DENVER — Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc. on March 6 agreed to pay $9 million to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for emissions and operating and monitoring violations that occurred at its Commerce City, Colo., refinery between 2017 and 2019, the department announced, stating that it is the largest payment the state has received for violations at one facility (In the Matter of Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc., Nos. 2019-097, 2019-194, Colo. Dept. Public Health & Envir.).
HONOLULU — The city and county of Honolulu on March 9 filed a lawsuit in state court accusing 20 fossil fuel producers of public nuisance, trespass and strict liability for their conduct in marketing and promoting their products despite knowing that the burning of fossil fuels contributes to climate change (City and County of Honolulu v. Sunoco LP, et al., No. 1CCV-2020-0000380, Hawaii Cir., 1st Cir.).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on Feb. 28 held that an insurer has a duty to defend its insureds against underlying third-party complaints seeking indemnity and contribution for a putative class action lawsuit over contaminated groundwater, finding that if he were to adopt the insurer’s reading of the pollution exclusion, he would be at risk of extending the exclusion beyond a layperson's understanding (Kingsley Management, Corp., et al. v. Occidental Fire & Casualty Company Of North Carolina, et al., No. 19-1361, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34836).
RICHMOND, Va. — A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 6 affirmed a ruling remanding the mayor and city council of Baltimore’s lawsuit alleging that producers and sellers of fossil fuels are liable for climate change-related damages to the city’s infrastructure, finding that the federal officer doctrine was not grounds for removing the case to federal court (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. BP Plc, et al., No. 19-1644, 4th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 7083).
PORTLAND, Ore. — A number of youths and an environmental group claiming that the federal government knew about the association between climate change and the burning of fossil fuels on March 2 petitioned the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for an en banc rehearing, arguing that a divided Jan. 17 ruling that found that the plaintiffs’ claims could not be redressed in federal court should be vacated (Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-36082, 9th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 3 vacated a federal judge in Louisiana’s ruling denying BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s challenge to an oil spill claimant’s $77 million award, finding that the judge erred when not considering evidence possibly showing that the claimant’s decreased profits during the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 resulted from a spike in the price of fertilizer rather than the spill (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID No. 100191715, No. 19-30264, 5th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 6667).
INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge in Indiana on Feb. 28 held that a default judgment entered against an insured in a Michigan lawsuit precludes a third party’s claims against insurers because the present lawsuit seeks coverage for the insured’s liability for contaminated groundwater “under the very same policies at issue” in the Michigan lawsuit (Lusher Site Remediation Group v. National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford, et al., No. 18-03785, S.D. Ind., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34919).
JOPLIN, Mo. — An explosives manufacturer entered into an agreement with the federal government in Missouri federal court on Feb. 27 in which it agreed to pay $2.9 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at two of its facilities (United States v. Dyno Nobel Inc., No. 19-5031, W.D. Mo.).
ALBANY, N.Y. — A federal judge in New York on Feb. 12 dismissed without prejudice a property owner’s claims for cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), finding that the plaintiff’s claim was precluded because it entered into an agreement with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) that released it from liability (BASF Corp. v. Albany Molecular Research Inc., et al., No. 19-CV-0134, N.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24240).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A federal judge in Delaware on Feb. 14 denied motions for summary judgment on a defendant company’s counterclaim for cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), finding that a former property owner that used a California site for 50 years cannot claim that it is not a potentially responsible party for contamination under the act and that there is a dispute as to whether the defendant company’s decision to conduct demolition and excavation at the site triggers its liability under the act (Alcoa Inc. v. Alcan Rolled Products-Ravenswood LLC, et al., No. 06-451-JFB-SRF, D. Del., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27737).
LOS ANGELES — The former owners of a property neighboring a site that previously housed a Nissan North America Inc. dealership sued the automaker in California federal court on Feb. 24, seeking cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act on the ground that contamination from Nissan’s property migrated onto their property and caused the sales value to decrease by nearly $3 million (Ideal Metal & Salvage Co. v. Nissan North America Inc., No. 20-cv-01751, C.D. Calif.).
CHICAGO — A railroad company that was told by a federal judge in Illinois that it must pay more than $10 million to indemnify the previous owner of a 2.3-acre parcel of land it purchased in 1987 for the remediation of contamination told the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a brief filed Feb. 21 that the ruling should be reversed because claims regarding contamination at the site were raised during an 10-year indemnification period that required the seller to pay for any environmental liabilities (Wisconsin Central Ltd. v. Soo Line Railroad Co., No. 19-3129, 7th Cir.).
SEATTLE — An industrial materials supplier on Feb. 20 agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty and implement a risk management plan to detect, prevent and minimize accidental releases of chlorine and sulfur dioxide its stores at its Pasco, Wash., facility to resolve allegations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it was in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) (In the matter of OXARC Inc., No. CAA-10-2020-0035, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Feb. 19 denied Yolo County’s motion to dismiss a third-party lawsuit brought by a defendant company in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act action, finding that it sufficiently stated a claim for contribution under the statute (West Sacramento, et al. v. R&L Business Management, et al., No. 18-cv-900, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28352).
NEW YORK — The village of Northport, N.Y., on Feb. 20 entered into an agreement in federal court in New York to pay the federal government a $125,000 civil penalty, conduct inspections and sampling of its outfalls from its municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) and implement rehabilitation work to eliminate any illicit discharges to resolve the government’s fourth lawsuit accusing the town of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) (United States, et al. v. Northport, N.Y., No. 20-890, E.D. N.Y.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Feb. 13 granted in part a stone and synthetic resin materials maker’s motion to dismiss an environmental group’s citizen suit under the Clean Water Act (CWA), finding that the group does not provide dates of when discharges of stormwater from the company’s facility violated the limits allowed in a National Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued to the company (Eden Environmental Citizen’s Group LLC v. American Custom Marble Inc., et al., No. 19-cv-03424-EMC, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25394).
BUTTE, Mont. — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Feb. 13 that the federal government and Atlantic Richfield Co. have reached an agreement wherein the company will spend $150 million to remediate a portion of a Montana Superfund site by removing contaminated sediment and expanding treatment of contaminated stormwater before it flows into nearby creeks (United States v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al., No. CV 89-039, D. Mont.).
PITTSBURGH — Two residents who live next to two sawmills filed a lawsuit against the owners Feb. 12 in federal court in Pennsylvania, complaining that increased activity at the sawmills is adversely affecting their property and health and violating a number of state and federal environmental laws (Nancy Adams, et al. v. David J. Miller, et al., No. n/a, W.D. Pa.).
DENVER — Defendant companies in a suit brought by the board of commissioners of two Colorado counties and a city in the state over climate change tell the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Jan. 21 reply brief that an entire order remanding the plaintiffs’ case should be reviewed for error and not limited to the federal officer doctrine because the case was removed under Title 28 of the U.S. Code, Section 1442 (Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County, et al. v. Suncor Energy [U.S.A.] Inc., et al., No. 19-1330, 10th Cir.).
LEWISTON, Maine — The owners of three metal recycling facilities on Feb. 10 entered into an agreement with the federal government in federal court in Maine to resolve allegations that the companies were violating the Clean Water Act through discharges of stormwater from the sites (United States v. Grimmel Industries Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-00191, D. Maine).