that the combined toxicity of its two ingredients (glyphosate and 2,4-D) was higher than originally believed.  U.S. EPA was facing litigation in the 9th Circuit with respect to both of these pesticides which likely played a role in those decisions.  In addition, U.S. EPA’s anticipated decision with respect to the reregistration of glyphosate has been delayed on multiple occasions and is now expected sometime in 2016. 

These actions are all suggestive that U.S. EPA has elected to adopt a more stringent approach with respect to its risk reviews of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodentcide Act (FIFRA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Such an approach is likely to result in significant delays in getting pesticide products registered and to the market. We will continue to follow these issues as we await U.S. EPA’s glyphosate reregistration decision which is likely to be the next significant U.S. EPA action in the FIFRA arena.

 

CATEGORIES: Air, Climate Change, FIFRA, Hazmat, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, TSCA, Water

PEOPLE: Steven M. Siros

December 29, 2015 U.S. EPA Releases 2015 Enforcement Statistics

Siros_Steven_COLORBy Steven M. Siros

The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("U.S. EPA") recently announced its 2015 enforcement statistics, noting that for fiscal year 2015, U.S. EPA initiated enforcement actions resulted in $404 million in penalties and fines.  In addition, companies were required to invest more than $7 billion to control pollution and remediate contaminated sites; convictions for environmental crimes resulted in 129 years of combined incarceration for convicted defendants; and there was a total of $39 million committed to environmental mitigation projects that benefited communities throughout the United States. 

The largest single penalty was the result of a Clean Air Act settlement with two automobile manufacturers that resulted in a $100 million penalty, forfeiture of emissions credits and more than $50 million being invested in pollution control and abatement measures.  U.S. EPA's 2015 enforcement numbers were up from 2014 ($100 million in fines and penalties collected in 2014).  

Please click here to go to U.S. EPA's 2015 enforcement statistics website.

 

 

CATEGORIES: Air, Cercla, Climate Change, Consumer Law and Environment, FIFRA, Greenhouse Gas, Hazmat, OSHA, RCRA, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, TSCA, Water

PEOPLE: Steven M. Siros

November 11, 2015 Lynn Grayson and Steven Siros Publish Article on U.S. Legal and Regulatory Developments in Nanotechnology

Allison Torrence photo

 By Allison A. Torrence

 

Lynn Grayson and Steven Siros have published an article in the most recent issue of DRI’s Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Newsletter titled Nanotechnology: U.S. Legal and Regulatory Developments. In the article, Ms. Grayson and Mr. Siros discuss how nanotechnology affects every sector of the U.S. economy and impacts our lives in a myriad of ways through the 1,600 nanotechnology-based consumer goods and products we use on a daily basis. The article provides an overview of how nanotechnology is defined, insights on the regulatory framework and recent developments, possible concerns about nanomaterial use, and risk management considerations for U.S. businesses utilizing nanotechnology.

The full article is available here.

CATEGORIES: Air, Consumer Law and Environment, FIFRA, Hazmat, OSHA, RCRA, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, TSCA, Water

PEOPLE: Steven M. Siros

October 27, 2015 IARC’s Classification of Red Meat and Processed Meats as Carcinogenic Exposes Food Manufacturers, Distributers, and Retailers to Proposition 65 Liability

Alexander Bandza Photo By Alexander J. Bandza

The Internet was buzzing yesterday with news that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified red meat as a Group 2A carcinogen (“probably carcinogenic to humans”) and processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen (“carcinogenic to humans”).  In general, IARC evaluates the environmental causes of cancer in humans, including chemicals (e.g., formaldehyde), complex mixtures (e.g., air pollution), physical agents (e.g., solar radiation), biological agents (e.g., hepatitis B virus), and personal habits (e.g., tobacco smoking).  IARC has long played a role as a source of scientific information that carries weight in federal and state regulation of potentially harmful substances and toxic tort lawsuits involving such substances.

CATEGORIES: Consumer Law and Environment, Sustainability, Toxic Tort

October 8, 2015 Sustainable Energy Developments

Grayson photoBy E. Lynn Grayson

Today Thomson Reuters’ published my blog, Executive Perspective: UN Sustainable Development Summit: Sustainable Energy Developments. The blog details the new 2030 UN Sustainability Development Agenda and how the recently adopted sustainable developments goals (SDGs) will influence sustainable energy growth around the world in the coming years.

Thomson Reuters’ Sustainability blog provides a wealth of information and resources on this important topic. I like to review the Editors’ Picks to get see the latest and most interesting sustainability developments.

CATEGORIES: Air, Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas, Hazmat, Real Estate and Environment, Sustainability, Toxic Tort, Water

September 18, 2015 Seventh Circuit Opens the Door for End Run on General Causation in Toxic Tort Cases

justice photoSiros photoBy Steven M. Siros

A recent decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals may significantly lower the causation bar for plaintiffs in toxic tort cases. In the case C.W. & E.W. v. Textron, Inc., the Seventh Circuit was called on to evaluate a district court decision that excluded plaintiffs' experts for failing to meet the admissibility requirements of Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The Seventh Circuit's analysis of the district court's decision was relatively straightforward and the Seventh Circuit acknowledged that the district court had carefully considered the methodology employed by plaintiffs' experts. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the district court had properly exercised its gatekeeper role under Daubert in concluding that there simply was too great an analytical gap between the data and the expert opinion being offered such that the opinion amounted to nothing more than the ipse dixit of the expert.

CATEGORIES: Toxic Tort

PEOPLE: Steven M. Siros