WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a reply brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 8, 21 foreign and domestic energy companies assert that the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred when limiting review of a ruling remanding a climate change lawsuit brought by the mayor and city council of Baltimore to the applicability of federal officer jurisdiction because Section 1447(d) of Title 28 of the U.S. Code plainly says that a full review remand orders is allowed.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 11 denied a petition for certiorari in a dispute over an Indian tribe’s jurisdiction to collect annual fees for storing a private company’s hazardous waste on the tribe’s land.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 8 granted the government of Guam’s petition seeking review of a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that found that the territory’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act suit seeking to recover $160 million it spent on cleaning up contamination from the Ordot Landfill Superfund site was barred by the three-year statute of limitations based on a 2004 consent decree the territory entered into with the federal government.
RICHMOND, Va. — A 2-1 Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 7 vacated a ruling dismissing an environmental firm’s challenge to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision refusing its request for $2.7 million for remediation work it performed at a Superfund site, finding that the agency’s denial was based on the firm’s failure to complete an obsolete form that has not been used for more than 25 years.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A number of oil companies asked the U.S. Supreme Court in petitions for writs of certiorari filed Dec. 30 to review rulings by the First and Ninth Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeal that affirmed decisions remanding lawsuits brought by the state of Rhode Island and three municipalities in California, respectively, over damages stemming from increased infrastructure costs resulting from climate change just weeks before oral arguments are scheduled on whether the Fourth Circuit erred when conducting limited review of a remand order in a similar suit.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A federal judge in New York on Dec. 30 granted in part motions to dismiss filed by individual companies in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and strict liability lawsuit brought by landowners who live near a now-defunct landfill and have allegedly sustained physical injuries, finding that the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint (TAC) failed to sufficiently allege how the companies contributed to contamination at the site and engaged in ultrahazardous activity.
MOBILE, Ala. — Olin Corp., BASF Corp. and the federal government on Dec. 17 entered into an agreement in federal court in Alabama in which the companies agreed to spend $13.4 million to remediate mercury and dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) contamination at adjacent sites they currently own and reimburse the government $500,000 in past response costs.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The mayor and city council of Baltimore told the U.S. Supreme Court in a response brief filed Dec. 16 that it should sustain a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling affirming remand of its climate change lawsuit against BP PLC and a number of other oil companies because allowing appeals courts to review remand orders based on all grounds for removal rather than the two exceptions provided under Section 1447(d) of Title 28 of the U.S. Code would encourage “jurisdictional gamesmanship.”
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana on Dec. 17 found the owners and operators of a wastewater facility liable under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) for a May 2015 oil spill in the Mississippi River and ordered the defendants to reimburse the government the $632,262.49 it paid a company to clean up the contamination from the spill.
LONDON — A Supreme Court of the United Kingdom panel on Nov. 27 dismissed Halliburton Co.’s appeal challenging the impartiality of an arbitrator who heard its dispute with an insurer in relation to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion but did not timely disclose appointments in two overlapping arbitrations, finding that while the arbitrator should have disclosed the other appointments, a lower court did not err in dismissing an application for his removal (Halliburton Co. v. Chubb Bermuda Insurance Ltd., No.  UKSC 48, U.K. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A 2-1 Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 15 denied a mining company’s request to rehear arguments in a dispute over whether the government was an operator of the Lava Cap Mine Superfund site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and, therefore, liable for some of the cleanup costs.
GREENVILLE, Miss. — A federal judge in Mississippi in Dec. 14 refused to reconsider the dismissal of a claim brought under the citizen suit provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by property owners seeking remediation of a March 2015 toxic spill, finding that three U.S. Supreme Court rulings have not unequivocally overruled a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that a claim for an ongoing violation cannot be pursued under act for releases from an oil spill.
HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Appellate Court in an opinion officially released Dec. 15 found that a trial court erred in determining that excess policies implicated in an environmental contamination dispute will never attach based on the failure to exhaust primary policies because the trial court incorrectly determined the per-occurrence limits of the underlying primary policies (Continental Casualty Co., et al. v. Rohr Inc., et al., Nos. AC 41537, AC 41538, AC 42613, Conn. App., 2020 Conn. App. LEXIS 366).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Dec. 10 awarded summary judgment to the federal government in a cost-recovery suit brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act against companies that manufactured aviation gas (avgas) at a site during World War II, finding that the government can pursue cost recovery under the statute and that there are not triable issues as to whether the costs it incurred were from cleanup activities that are consistent with the National Contingency Plan (NCP).
CAMDEN, N.J. — A federal judge in New Jersey on Dec. 9 terminated a 2017 consent decree between NVR Inc., doing business as Ryan Homes, and the federal government that resolved a lawsuit accusing the homebuilder of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) over its discharges of stormwater from construction sites, finding that the defendant sufficiently complied with the agreement’s requirements for the prescribed 30-month period (United States v. NVR Inc., No. 17cv4346, D. N.J., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 231615).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in some respects when applying two exceptions to Indian tribes’ lack of jurisdiction over nontribal members in a dispute over consolidated tribes’ collection of hazardous waste storage fees from a private company, “the court’s central conclusion that [the company] was subject to tribal jurisdiction was likely correct,” the United States says in a Dec. 9 amicus curiae brief filed at the court’s request (FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, No. 19-1143, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Suncor Energy (U.S.A). Inc. and its affiliates and Exxon Mobil Corp. on Dec. 4 petitioned the nation’s high court for review of a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed remand of a lawsuit brought by three Colorado municipalities over infrastructure damages caused by climate change, arguing that the facts of the case are nearly identical to a lawsuit brought by the mayor and City Council of Baltimore that is scheduled for oral arguments on Jan. 19.
BILLINGS, Mont. — BNSF Railway Co. will spend another $141,000 to ensure that remediation of asbestos contamination in and around the Libby, Mont., railyard that carried vermiculite remains successful, according to the terms of a Nov. 30 consent decree with the United States (United States v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 20-126, D. Mont., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 225825).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia says in a reply brief in support of its motion to remand filed in federal court on Nov. 16 that its climate change lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. and a number of other oil companies does not belong in federal court because its causes of action arise under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and have no implication on federal law.
MISSOULA, Mont. — A federal judge in Montana on Dec. 4 denied Atlantic Richfield Co.’s (Arco) motion for partial summary judgment on claims brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and Montana’s Comprehensive Environmental Cleanup and Responsibility Act (CECRA) by the current owner of a former aluminum smelting site, holding that disputes exists as to whether costs the current owner requests are recoverable under federal law and if the presuit notice satisfied Montana law.