ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge in New Mexico on May 31 declined to enter an order that two government contractors working at the Gold King Mine Superfund site were not entitled to the government contractor’s defense in a multidistrict litigation, finding that the contractors had shown genuine issues of material fact regarding differences between state and federal law and the scope of their work in connection with the release of a large amount of acid mine drainage and heavy metals into nearby rivers.
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court on May 22 granted a chemical company’s petition for review of issues of causation and expert witness testimony regarding alleged damages to cotton crops from aerially applied herbicide.
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 26 held that the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial of the government’s recoupment and subrogation claims under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), finding that the claims sound in law, rather than in equity. The court partially vacated and reversed a trial court’s ruling for the government in its suit against the owners of an oil treatment facility who refused to repay the costs of an oil spill cleanup, remanding for a jury trial.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Citing their own prior opinions and the doctrine of stare decisis, the Maryland Court of Appeals on June 1 said the Maryland Department of the Environment can place conditions on operators of small municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) that exceed the minimum requirements of the Clean Water Act.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on June 4 said that he will allow a second amended complaint in an action against two California cities over alleged bacteria pollution into the San Francisco Bay, rejecting claims by the defendants that the proposed amendments will impermissibly alter the scope of the litigation.
SEATTLE — A joint motion by an environmental group and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stay a December 2021 order that gave the agency 180 days to comply with its obligations under the Clean Water Act was rejected June 2 by a federal judge in Washington.
SEATTLE — Although acknowledging that an oyster hatchery accused of violating the Clean Water Act has cooperated with a Washington state agency in obtaining a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, a federal judge in Washington on June 3 nonetheless lifted a stay in the case entered nearly three years ago.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Allegations of negligence and strict liability leveled against a company that contracted to dispose of nuclear waste cannot arise under the Price Anderson Act (PAA) when the company was not a participant in the statute’s insurance and indemnification scheme and never conducted activities related to a contract with the federal government, a group of property owners told the U.S. Supreme Court in a May 11 petition for certiorari.
BOSTON — Two citizen groups on May 19 filed a petition in the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seeking review of the Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Appeals Board’s rejection of their challenge of a revision to a corrective action permit issued by the EPA requiring General Electric (GE) to remediate contamination it caused to the Housatonic River.
NEW YORK — Following eviction proceedings and an entry of default, a New York federal magistrate judge recommended awarding damages to a property owner for environmental remediation, back rent and other cleanup costs after tenants operating a laundromat violated the terms of their lease by allowing hazardous materials and toxic chemicals to permeate the property and its surrounding area.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio appellate court on May 26 affirmed a trial court’s imposition of a $13.6 million civil penalty against the operators of an unlicensed construction and demolition debris facility who were accused by the state of creating a public nuisance.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — An administrative law court (ALC) erred when it affirmed the issuance of various agricultural permits for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) because the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s evaluation of the permits failed to “consider all factors set forth” in state regulations for permitting of agricultural facilities, the South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled May 25.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court in a May 26 miscellaneous order refused to disturb a stay recently entered by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals of a Louisiana federal judge’s preliminary injunction halting efforts by the government to craft and implement a “Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas Estimates” (SC-GHG) damages model.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — No coverage is owed for sediment runoff into a neighboring pond created by an insured’s construction project because the policy’s pollution exclusion bars coverage as sediment runoff qualifies as pollution according to the policy’s definition of pollution, a Georgia federal judge said May 25 in granting an insurer’s motion for summary judgment.
NEW ORLEANS — In a May 16 reply brief filed with the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says “nothing in the Atomic Energy Act authorized nuclear waste facilities,” urging the panel to vacate a license granted by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the construction and operation of a spent nuclear storage facility in the state.
DAYTON, Ohio — In a May 13 motion to dismiss filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) says that not only can it not be named as a defendant in a citizen suit under the Clean Air Act but also that an underlying citizen suit against it fails entirely because the state “has diligently prosecuted” the alleged air quality violations by a bioenergy company, which filed its own motion to dismiss on May 16.
BOSTON — Acting on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stood by its 2020 findings that public nuisance, failure to warn and more by the State of Rhode Island against the oil and gas industry were improperly removed to federal court.
DENVER — A federal judge in Colorado on May 19 vacated and remanded a development plan that would allow hydraulic fracturing in the Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forests within the Paonia Ranger District, ruling that the plan needed further consideration because the federal agencies confessed that their approval of the plan was not in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
SEATTLE — In a May 20 order, a federal judge in Washington rejected efforts by the U.S. government and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians to halt entry of a proposed consent decree in a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act.
LOS ANGELES — Litigation over a 2015 oil spill at the Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, Calif., has been resolved via settlement, the parties revealed May 13, touting a proposed $230 million payment as “an exceptional achievement” for two plaintiff classes.