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).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-two states, the District of Columbia and six cities on Aug. 13 sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, challenging the implementation of the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which was announced in June to repeal the Clean Energy Plan (New York, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. n/a, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ten environmental groups on Aug. 14 filed a petition in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals challenging President Donald Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which was enacted in June to repeal the Clean Power Plan (Appalachian Mountain Club, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. n/a, D.C. Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS — A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana’s ruling affirming the denial of claims for compensation filed by a group of menhaden fishermen was upheld by a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 13, after it found that a pretrial order that required the fishermen to file individual lawsuits before submitting claims under the Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) and Transocean LLC settlements (collectively, the HESI settlements) did not violate their rights to due process (In re: Deepwater Horizon, Nos. 18-30243, 18-30413, 18-30533, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 24095).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 13 reversed a district court’s ruling that California law, rather than Alabama law, applies to an environmental contamination coverage suit because each of the policies at issue clearly mentions Alabama as the place of the performance (Arrow Electronics Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., et al., No. 18-55810, 9th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 12 vacated a Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) appeals panel’s decision that upheld the denial of a resort operator’s claim under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, holding that the panel erred when finding that the claimant was not entitled to compensation because it was a failed business (Claimant ID 100024160 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 18-30901, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23974).
PHILADELPHIA — A lawsuit brought by a tenant on the site of a former landfill cannot bring suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a proposed plan to remediate the site, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Aug. 12, finding that the court lacked jurisdiction under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (H&H Disposal Services Inc. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 18-4467, E.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135652).
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A federal judge in New York on Aug. 5 dismissed an amended complaint filed by residents who live near a landfill who are seeking cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, finding that the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently state claims under the statute (Alicia Bellafaire, et al. v. Town of Wheatfield, et al., No. 18-cv-00560, W.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134292).
CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 8 affirmed a federal judge in Indiana’s ruling that a no-fault owner of a contaminated site should pay for 25 percent of the costs of remediating the property, holding that the buyer was aware of the extent of the contamination when it purchased the site, paid much less than the asking price and has an $80 million insurance policy for the property (Valbruna Slater Steel Corp., et al. v. Joslyn Manufacturing Co., et al., Nos. 18-2633, 18-2738, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23694).
BOSTON — A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Aug. 2 that a Massachusetts real estate developer agreed to pay a $48,000 civil penalty for stormwater discharges from three construction sites that violated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirteen states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus curiae brief in the nation’s high court July 19 in support of environmental groups seeking affirmation of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that held a Hawaii county was 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, arguing that the act promotes federalism by empowering states to protect their navigable waterways (County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, et al., No. 18-260, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Aug. 5 ruled that a motion to dismiss filed by defendants accused by the state of New York and the commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of contributing to contamination at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, N.Y., should be converted into a motion for summary judgment in order for the parties to submit additional briefing as to whether the plaintiffs’ Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) claim is timely (Basil Seggos, et al. v. Thomas Datre Jr., et al., No. 17-cv-2684, E.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130623).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A golf course owner and nearby residents tell the U.S. Supreme Court in a July 31 reply brief that a 2010 agreement between an Indiana environmental agency and General Electric Co. does not prevent a federal magistrate judge in Illinois from granting their request for injunctive relief and additional cleanup of their properties after he found that GE was liable under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for contamination at an adjacent site it used for manufacturing appliances and parts (LAJIM LLC, et al. v. General Electric Company, No. 18-1564, U.S. Sup.).
BOSTON — An environmental group sued a beach club in Massachusetts federal court on Aug. 2, claiming that the hazardous waste disposed of by the club’s wastewater treatment facility’s (WWTF) contaminates soil and groundwater that reaches the Wychmere Harbor and violates the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (Conservation Law Foundation Inc. v. Longwood Venues & Destinations Inc., et al., No. 19-cv-11672, D. Mass.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Talen Energy Corp. entered into an agreement with a state agency and three environmental groups in Pennsylvania federal court on July 31 in which it agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty to resolve allegations that contaminants from a coal ash waste storage site owned by the company reached the Susquehanna River in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Talen Energy Corp., et al., No. 19-cv-1329, M.D. Pa.).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A sheet metal and metal fabrication company and its founder on July 22 entered into agreements with the federal government in New York federal court in which they agreed to pay a combined $1.2 million toward remediation of a Superfund site with groundwater contaminated with trichloroethane (TCE) that the company used during its operations (United States v. Hopewell Precision Inc., et al., No. 19-cv-06749, S.D. N.Y.).
PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 30 remanded a district court’s ruling in favor of an excess insurer in an environmental contamination coverage dispute after determining that the lower court must consider whether a primary insurer’s payment for claims arising out of one of three landfills applied to all of the landfills and exhausted the primary insurer’s limits under a 1982 primary policy (Penn National Insurance Co. v. North River Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-2687, 3rd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22561).
CINCINNATI — A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 23 that a merits panel should determine whether an appeal brought by residents who were denied intervention in a suit between Ford Motor Co. and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) over Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) violations should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, et al. v. Ford Motor Co., No. 19-1318, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22017).