WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-one oil companies on March 31 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel’s ruling affirming remand of a climate change suit brought by the mayor and city council of Baltimore, holding that there is a split among the circuit courts on whether review of such rulings is limited to the applicability of the federal officer doctrine (BP PLC, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, No. 19-1189, U.S. Sup.).
BALTIMORE — A federal judge in Maryland on March 31 denied a motion to dismiss the mayor and city council of Baltimore’s lawsuit against Monsanto Co. and two of its predecessors who made polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) over contamination that passed through the city’s municipal separate stormwater system (MS4) and into bodies of water, finding that plaintiffs had standing to bring their claims and that they were sufficiently stated (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. RDB-19-0483, D. Md., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55265).
INDIANAPOLIS — A former landowner seeking to recover $1.7 million under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for past response costs it incurred in remediating vapor intrusion and groundwater contamination is liable for half of those costs, while two other companies that own or owned upgradient properties are liable for the other half, a federal judge in Indiana ruled March 30 (Von Duprin LLC v. Moran Electric Service Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-01942-TWP-DML, S.D. Ind., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54789).
WHEELING, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on March 24 ruled that two environmental groups can pursue a Clean Water Act (CWA) claim that a company’s discharges of mercury into the Ohio River exceed levels of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, finding that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is not diligently pursuing an action against the defendant company’s predecessor following the entry of a 2013 consent decree (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Eagle Natrium LLC, No. 19-CV-236, N.D. W.Va., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51247).
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Unified Port District’s claims for public nuisance and abatement stemming from polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the San Diego Bay survived motions for summary judgment filed by Monsanto Co. and others when a federal judge in California ruled March 26 that the plaintiff had standing to bring the public nuisance claim and that its request for abatement was ripe for adjudication (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 15-cv-578-WQH-AGS, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. 52723).
TRENTON, N.J. — Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. (GPMI) and its successors on Feb. 27 agreed to pay $22 million to resolve claims against them brought by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) related to groundwater contamination from the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) that leaked from underground storage tanks (USTs) at various gas stations. The settlement was authorized by a New Jersey federal judge in a joint consent order (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Amerada Hess Corp., et al., No. 15-6468, D. N.J.).
INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge in Indiana on March 25 ruled that a lead smelting company’s inexplicable delay in filing a state law cleanup action lawsuit warranted its dismissal, finding that the state law’s statute of limitations period directly conflicts with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act’s three-year limitations period (Refined Metals Corp. v. NL Industries Inc., No. 19-cv-4578-JMS-DLP, S.D. Ind., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51512).
BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts on March 21 stayed an environmental group’s lawsuit accusing ExxonMobil Corp., ExxonMobil Oil Corp. and ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at one of its terminals, finding that the action should not proceed until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency renders a decision on the renewal of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (Conservation Law Foundation Inc. v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. 16-11950-MLW, D. Mass., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49270).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Indian tribes that want the owner of a Superfund site to continue to pay an annual $1.5 million use permit fee to store millions of tons of toxic waste on private land within their reservation have stretched the landmark jurisdictional ruling in Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544 (1981), too far, the property owner tells the U.S. Supreme Court in a March 16 petition for certiorari (FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, No. 19-1143, U.S. Sup.).
ERIE, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on March 20 granted the government’s motion to strike exhibits filed as part of a farm owner’s redrafted motion to vacate a consent decree in a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit, holding that a previously undisclosed expert report challenges a previously made determination that the parcel of land at issue is a wetland under the statute (United States v. Robert Brace, et al., No. 90-229E, W.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48326).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ten settlements with insurers of Chapter 11 debtor Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. that will bring more than $50 million to an escrow fund to pay for the cleanup of two polluted sites in Washington state received approval March 12, according to a North Carolina federal bankruptcy court docket entry (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
LOS ANGELES — Numerous plaintiffs sued chrome plating companies in California federal court on March 18, contending that they have violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and are responsible for groundwater contamination from hexavalent chromium and various solvents (Arconic Inc., et al. v. Cal-Tron Plating Inc., et al., No. 20-2586, C.D. Calif.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. government on March 16 filed a brief in Ohio federal court in support of a consent decree that would settle a lawsuit for injunctive relief and civil penalties against a hydraulic fracturing company for violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at multiple oil and gas production facilities the government contends are liable for contaminating the air with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (United States v. Gulfport Energy Corporation, No. 20-340, S.D. Ohio).
LOS ANGELES — The federal government, state of California and Plains All American Pipeline L.P. on March 13 entered into an agreement in federal court in California in which the company agreed to pay more than $60 million in civil penalties and damages to resolve allegations stemming from a May 2015 pipeline spill on a beach near Santa Barbara, Calif., that resulted in the discharge of 2,934 barrels of crude oil (United States, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline L.P., et al., No. 20-2415, C.D. Calif.).
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Electric and Power Co., doing business as Dominion Energy Virginia, on March 13 entered into an agreement with the federal government and state of Virginia in federal court in Virginia that requires the company to pay $1.4 million to resolve allegations that discharges from coal ash pond at two of its facilities violated the Clean Water Act (CWA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and state laws (United States, et al. v. Virginia Electric and Power Co., No. 20-cv-00177, E.D. Va.).
BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on March 11 affirmed a trial court judge’s ruling imposing civil penalties and entering an injunction against a man accused by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) of operating an unpermitted solid waste facility, holding that grass clippings and leaves constitute solid waste under the state’s Solid Waste Management Rules and finding that the agency’s enforcement action was timely (Idaho Department of Environmental Quality v. David R. Gibson, et al., No. 46217, Idaho Sup., 2020 Ida. LEXIS 48).
YUMA, Ariz. — A regional branch of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on March 6 announced that it had reached a settlement with a company that stores and distributes produce from a facility in Yuma, Ariz., over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) stemming from the company’s failure to properly manage the storage of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical used in the refrigeration system at the site and that can be corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs.
INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana appeals panel on March 4 overturned a trial court’s ruling vacating an administrative appeals board’s decision that held that the city of Indianapolis and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) erred when issuing a no further action (NFA) letter regarding remediation work, holding that the city and the agency used the proper guidelines when deciding that the cleanup work sufficiently reduced levels of hazardous substances (Indianapolis, et al. v. Moran Electric Service Inc., No. 18A-PL-3055, Ind. App., 2020 Ind. App. Unpub. LEXIS 277).
DENVER — Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc. on March 6 agreed to pay $9 million to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for emissions and operating and monitoring violations that occurred at its Commerce City, Colo., refinery between 2017 and 2019, the department announced, stating that it is the largest payment the state has received for violations at one facility (In the Matter of Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc., Nos. 2019-097, 2019-194, Colo. Dept. Public Health & Envir.).
HONOLULU — The city and county of Honolulu on March 9 filed a lawsuit in state court accusing 20 fossil fuel producers of public nuisance, trespass and strict liability for their conduct in marketing and promoting their products despite knowing that the burning of fossil fuels contributes to climate change (City and County of Honolulu v. Sunoco LP, et al., No. 1CCV-2020-0000380, Hawaii Cir., 1st Cir.).