WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency on April 15 issued an interpretive statement clarifying the application of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and concluded that releases of pollutants into groundwater are “categorically excluded” from the CWA’s permitting requirements because Congress “explicitly left regulation of discharges to groundwater” to the states and to the EPA under other statutory authorities.
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 17 reversed a federal court’s finding that a site pollution legal liability insurer waived its subrogation rights under an onshore master services agreement (MSA) but affirmed the court’s dismissal of the breach of contract claim against the insurer for lack of personal jurisdiction (Halliburton Energy Services Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co., No. 17-20678 consolidated with No. 18-20239, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 11255).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two environmental groups on April 15 filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that a lower court’s ruling that held that there is an exemption to the Clean Water Act (CWA) related to the protection of navigable waters from pollutants added from a point source via groundwater is not supported by the text and structure of the CWA (Tennessee Clean Water Network, et al. v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 18-1307,
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The plaintiffs in a putative class action against the city of Fort Myers on April 15 filed an amended complaint in Florida federal court, contending that the venue for their groundwater contamination lawsuit is appropriate and they have complied with the pre-suit requirements of the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act (RCRA) (Deretha Miller, et al. v. Fort Myers, et al., No. 18-195, M.D. Fla.).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 11 affirmed a federal judge in Iowa’s decision that two tire companies should pay $11 million for violating the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) by selling buildings that housed insulation containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), holding that the companies arranged for the disposal of the hazardous substance by agreeing to sell the buildings for amounts far less than the liability for remediating the contamination (United States v. Dico Inc., et al., No. 17-3462, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10729).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should vacate a ruling that Indian tribes are entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from a Canadian industrial polluter for enforcement actions taken under federal law because the consequences of the ruling to American businesses will be drastic, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says in an April 5 amicus curiae brief in support of the polluter’s petition for review (Teck Metals Ltd. v. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, et al., No. 18-1160, U.S. Sup.).
HATO REY, Puerto Rico — A federal judge in Puerto Rico on March 25 ruled that a company that is liable for groundwater contamination could not assert a third-party defense and ordered the U.S. government, which is in charge of remediating the chemical hazard, to specify which response actions underlie the costs it says the chemical company is liable for paying (United States v. Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, No. 15-2328, D. Puerto Rico, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52194).
ROANOKE, Va. — A federal judge in Virginia on March 31 found that the owner of a site that was contaminated by mine tailings is responsible for 80 percent of the response costs incurred in remediating the site while a defendant company that conducted operations at the site should pay the remaining 20 percent (Dixon Lumber Co., Inc. v. Austinville Limestone Co., Inc., No. 16-cv-00130, W.D. Va., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55023).
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on April 9 denied a city’s request for a temporary injunction that would require two utility companies to investigate and remediate manufactured gas waste oil (MG waste oil), methane and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) contamination at a former manufactured gas station and found that experts proffered by the parties are qualified to testify about the migration of the contamination (Evanston, Ill. v. Northern Illinois Gas Company, et al., No. 16-C-5692, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60707).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 8 affirmed a nonprofit land trust’s award of nearly $1 million from the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement Agreement, ruling that a Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) appeals panel did not err when finding that the nonprofit did not misclassify any negative revenue or bad expense reporting (BP Exploration & Production Inc. v. Claimant ID 100201953, No. 18-30853, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10229).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 8 upheld a federal judge in Louisiana’s decision to not perform a discretionary review of a Court Supervised Claims Program’s (CSSP) appeals panel’s affirmation of a company’s $2.1 million award for damages stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, holding that the panel properly determined that a management fee paid by the claimant was a fixed cost (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID No. 100166533, No. 18-30644, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10273).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A federal judge in North Carolina on April 2 dismissed a remediation company from a lawsuit brought by residents who live near a booster station owned and operated by Colonial Pipeline Co., finding that the plaintiffs failed to allege that the remediation company owed them a duty when cleaning up a hydraulic oil spill in 2013 and that it breached that duty when performing its work and taking soil samples (Jackie Braswell, et al. v. Colonial Pipeline Co., et al., No. 18cv580, M.D. N.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56349).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on March 29 denied motions for summary judgment filed by a contractor and topsoil farmer in a suit brought by a couple seeking cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for the remediation of contaminated top soil, finding that the statute’s fertilizer exception is not applicable (Thomas Sheridan, et al. v. D&D Grading Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-5085, E.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54340).
HOUSTON — No coverage is afforded to insureds for an underlying criminal proceeding arising out of environmental contamination caused by the insureds’ operation of a landfill because the criminal indictment does not include a demand for any remedy that would be covered under the pollution liability policy, a Texas federal judge said March 28 (Waste Management Inc., et al. v. AIG Specialty Insurance Co., No. 16-3676, S.D. Texas, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53525).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge on March 29 denied a motion by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seeking to seal the courtroom during their appeal of a claim submitted pursuant to the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, holding that it is a public matter (BP Exploration & Production Inc. v. Claimant ID 100246928, No. 18-30375, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9398).
LAKE CHARLES, La. — No coverage is owed for an underlying environmental contamination lawsuit filed against an insured because the policies’ pollution exclusions clearly bar coverage for all of the underlying claims, a Louisiana federal judge said March 28 (Evanston Insurance Co. v. Riceland Petroleum Co., No. 17-1031, W.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53830).
NEW ORLEANS — A sign maker’s $2 million award for damages incurred as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was upheld March 28 by a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel after it found that the company’s $900,000 research and development project was properly characterized as a variable cost (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID 100261922, No. 18-30844, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9266).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A federal judge in Kansas on March 26 dismissed a company’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act lawsuit seeking to have two other companies and a trust pay for investigating, remediating and monitoring contamination at site where they conducted operations, finding that the court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction over the case due to an earlier proceeding brought by the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment (KDHE) (Raytheon Co. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 18-2402-CM-GEB, D. Kan., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49785).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled March 26 that a federal judge in Louisiana did not err when denying BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s request for discretionary review of a $65 million settlement award to an electrical transformer manufacturer, finding that a Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) appeals panel did not misapply the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement when upholding the award (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al v. Claimant ID 100141850, No. 18-30835, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9121).
DAYTON, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on March 25 denied in part a defendant company’s motion for summary judgment in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost-recovery lawsuit, finding that the company could still face liability under the act even if it is “dead and buried” (Garrett Day LLC, et al. v. International Paper Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-36, S.D. Ohio, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49478).