DES MOINES, Iowa — A federal judge in Iowa on Feb. 1 approved the entry of a consent decree between the federal government and companies found liable for trichloroethylene (TCE) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination a site in Des Moines that requires the companies to jointly and severally pay $11.5 million, finding that the agreement is fair and reasonable.
NEW YORK — In an environmental contamination coverage dispute that has been pending for more than 30 years, a New York federal judge on Feb. 4 determined that an insurer must pay an insured approximately $25 million for past environmental contamination costs incurred at one of the insured’s sites because there is no genuine dispute of material fact that the costs incurred by the insured’s successor arose as a result of the insured’s operations at the site.
HELENA, Mont. — A federal judge in Montana on Feb. 2 denied two motions in limine filed by ASARCO LLC seeking to limit testimony from two witnesses from the Montana Environmental Trust Group (METG), which is handling cleanup activities at the East Helena Superfund site, and another witness who would provide testimony on cost allocation, finding that the company’s request to have the court decide on issues of relevance and prejudice prior to a mini-bench trial is superfluous.
TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge on Jan. 28 dismissed all but a breach of contract claim against an environmental liability insurer and the former owner of a battery manufacturing facility after determining that only one of the plaintiffs raised a question of fact as to whether it is a third-party beneficiary under the environmental policy at issue.
SALT LAKE CITY — A company that incinerates medical waste reached an agreement Jan. 29 with the federal government in federal court in Utah in which the company will pay a $600,000 civil penalty and spend $2 million to purchase lower emission school buses for a nearby school district to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) when discharging emissions that contained excessive levels of nitrogen oxides.
LOS ANGELES — A business insurer did not breach its contract or act in bad faith in denying an insured’s claim for a gas leak at its insured gas station because the insured failed to prove that the gas leak was caused by an accident for which coverage would be afforded under the policy, a California federal judge said in an amended Jan. 29 opinion.
ALBANY, N.Y. — A counterclaimant’s requests for contribution and declaratory relief under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act in a suit brought by BASF Corp. over the costs of remediating contaminated sediment from the Hudson River were dismissed as superfluous by a federal judge in New York on Jan. 25; he ruled that the defendant company cannot bring the claims because it has not reached a settlement with the government over the cleanup of the contamination and because BASF is not seeking cost recovery under the statute.
JACKSON, Ohio — An Ohio appeals panel on Jan. 11 ruled that a company was not entitled to recover the costs of remediating groundwater contaminated with various toxins because the insurance policy covering the property contained an exclusion that barred the claim.
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Missouri on Jan. 25 dismissed a landfill owner’s claim for cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act against a tenant operating an asphalt plant on the site, but allowed the company to amend its complaint to pursue only claims for contribution under the statute.
NEW ORLEANS — Dow Chemical Co. and two of its subsidiaries entered into an agreement in federal court in Louisiana Jan. 19 with the federal government and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) in which the companies agreed to pay a $3 million civil penalty for violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) and spend $294 million to install equipment to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other hazardous substances from emissions caused by industrial flaring at facilities in Texas and Louisiana.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Duke Energy Progress LLC and Duke Energy Carolinas LLC on Jan. 22 entered into an agreement with North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, the public staff of the North Carolina Utilities Commission and the Sierra Club in which the energy companies agreed to not pass on to customers the $1.1 billion the companies will spend to remediate contamination from coal ash.
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 22 vacated a ruling certifying a class for nearby residents of a Crosby, Texas, chemical production facility owned by Arkema Inc. that exploded as a result of flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, finding that a federal judge in Texas did not fully address the predominance requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and did not explain how the proposed injunctive relief for the medical monitoring and property remediation classes would remedy the members’ injuries.
BATON ROUGE, La. — A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana on Jan. 19 stayed a groundwater contamination lawsuit pending a ruling on the plaintiffs’ motion to remand, explaining that judicial economy would be served by pausing the case due to the number of parties and the complexity of the case.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 19 heard arguments from the federal government, the mayor and city council of Baltimore and a number of foreign and domestic oil companies regarding what portions of a federal judge in Maryland’s order remanding the city’s lawsuit over damage stemming from the increased costs of infrastructure to protect against severe weather events caused by climate change should be reviewed on appeal, the availability of sanctions to prevent jurisdictional gamesmanship and the plain meaning of Section 1447(d) of Title 28 of the U.S. Code,
FLINT, Mich. — A Michigan man pleaded guilty Jan. 14 in federal court in Michigan to one count of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging 47.8 million gallons of landfill leachate in the city of Flint’s sewer system from an industrial wastewater treatment facility he owned.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nineteen states and the District of Columbia, three Colorado municipalities that have had a federal appeals court affirm remand of their climate change lawsuit against oil companies and a number of other groups filed amicus curiae briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 23, urging the high court to uphold the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling to uphold the remand of a climate change lawsuit brought by the mayor and City Council of Baltimore and sustain the appeals court’s decision to limit review of the ruling.
LOS ANGELES — Thirteen municipalities filed a renewed motion in federal court in California on Dec. 31 seeking preliminary approval of a $550 million class settlement with Monsanto Co. and its subsidiaries to resolve allegations over contamination stemming from products containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arguing that the new settlement agreement remedies problems identified by a judge who denied approval of the settlement in November.
TACOMA, Wash. — Columbia Riverkeeper sued a metal fabricating company in federal court in Washington on Jan. 6, alleging that the company is in violation of two National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits because it is failing to monitor discharges of stormwater-containing pollutants such as zinc and copper that are reaching the Columbia River and that the company has failed to implement a stormwater pollution prevention program (SWPPP) that includes sufficient best management practices (BMPs) and that applies all known and reasonable methods of pollution prevention, control and treatment.
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should affirm a district court’s confirmation of a $25 million arbitration award entered against an excess liability insurer in an environmental contamination coverage dispute because the district court did not err in granting the insured’s motion to compel arbitration as the lower court properly construed the policy’s alternative dispute resolution provision, the insured says in a Jan. 5 appellee brief.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 8 granted the solicitor general’s requests for a divided argument and to participate in oral arguments on Jan. 19 as an amicus curiae for energy companies seeking reversal of a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed remand of a climate change lawsuit brought by the mayor and City Council of Baltimore.