January 18, 2010 January 2010 Update: Environmental Lender Liability

By Gabrielle Sigel and Genevieve Essig

CERCLA Case Law Developments

  • District Court Finds Non-Settling PRP Can Intervene in CERCLA Consent Decree

    On January 15, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia held that a PRP’s right to contribution under CERCLA is a significantly protectable interest permitting a non-settling PRP to intervene as of right to challenge a consent decree between the federal government and a settling PRP. United States v. Exxon Mobil Corp., No. 08-124 (N.D. W. Va. Jan. 15, 2010).  In Exxon, U.S. EPA identified Vertellus Specialties, Inc. (“Vertellus”) and CBS Corporation (“CBS”) as PRPs for contamination at Big John’s Salvage Site (“BJS Site”), a former industrial site in Marion County, West Virginia, the remediation of which could cost more than $24 million.  Exxon, previously identified by EPA as a PRP due to its predecessor’s coke production activities nearby, had agreed to a consent decree under which it would pay the government $3 million in exchange for relief from liability for pollution at the BJS site and protection from contribution claims by other PRPs; Vertellus and CBS asserted that the decree unreasonably underestimates Exxon’s liability and sought intervention under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2) and CERCLA § 113(i).  Overruling EPA’s objections, the court granted Vertellus’s and CBS’s motions to intervene “for the limited purpose of challenging the proposed consent decree.” Exxon, No. 08-124, slip op. at 20.

CATEGORIES: Cercla, OSHA, RCRA, Water

PEOPLE: Gabrielle Sigel

January 13, 2010 A green economy: What lawyers need to know

Grayson PhotoBy E. Lynn Grayson

A media buzz surrounds the politically charged concept of developing a green economy by investing in initiatives that are good for the environment and financially beneficial for business.

CATEGORIES: Air, Climate Change

August 31, 2009 Water Scarcity: A Critical Climate Change Challenge for Business

Grayson photoBy E. Lynn Grayson

While reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the best known, most often debated climate change challenge, water scarcity is emerging as the more significant concern confronting the international environment. A report recently released by Ceres and the Pacific Institute, Water Scarcity & Climate Change: Growing Risks for Business & Investors, details the risks posed by the declining availability of water resources throughout the world.[1] The Ceres/Pacific Institute report concludes that climate change will exacerbate these water risks, especially as the world population grows by an expected 50 million a year. This report supports other recent findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluding that global warming will lead to changes in all components of the freshwater system and that water and its availability and quantity will be the main pressures on, and issues for, societies and the environment under climate change.[2]

CATEGORIES: Water