CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on Sept. 16 approved a settlement under which the United States will have more than $4 million in allowed claims in the joint Chapter 11 case of Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement Inc. as the debtors’ share of cleanup costs at a Washington Superfund site (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 17 dismissed as moot a petition filed by 24 states challenging the regulations of the Clean Power Plan, finding that the petition is moot since the legislation has been repealed and replaced with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule (State of West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-1363, U.S. App., D.C. Cir.).
PEORIA, Ill. — Illinois Power Resources Generating LLC (IPRG) and three environmental groups said in press releases issued Sept. 16 that the company has agreed to shut down its E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant by the end of 2022 and spend $8.6 million to fund workforce development and public health and environmental projects to benefit nearby communities to resolve a 2013 lawsuit accusing the company of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) (Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Ameren Energy Resources Co. LLC, et al., No. 13-cv-1181, C.D. Ill.).
HANNIBAL, Mo. — Following a four-day bench trial, a federal judge in Missouri on Sept. 12 found that the former owner of a small appliance manufacturing site in Macon, Mo., was liable for 96 percent of trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination at the site, holding that the evidence showed that the contamination occurred in 1983 when a pinhole leak in an above-ground storage tank (AST) was discovered (Cooper Industries LLC v. Spectrum Brands Inc., No. 16-cv-39, E.D. Mo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155776).
BALTIMORE — A federal judge in Maryland on Sept. 4 partially granted and partially denied motions to dismiss a methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) groundwater contamination case against multiple gasoline companies brought by the state of Maryland, on grounds that the state established causation for some, but not all, of its claims (Maryland v. Exxon Mobil Corp., et al., No. ELH-18-459, D. Md., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150177).
NEW YORK — The state of New York can require a company to remediate a contaminated site in Buffalo, N.Y., pursuant to a 2002 consent decree, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 10, finding that the state anticipated that the company would clean up contamination that was known to be at the site when the parties entered into the agreement (New York v. PVS Chemicals Inc., No. 18-2537-cv, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 27193).
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on Sept. 5 remanded a lawsuit brought by two Colorado counties and the city of Boulder against Suncor Energy (U.S.A) Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp. over damages stemming from climate change, ruling that the counties’ allegations do not arise from federal law or invoke the Clean Air Act (CAA) (Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County, et al. v. Suncor Energy [U.S.A.] Inc., et al., No. 18-cv-1672-WJM-SKC, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151578).
CINCINNATI — A federal judge in Kentucky did not err when dismissing a company’s lawsuit challenging the terms of an agreement for the allocation of costs to clean up a Superfund site, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 6, finding that the plaintiff company waived its ability to challenge the enforceability of a judicial review clause by seeking arbitration in 2017 (PolyOne Corp. v. Westlake Vinyls Inc., No. 19-5137, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 26908).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Tennessee-based environmental groups on Sept. 4 filed a motion in the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss an appeal of a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling over whether the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) discharges from coal ash storage ponds violate the Clean Water Act (CWA), explaining that the parties had reached a settlement (Tennessee Clean Water Network, et al. v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 18-1307, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 23 granted the solicitor general’s motion to participate in oral arguments in a case brought by environmental groups claiming that a Hawaii county should be required under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for discharges from a point source that reach the Pacific Ocean through soil and groundwater (Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, et al., No. 18-260, U.S. Sup.).
EL DORADO, Ark. — The federal government and state of Arkansas on Aug. 30 filed a consent decree in Arkansas federal court in which an energy company and its subsidiary agreed to pay a $2.3 million civil penalty to resolve allegations that they violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) for discharges of oil that occurred after a March 2013 spill that resulted in the release of 5,890 gallons of crude oil into a nearby creek (United States v. Delek Logistics Operating LLC, et al., No. 18-cv-1040, W.D. Ark.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The solicitor general told the U.S. Supreme Court in an amicus curiae brief filed Aug. 28 on behalf of the federal government in support of Atlantic Richfield Co. that it should vacate a Montana Supreme Court ruling denying the company’s motion for summary judgment because landowners’ claims for restoration damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) are preempted (Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Gregory A. Christian, et al., No. 17-1498, U.S. Sup.).
HOUSTON — An insurer has no duty to indemnify its insureds under a pollution liability policy for legal fees incurred in an underlying criminal proceeding arising out of environmental contamination caused by the insureds’ operation of a landfill because the legal fees do not constitute cleanup costs under the policy, a Texas federal judge said Aug. 27 (Waste Management Inc., et al. v. AIG Specialty Insurance Co., No. 16-3676, S.D. Texas).
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court on Aug. 29 determined that California’s common-law notice-prejudice rule is a fundamental public policy and should be applied to a policy’s notice provision and consent provision in an environmental contamination coverage suit (Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Co., No. S239510, Calif. Sup., 2019 Cal. LEXIS 6240).
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (PRIDCO) on Aug. 19 filed a notice in a federal court in Puerto Rico that it is appealing to the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals the lower court’s ruling ordering it to pay $5.3 million to the government for costs incurred pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) related to remediation of toxins at the Maunabo Area Groundwater Contamination Superfund site (United States v. Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, No. 15-2328, D. Puerto Rico).
TRENTON, N.J. — An expert’s testimony that contaminated groundwater containing the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) traveled from the site of a gas station with underground storage tanks (USTs) to domestic water supply wells is reliable because it is based on sound methodology, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled Aug. 28 in denying three defendant companies’ motions to exclude the expert’s opinions under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Amerada Hess Corp., et al., No. 15-6468, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146336).
CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 22 affirmed a ruling finding that a claim for contribution brought under Section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) was untimely, holding that the statute of limitations period began to run in 1998 when the plaintiff company entered into agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) (Refined Metals Corp. v. NL Industries Inc., No. 18-3235, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25155).
SEATTLE — A Washington appeals panel on Aug. 19 found that companies that handled logs in the Port of Anacortes, Wash., could be required to contribute toward remediation costs under the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), finding that while the wood debris is not a hazardous substance under the act, the decomposition of wood debris results in the release of hazardous substances such as benzene and ammonia (Port of Anacortes v. Frontier Industries Inc., et al., No. 78726-8-I, Wash. App., 1st Div., 2019 Wash. App. LEXIS 2194).
LAKE CHARLES, La. — An excess commercial general liability insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured against an underlying environmental contamination lawsuit because the damages alleged in the underlying suit occurred outside of the insurer’s policy periods, a Louisiana federal judge said Aug. 16 in granting the excess insurer’s motion for summary judgment (Admiral Insurance Co. v. Zadeck Energy Group Inc., No. 16-912, W.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139334).
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A federal judge in Puerto Rico on July 26 granted a motion to stay a groundwater contamination lawsuit pending an appeal by an industrial development company that was ordered to pay $5.3 million to the government for costs incurred pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) related to remediation of toxins at the Maunabo Area Groundwater Contamination Superfund site (United States v. Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co., No. 15-2328, D. Puerto Rico).