NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 14 held that a federal judge in Mississippi did not err when refusing to hold separate trials for claims brought against two consultants who created fake claimants for benefits under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages settlement, finding that the defendants were not prejudiced by their co-defendants’ defenses (United States of America v. Gregory P. Warren, et al., No. 16-60843, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 6352).
LIBERTY, Texas — The state of Texas and the county in which a chemical plant that was damaged in Hurricane Harvey was located filed a lawsuit in state court on March 8, seeking more than $1 million in damages from the company that operated the plant due to chemical contamination of the air and local water supply (Liberty County, Texas, et al. v. Arkema Inc., No. CV1813081, Texas Dist., 253rd Jud. Dist., Liberty Co.).
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The owner of the Bunker Hill Mine and the lessee of the facility on March 12 agreed to pay $20 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reimburse the agency for money it has spent treating acid mine drainage, cover the future costs of treating the wastewater and resume mining operations after a two-decade hiatus, according to a consent decree filed in Idaho federal court (United States v. Placer Mining Co., et al., No. 04cv126, D. Idaho).
NEW YORK — A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 12 held that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) waived its authority to review a request for water quality certification under the Clean Water Act as part of an application for the construction of a natural gas pipeline because it failed to respond to the application within one year (New York Department of Environmental Conservation v. Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, No. 17-3770-ag, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 6033).
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal on March 12 announced that three petroleum companies that are defendants in a lawsuit brought by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will pay a combined $196.5 million to settle claims that they are liable for contaminating the state’s groundwater with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation, No. 00-1898, MDL 1358, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 08-0312, S.D. N.Y.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — The California Environmental Protection Agency cannot amend a lawsuit accusing two companies of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) to add new claims concerning discharges at a different facility, a federal magistrate judge ruled March 9, finding that the new allegations would unnecessarily complicate the case (California Environmental Protection Agency v. Sonoma Soil Builders LLC, et al., No. 15-CV-4880, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39338).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 6 found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not err when adding a company’s mine to the National Priorities List (NPL) without first scoring it under the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) because the site is considered an area between sources of contamination that does not need to be scored (Sunnyside Gold Corp. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1417, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 5927).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Home Depot U.S.A. has agreed to pay $27.8 million to resolve allegation brought by the state of California that it violated the Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL) and California’s unfair competition law (UCL) by illegally storing and disposing of hazardous wastes at its stores and facilities, according to a March 7 filing in California state court (California v. Home Depot U.S.A., No. RG18893251, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 7 denied a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking reversal of an order denying its motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by 21 individuals accusing the defendants of contributing to climate change, holding that the issues raised would be better addressed through the course of ordinary litigation (United States of America, et al. v. United States District Court for the District of Oregon, No. 17-71692, 9th Cir.).
DENVER — A federal magistrate judge in Colorado on March 5 recommended dismissal of a lawsuit brought by three individuals and two environmental conservation groups, finding that their notice of intent failed to sufficiently allege that a mining company and its managing member violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Pamela Stone, et al. v. High Mountain Mining Co. LLC, et al., No. 17-cv-01295, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34932).
SAN FRANCISCO — Public nuisance claims brought by the residents of San Francisco and Oakland claiming that sellers of fossil fuels knew but concealed the risks of global warming are subject to federal law, a judge in California ruled Feb. 27 in denying the municipalities’ motion to remand (People of the State of California v. BP PLC, et al., Nos. 17-06011, 17-06012, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32990).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 6 amended its 2017 ruling that trimmed portions of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that was designed to cut down on “sham recycling” after hearing petitions for rehearing (American Petroleum Institute, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 09-1038, consolidated with 15-1083, 15-1085, 15-1088, 15-1089, 15-1094, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5613).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — No coverage is owed for environmental contamination at a number of sites throughout the country because it is not clear that the contamination was caused solely by the insured’s operations and the policies at issue provide coverage only for contamination that was caused by the insured’s operations, the Pennsylvania Superior Court said Feb. 26 (Consolidated Rail Corp. v. ACE Property & Casualty Insurance Co., et al., No. 1376 EDA 2015, Pa. Super., 2018 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 578).
PHILADELPHIA — A group of Pennsylvania residents on March 2 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court arguing that “in order to prevent manifest injustice,” the district court should reconsider a previous ruling in the plaintiffs’ groundwater contamination lawsuit against a group of chemical companies because “the Plaintiffs are the victims of an indefinite stay . . . for which there is no basis” (Hanah Bates, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-4961, E.D. Pa.).
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on March 1 approved an updated consent decree that requires the operator of a former wood preservation facility to remove contaminated soil from a site where it conducted operations and pay $57,450.38 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for past cleanup costs (California Department of Toxic Substances Control v. Coast Wood Preserving Inc., et al., No. 96-CV-6055, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33782).
DENVER — The buyer of two remediated parcels of land lacks standing to enforce a consent decree between the federal government and defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) action to obtain a declaration that a defendant company violated the agreement when conveying a railroad right of way during a separate real estate transaction, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 23 (United States of America v. Colorado & Eastern Railroad Co., No. 16-1374, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4345).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Feb. 20 denied the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion to stay proceedings in a suit over whether it failed to comply with its requirement under the Clean Water Act to approve or disapprove water quality standards submitted by the state, finding that nine environmental groups would be prejudiced by the delay (Riverkeeper Inc., et al. v. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 17-CV-4916, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26960).
TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey appeals court panel on Feb. 12 found that while four environmental groups could appeal a trial court judge’s ruling approving a $225 million settlement between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and Exxon Mobil Corp., the judge did not err when finding that the agreement was reasonable and consistent with the goals of the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, Nos. A-0668-15T1, A-0810-15T1, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2018 N.J. Super. LEXIS 23).
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on Feb. 15 found that a waste-processing company could not pursue claims that a port district violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when constructing piers in the 1960s and 1970s using contaminated materials because the plaintiff did not provide sufficient presuit notification to inform the district about the alleged violations (Clean Harbors Services Inc. v. Illinois International Port District, No. 12-CV-7837, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24583).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — No coverage is owed to insureds seeking a defense for an underlying suit alleging bodily injury claims caused by the release of chlorine gas from the insureds’ scrap metal recycling plant because the policies’ absolute pollution exclusion clearly precludes coverage for the underlying suit, a New York federal judge said Feb. 13 (Ben Weitsman & Son of Scranton LLC, et al. v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-0780, N.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22970).