PHOENIX — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 28 rejected three Arizona residents’ challenge to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency final rule holding that the state had achieved its ozone reduction requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA), despite exceeding federal air quality standards due to a California wildfire.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Exxon Mobil Corp. and an affiliate company on July 21 agreed to pay the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico $25 million to settle claims related to the remediation of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) contamination in groundwater.
RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) did not violate state law when it issued a revised regulation governing the operation of a state program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while investing in climate change mitigation, a Virginia court held July 14, dismissing a suit brought by a manufacturing industry group to void the amended regulation.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An environmental group could not use the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to hold the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) director responsible for the failure to prevent a homeless population living on state-owned property from disposing of human waste and trash in the Mokelumne River, a California federal judge ruled July 14, concluding that a sovereign immunity exception did not apply.
FRESNO, Calif. — A California federal judge on July 14 approved a consent decree that settles a group’s claims that a glass manufacturing plant violated its Clean Air Act (CAA) permit 62 times in the last five years by bypassing controls and exceeding opacity and carbon monoxide emissions limits. The $160,000 settlement reimburses the group for its investigation and litigation costs and funds air pollution-reduction projects.
LOS ANGELES — In an action brought by three nonprofits against the city of Los Angeles, a California judge ordered an oil industry association intervenor on July 6 to pay attorney fees of more than $1.2 million to the nonprofits and more than $1 million to the city of Los Angeles. The awards follow an appellate court’s 2019 ruling reversing the denial of motions against the intervenor under the Anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (anti-SLAPP) statute.
MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has the explicit statutory authority to limit the number of cows and impose groundwater monitoring conditions on a permit issued for an expanded dairy farm operation, a divided Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded July 8, affirming a trial court ruling in a dispute between the DNR and neighboring property owners.
ST. LOUIS — Property owners’ allegations that all of the defendants in a proposed class action over the mishandling of radioactive waste in a landfill engaged in the same conduct were not specific enough to trigger the Class Action Fairness Act’s (CAFA) local controversy exception, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 8. Accordingly, it reversed a lower court’s order remanding the action to state court.
OAKLAND, Calif. — In an action brought by a restaurant association challenging a recently enacted Berkeley, Calif., ordinance limiting the availability of natural gas in new construction, a federal California judge on July 6 dismissed the group’s claim of federal preemption by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims .
BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 1 vacated an order staying litigation in an environmental group’s action over stormwater discharge from an ExxonMobil Massachusetts terminal until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new permit. The lower court improperly stayed the action under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, the panel said, because the alleged violations concern the permit currently in effect.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) when it issued a final rule on fuel volatility in 2019 that included a waiver for fuel blends containing up to 15 percent ethanol sold during the summer months, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said July 2. The court therefore vacated that portion of the rule.
PENN YAN, N.Y. — A New York town’s approval for an electric power plant to build and operate a bitcoin data mining facility complies with state environmental laws, the town and the power plant argue in their June 17 opposition briefs to a suit filed in state court by environmental groups and residents.
BATON ROUGE, La. — A majority of the Louisiana Supreme Court on June 30 affirmed an appellate court ruling that a school board’s strict liability cause of action was not prescribed in its suit over oil contamination of school property. It also affirmed the lower court’s rulings vacating a $3.5 million award for remediation damages and remanding for a new trial on other claims, concluding that the jury was improperly allowed to award excess remediation damages following an earlier, erroneous ruling by the state high court in the case.
ST. LOUIS — The Second Division Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals on June 29 affirmed a trial court’s finding that no coverage is owed for the cleanup of methamphetamine contamination because the policy’s law and ordinance provision bars coverage for the cleanup of pollutants necessary to comply with an ordinance or law.
NEW ORLEANS — In an action over the coal-dust contamination of rice loaded on barges on the Mississippi River, a Louisiana federal judge on June 24 denied cross-motions filed by a plaintiff rice supplier and defendant barge fleeting facility, saying questions remained about whether the facility knew what was on the barges. The judge also granted summary judgment to a barge provider upon concluding that the third-party claims against it were untimely.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A divided Ohio Supreme Court concluded June 29 that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not preclude claims that Volkswagen installed software on its vehicles post-sale to reduce their emissions during testing by federal regulators, reversing a trial court’s dismissal of the action.
HOUSTON — Insurers contend in a June 17 suit filed in Texas federal court that they have no duty to defend or indemnify a company that claims to be the successor of an insured against two environmental contamination claims pursuant to the policies’ absolute pollution exclusion and pollution exclusion.
SPOKANE, Wash. — An environmental group and the state of Washington did not need to show that a gold mine owner discharged pollutants to establish its potential liability for the alleged violation of a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, a Washington federal judge held June 17, granting the plaintiffs partial summary judgment and dismissing certain defenses asserted by the mine owner.
TAMPA, Fla. — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and other advocates for the environment on June 24 sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state officials in a Florida federal court, contending that they are liable for threats to the environment and human health as a result of discharging 215 million gallons of untreated, hazardous wastewater directly into Tampa Bay through the Piney Point Phosphate Facility.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Atlantic Richfield Co. and ASARCO LLC filed a joint motion on June 9 to voluntarily dismiss Atlantic Richfield’s petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court in light of Guam v. United States, in which the high court held that the territory’s contribution action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) was time-barred.