TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey appeals panel on Nov. 13 upheld a lower court’ ruling that the state’s environmental agency can enforce violations of the New Jersey Spill and Control Act (Spill Act) through municipal courts, finding that the statute provides municipal courts with such authority (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Alsol Corp., No. A-3546-17T1, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2019 N.J. Super. LEXIS 159).
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) on Nov. 7 issued a notice to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a North Carolina environmental agency and a city in the state notifying them of a potential lawsuit for violations of federal laws related to groundwater contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4-dioxane.
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Oct. 25 refused to recuse himself from a lawsuit brought by residents of a contaminated portion of the former Hunters Point Naval Site (HPNS) against the company that was hired to remediate the property, finding that the company’s request, which was based on a sentence in an order denying the plaintiffs’ motion to remand, “borders on the frivolous” (United States v. Tetra Tech EC Inc., et al., No. 13-cv-3835, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185485).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 6 heard arguments from a Hawaii county, the federal government and five environmental groups as to whether discharges from the county’s underground injection control (UIC) wells that were reaching the Pacific Ocean via groundwater violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, et al., No. 18-260, U.S. Sup.).
SEATTLE — A federal judge in Washington on Nov. 4 denied a defendant company’s motion to exclude the testimony of an expert who opines about the economic benefits that a trucking and salvage company obtained as a result of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA), as well as the economic impact of a civil penalty, holding that the defendant company is challenging only the expert’s methodology, which can be addressed during cross-examination (United States v. Bobby Wolford Trucking & Salvage Inc., et al., No. C18-747, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191472).
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A federal judge in Indiana on Nov. 5 denied without prejudice a motion for class certification filed by residents who claim that E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. was negligent when operating a pesticide lead arsenate production facility near a housing complex in East Chicago, Ind., finding that there is currently no method to determine how contamination on the property has damaged each potential class member (Lerithea Rolan, et al. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., No. 16-CV-357-TLS, N.D. Ind., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191665).
HOUSTON — A Texas appeals panel on Nov. 5 vacated a trial court’s ruling dismissing a suit brought by Harris County and the state against the owners of a dry cleaner and the owner of the building it leases, holding that they have standing to pursue claims for civil penalties and monetary relief under the Texas Water Code because they are not preempted by the Dry Cleaner Remediation Program (Harris County, Texas, et al. v. S.K. and Brothers Inc., et al., No. 14-17-00984-CV, Texas App., 14th Dist., 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 9668).
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — An Indiana federal judge on Oct. 30 determined that insureds who allege that their insurer breached its duty under settlement agreements reached in an environmental contamination dispute are not entitled to judgment in their favor because numerous issues of material fact exist that must proceed to trial (Valley Forge Insurance Co. v. Hartford Iron & Metal Inc., et al., No. 14-6, N.D. Ind., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187791).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Nov. 1 dismissed a woman from a lawsuit brought by the California Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) that seeks recovery of $2.5 million under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for cleanup costs the agency incurred in remediating a site, holding that the defendant cannot be held liable individually for her role as a trustee and beneficiary of the trust that owns the property (California Department of Toxic Substances v. Dee McLemore Trust, et al., No. C 19-1116-WHA, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190340).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal should reverse a district court’s ruling that an insurer owes no coverage for environmental contamination claims asserted by neighbors of an insured property, the neighbors assert in an Oct. 23 reply brief, contending that even if the insured failed to provide timely notice of the claims, the insurer was not prejudiced by the alleged late notice (Carmine Greene, et al. v. Kenneth Will, et al., No. 19-2260, 7th Cir.).
CALGARY, Alberta — TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, said on its website on Oct. 31 that it has begun using backhoes, vac trucks and other specialized equipment to clean up an oil spill at a North Dakota section of the Keystone Pipeline that resulted in the release of approximately 9,120 barrels of oil.
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 29 ordered a federal judge in Louisiana to review a Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) appeals panel’s decision to affirm the denial of an office support company’s business and economic loss claim to the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, finding that the judge should determine if the claimant’s alleged illegal activity bars it from recovery (Claimant ID 100235033 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 18-30908, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 32477).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of landowners seeking affirmation of a Montana Supreme Court ruling finding that they can pursue claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) tell the U.S. Supreme Court in a brief filed Oct. 15 that Atlantic Richfield Co. misreads the statute to argue that their claims are preempted (Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Gregory A. Christian, et al., No. 17-1498, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 22 denied three applications to stay rulings from federal judges remanding suits brought by the state of Rhode Island, two cities and the board of county commissioners of two counties in Colorado that claim that the sellers of fossil fuels were aware that the use of petroleum products contributes to climate change and global warming (BP Plc, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, No. 19A368, Suncor Energy [U.S.A.] Inc. v. Board of County Commissioners, No. 19A428, BP Plc., et al v. Rhode Island, No. 19A391, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Oct. 18 denied remand of a lawsuit brought by residents who live on a parcel of a contaminated former naval shipyard and claim that a company hired by the U.S. Navy (USN) failed to remediate contamination at the property, holding that the site constitutes a federal enclave (Linda Parker Pennington, et al. v. Tetra Tech EC Inc., et al., No. 18-cv-05330-JD, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180946).
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring on Oct. 11 announced that Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (MVP) has agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty and submit to court-ordered supervision and compliance with environmental laws to resolve allegations that the company discharged sediment and stormwater in excess of levels allowed by a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit (David K. Paylor, et al. v. Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, No. n/a, Va. Cir., Henrico Co.).
PITTSBURGH — Sierra Club on Oct 8 filed a lawsuit against NRG Power Midwest LP in Pennsylvania federal court, claiming that company’s Cheswick Generating Station violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging amounts of heated wastewater into the Allegheny River that exceeded limits allowed by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that prohibits discharges of heated water from raising water temperatures in the river by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit for more than one hour (Sierra Club v. NRG Power Midwest LP, No. 19-cv-01284, W.D. Pa.).
UTICA, N.Y. — The maker of transformers that contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were later disposed of at a metal recycling facility sufficiently stated claims for arranger and transporter liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against the successor to a company that repaired transformers, a federal judge in New York ruled Oct. 10 in denying in part the successor company’s motion to dismiss, finding that the allegations are based on reliable information (ELG Utica Alloy Inc. v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., et al., No. 16-cv-01523, N.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176152).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-three states filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia on Sept. 20 over a proposed rule that would eliminate California’s ability to set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for cars and other vehicles, arguing that the decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is arbitrary and capricious and contravenes congressional intent (California, et al. v. Elaine L. Chao, et al., No. 19-cv-2826 D. D.C.).
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Oct. 2 adopted a magistrate judge’s Sept. 13 recommendation to enter default judgment in favor of Chevron Environmental Management Co. and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and order the former owner of a landfill to pay $18.1 million to the plaintiffs for cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Chevron Environmental Management Co., et al. v. Environmental Protection Corp., No. 19-cv-00807-LJO-JLT, E.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172338).