NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana erred when denying BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s request for discretionary review of a Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) appeals panel’s decision affirming a $1.4 million award to a player for the New Orleans Hornets who claimed that he lost income as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled March 20 (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID No. 100281817, No. 18-30394, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 8325).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on March 19 ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to take a “hard look” at the impact its approval of hydraulic fracturing drilling leases would have on climate change and enjoined the agency from authorizing more drilling in Wyoming while the BLM satisfies its obligations under federal law (WildEarth Guardians, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, No. 16-1724, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44995).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 18 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana’s decision to decline discretionary review of a Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) appeals panel’s decision to uphold a $14.5 million award to a nonprofit that sought compensation under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, holding that panel’s ruling did not misapply the settlement agreement and did not vary from other rulings (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID100217946, No. 18-30147, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7918).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 18 affirmed the dismissal of claims brought by 337 Mexican fishermen seeking compensation under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, finding that a federal judge in Louisiana did not err when holding that the plaintiffs failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to file sworn statements documenting that they were fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico at the time of the oil spill (In re Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30936, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7914).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on March 15 approved a settlement under which former Chapter 11 debtor Armstrong World Industries Inc. will pay $1 million to current debtors Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement Inc. for cleanup cost recovery for a polluted Oregon manufacturing site (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts on March 14 denied ExxonMobil Corp.’s motion to dismiss a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit accusing the company of violating the terms of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit regarding the discharge of stormwater from a storage facility by failing to consider the effects of climate change and allowed the company to subpoena the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for testimony regarding the applicability of the primary jurisdiction doctrine (Conservation Law Foundation v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. 16cv11950, D. Mass.).
TACOMA, Wash. — An organic chemical manufacturer that supplied a spongy waste material that contained plant nutrients and some hazardous substances to the owner of three farms that in turn used the material for fertilizer cannot seek contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a federal judge in Washington ruled March 5, holding that the maker’s consent decree with the Washington Department of Ecology did not allow it to pursue the claim (Emerald Kamala Chemical LLC v. Fire Mountain Farms Inc., No. C17-5472, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35206).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should reverse a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals finding that the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from a Canadian industrial polluter of the Columbia River for enforcement actions taken under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the company liable for the pollution says in a petition for certiorari docketed March 6 (Teck Metals Ltd. v. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, et al., No. 18-1160, U.S. Sup.).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on March 1 refused to sever claims brought by the San Diego Unified Port District and city of San Diego against Monsanto Co. over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the San Diego Bay, finding that fundamental fairness and judicial economy weigh against severance (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33236).
SAN DIEGO — Following remand from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a federal judge in California held March 1 that the federal government should reimburse a military contractor for 10 percent of the costs the company incurred in remediating contamination from chlorinated solvents and 5 percent of the costs the company incurred in remediating chromium contamination at a 44-acre site the contractor used to manufacture aircraft and aircraft parts (TDY Holdings LLC v. United States, No. 07-CV-787-CAB-BGS, S.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34162).
CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 4 upheld a federal magistrate judge in Illinois’ ruling denying requests from the owner of a golf course and nearby residents for additional cleanup of a site that formerly housed a manufacturing plant operated by General Electric Co. (GE) of the property, holding that the magistrate judge’s finding that the company was liable for contamination under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) does not automatically warrant injunctive relief (LAJIM LLC, et al. v. General Electric Co., Nos. 18-1522, 18-2880, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6519).
CHICAGO — A port district’s lawsuit against a company that formerly produced manufactured gas was remanded March 4 by a federal judge who ruled that the port district’s action does not raise federal question jurisdiction because the allegations do not seek to challenge a remediation plan approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Waukegan Port District v. North Shore Gas Co., No. 18 CV 7312, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33690).
SEATTLE — The Port of Seattle’s motion to dismiss a suit brought by an environmental group accusing it of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by allowing for excessive levels of stormwater discharges was denied March 4 by a federal judge in Washington, who found that non-permit holders can also face liability under the act (Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. Total Terminals International LLC, No. C18-0540RSL, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34042).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge on Feb. 28 mostly declined to dismiss claims for recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act leveled by the Navajo Nation, New Mexico and Utah against the U.S. government for damages caused by the 2015 Gold King Mine explosion and acid mine drainage spill (In Re: Gold King Mine Release, No. 1:18-md-02824, D. N.M., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33321).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Feb. 28 granted the federal government’s motion for leave to appeal an Oct. 5 decision denying its motion to dismiss the government of Guam’s claim for cost recovery under Section 107(a) of the a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), explaining that there is substantial ground for a difference of opinion with regard to how the court interpreted a 2004 settlement agreement between Guam and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and whether the agreement allowed Guam to pursue the claim (Government of Guam v. United States, No. 17-cv-2487, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS).
CLEVELAND — An insured city’s umbrella insurers are not necessary and indispensable parties in a suit filed by primary insurers seeking a declaration that their policies’ pollution exclusions bar coverage for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act because not all of the umbrella policies include pollution exclusions that are identical to the exclusions the primary policies, an Ohio federal judge said March 1 in denying the city’s motion to dismiss an intervenor’s complaint filed by one of the city’s umbrella insurers (National Fire Insurance of Hartford, et al. v. Willoughby, No. 17-1392, N.D. Ohio, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33045).
DETROIT — A federal judge in Michigan on Feb. 28 denied as untimely a motion to intervene in a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) action related to groundwater contamination, the remediation of which is already the subject of a consent decree between a state environmental agency and the company responsible for the contamination (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality v. Ford Motor Co., No. 17-12372, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31703).
SEATTLE — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 19 upheld a man’s conviction for one count of violating the Clean Water Act, holding that the government presented sufficient evidence showing that he was “fully aware” that a vessel he owned was discharging illegal amounts of oil (United States v. Bingham Fox, No. 17-30147, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4786)
ATLANTA — An insured claims in a Feb. 13 complaint filed in Georgia federal court that its insurer breached its contract in denying coverage under a pollution liability policy for clean-up costs and damages incurred as a result of the release of gasoline from one of the insured’s pipelines (Colonial Pipeline Co. v. AIG Specialty Insurance Co., No. 19-762, N.D. Ga.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 18 found that a federal judge in Louisiana did not err when dismissing a lawsuit brought by two claimants seeking economic losses caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010, holding that the plaintiffs released their claims after obtaining payouts from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30921, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4734).