SEATTLE — A federal judge in Washington on July 25 ruled that environmental groups that successfully resolved a lawsuit accusing BNSF Railway Co. of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by allowing coal dust from railcars to migrate into waterways could recover $298,331.14 in costs but limited the amount the groups could recover for fees their attorneys charged for block billing and for litigating claims against non-BSNF parties (Sierra Club, et al. v. BNSF Railway Company, No. C13-0967-JCC, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116442).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A federal magistrate judge in California on July 24 refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by an environmental conservation group against the owner of a site that allegedly discharges excessive levels of polluted storm water, holding that the owner’s decision to terminate a general permit does not render the group’s claims moot (California Sportfishing Protection Alliance v. Shiloh Group, LLC, et al., No. 16-cv-6499-DMR, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115209).
HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas on July 21 denied a defendant company’s motion for partial summary judgment in a suit over cleanup costs at a Superfund site, finding that genuine disputes exist as to whether the company disposed of grease on the property (USOR Site PRP Group v. A&M Contractors, Inc., et al., No. 14-CV-2441, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114531).
DENVER — A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 19 ruled that the federal government can be liable for some cleanup costs at a New Mexico mine as an owner under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) because it owned a piece of national forest that was used to dump mine tailings (Chevron Mining Inc. v. United States, et al., No. 15-2209, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12959).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A collection of environmental advocacy groups on July 20 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq., contending that the agency should be ordered to reply to the groups’ petition concerning Texas refinery permits (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-1439, D. D.C.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 19 affirmed a federal judge’s ruling to uphold an appeal denying individual economic loss (IEL) claims submitted by three corporate officers of an architectural firm to the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) for the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement, finding that the terms of the agreement do not allow for double recovery because the officers’ business and economic loss (BEL) claim had previously been approved (In re: Deepwater Horizon [Lake Eugene Land & Development, Inc., et al. v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al.], No. 16-30457, 5th Cir.).
PEORIA, Ill. — A federal judge in Illinois on July 18 denied a request by defendant companies seeking to have a jury decide if they should pay a civil penalty for violating the Clean Air Act (CAA), finding that the statute specifically states that the court will assess what penalty should be imposed (Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Illinois Power Resources LLC, et al., No. 13-CV-1181, C.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111556).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 18 ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to explain to two environmental groups why the agency relied on surrogates to determine maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for emissions of three hazardous air pollutants when implementing a final rule entered in June 2015, after denying the agency’s motion to dismiss the groups’ petition as untimely (Sierra Club, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 15-1246, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12842).
NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey federal magistrate judge on July 14 granted an insured’s motion to consolidate a subrogation lawsuit filed by a property owner against an insured and an insurance coverage lawsuit filed against the insured after determining that the suits involve common questions of law regarding subrogation of costs and coverage for a property contaminated with mercury (BRG Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal LLC v. General Electric Company, et al., and Evanston Insurance Co. v. Accredited Environmental Technologies Inc., et al., Nos. 16-6577, 17-1584, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109447).
PHILADELPHIA — A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced July 13 that Jubilant Cadista Pharmaceuticals Inc. has agreed to pay a $35,000 penalty for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by improperly storing lab solvents and corrosive cleaner waste at its Salisbury, Md., facility.
SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge in Utah on July 11 stayed a lawsuit brought by American Smelting and Refining Co. LLC (ASARCO) seeking contribution toward $8.7 million it has spent remediating a former mining site near Park City, Utah, pending the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of a cleanup plan (ASARCO LLC v. Noranda Mining Inc., No.12-cv-527 DN, D. Utah, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107957).
NEW YORK — A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 11 denied a motion filed by oil companies seeking a rehearing regarding a June 12 ruling in which the appeals court reversed a summary judgment ruling in favor of the companies on the ground that a lawsuit brought by the Orange County Water District (OCWD) was not barred by the doctrine of res judicata (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation: Orange County Water District v. Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc. n/k/a TMR Company, No. 15-3934, 2nd Cir.).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Three companies that own, lease and manage properties on Crown Street in New Haven, Conn., cannot pursue claims that the New Haven Regional Water Pollution Control Authority (RWPCA) and the city of New Haven violated the Clean Water Act (CWA), a federal judge in Connecticut ruled July 11, holding that the plaintiff companies lacked standing (26 Crown Street Associates LLC, et al. v. Greater New Haven Regional Water Pollution Control Authority, et al., No. 15-cv-1439, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106989).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on July 6 found that the owner of a site in Elmira, Calif., was jointly and severally liable for groundwater contamination under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and that damages should be awarded at a later date (California Department of Toxic Substances Control v. David Van Over, No. 14-0595, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106814).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A 2-1 panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 7 struck portions of a 2015 rule implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to cut down on “sham recycling,” a tactic some companies claim to use to say that materials actually get discarded, finding that some parts of the rule were “draconian” (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., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12142).
SPOKANE, Wash. — A federal judge in Washington on July 10 dismissed amended counterclaims asserted by Monsanto Co., Pharmacia Corp. and Solutia Inc. (collectively, Monsanto) seeking cost recovery from the city of Spokane for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the Spokane River, finding that the new allegations did not remedy the deficiencies in the original counterclaims (City of Spokane v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15-CV-00201-SMJ, E.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106136).
HOUSTON — An insurer has a duty to defend its insureds in an underlying environmental contamination suit because the policy’s exclusions for pollution and use of an auto do not apply to bar coverage, a Texas federal judge said July 7 in granting the insureds’ motion for summary judgment (USA Environment, L.P. et al., v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co. n/k/a AIG Specialty Insurance Co., No. 16-2216, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104962).
CINCINNATI — A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel majority on June 30 reversed a district court’s finding that a 1989 settlement agreement regarding environmental cleanup costs bars all potential claims for environmental contamination arising out of two of the insured’s battery plants after determining that the settlement agreement pertains only to coverage for one of the battery plants (Employers Insurance of Wausau, et al. v. McGraw Edison Company, No. 16-1264, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11773).
DENVER — A Colorado bottling company on June 26 entered into an agreement with the federal government and the state of Colorado in which it would install controls to limit emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide and pay a $475,000 civil penalty to resolve allegations that it was violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) (United States of America, et al. v. Rocky Mountain Bottle Company LLC, No. 17-cv-1554, D. Colo.).
BECKLEY, W.Va. — A West Virginia federal judge on July 7 granted an insurer’s motion for summary judgment in an environmental remediation coverage suit after determining that the insured’s claims for breach of contract and bad faith were not filed within the applicable statute of limitations (R.T. Rogers Oil Company Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Company, No. 16-1390, S.D. W.Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105150).