HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii on July 9 awarded summary judgment to three groups accusing the director of the state’s Agribusiness Development Corp. (ADC) of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging pollutants into the Pacific Ocean via a 40-mile system of unlined trenches, finding that the trenches are not a navigable waterway of the United States (WOTUS) and that the Water Transfer Rule (WTR) does not shield the ADC from obtaining a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (Na Kia’I Kai, et al. v. James Nakatani, No. 18cv5, D. Hawaii, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113929).
SEATTLE — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 17 upheld a federal judge in Idaho’s ruling that American Smelting and Refining Co. (ASARCO) could not seek contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) from Union Pacific Railroad Co., finding that the judge did not err when finding that its claim was barred by a bankruptcy settlement and that the plaintiff company paid less than its allocated share of liability (ASARCO LLC v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., No. 18-35713, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 21168).
NEW YORK — The trustee of two bankrupt magnesium production companies and the current owner of a magnesium production facility in Rowley, Utah, on July 15 agreed to pay a combined $33 million to the federal government and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for remediation, according to a filing in federal bankruptcy court in New York (In re: Magnesium Corporation of America, et al., No. 01-14312, S.D. N.Y. Bky.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 10 agreed to an en banc rehearing of a panel majority’s October ruling that reversed a federal judge in Texas’ decision that the federal government could not pursue injunctive relief under the Clean Air Act (CAA) against an energy company over unpermitted modifications to two power plants (United States v. Luminant Generation Co. LLC, et al., No. 17-10235, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20482).
COLUMBIA, Tenn. — A federal judge in Tennessee on July 8 denied a plaintiff company’s motion to lift a stay on its claims under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), finding that the stay is intended to postpone the court’s jurisdiction over the claims while they are resolved in similar proceedings before a state court and the U.S. Supreme Court (StarLink Logistics Inc. v. ACC LLC, et al., No. 12-cv-00011, M.D. Tenn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113723).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on July 8 scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 9 in an appeal brought by the County of Maui, Hawaii, over a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that awarded summary judgment to five environmental groups that accused the county of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging pollutants that reached the Pacific Ocean without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife, No. 18-260, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 8 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana’s decision to deny discretionary review of a the denial of a hotel’s request for compensation under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, holding that a Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) appeals panel did not err when analyzing the claimant’s customer data (Claimant ID 100025887 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 18-30676, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 20212).
WASHINGTON, D.C.— A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 5 affirmed the dismissal of a law firm’s False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit against companies that manufactured products containing isocyanate, holding that the companies could not face liability under the FCA for allegedly failing to comply with the Toxic Substances Control Act’s (TSCA) reporting requirements about the danger to humans associated with the chemical (United States, ex rel. Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP v. BASF Corporation, et al., No. 18-7123, D.C. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 20056).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 2 rejected challenges from environmental groups of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s implementation of the transfer-based exclusion to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), holding that the agency did not act arbitrarily and capriciously when finding that secondary materials that are sold from a waste generator to a reclaimer are not discarded for the purposes of the statute (California Communities Against Toxics, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 18-1163, D.C. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19758).
HAMMOND, Ind. — A federal magistrate judge in Indiana on June 28 denied Surfrider Foundation’s motion to consolidate its lawsuit with a similar suit filed by the government over discharges by U.S. Steel Corp. that allegedly violated the Clean Water Act, holding that a proposed settlement agreement in the government’s lawsuit could bar some of the group’s claims (Surfrider Foundation v. U.S. Steel Corporation, No. 18-cv-20, N.D. Ind., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109031).
OXFORD, Miss. — The former safety director to the predecessor of a defendant company accused of failing to properly remediate trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination that has migrated off its property is not properly named as a defendant in a lawsuit because he cannot face liability solely on his title, a federal judge in Mississippi ruled June 28 in denying the plaintiffs’ motion to remand and granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss (L.L.D. LLC, et al. v. Enpro Industries Inc., et al., No. 19-cv-00046-GHD-JMV, N.D. Miss., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108982).
OXFORD, Miss. — A federal judge in Mississippi on June 24 dismissed a defendant in a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a municipality on grounds that he was improperly joined and denied the plaintiff’s motion to remand the case to state court (Yalobusha County, Mississippi v. Enpro Industries Inc., et al., No. 19-43, N.D. Miss., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106187).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A refining company on June 20 agreed to pay a $1.6 million civil penalty for violating the terms of a 2008 consent decree filed in Wyoming federal court that required it to reduce levels of sulfur dioxide emission and implement monitoring requirements to remedy violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) (United States, et al. v. Holly Refining and Marketing Tulsa LLC, et al., No. 08-cv-00020, D. Wyo.).
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A Portuguese shipping company on June 20 pleaded guilty in South Carolina federal court to one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one count of obstruction of justice for falsifying information in its oil record book and agreed to pay a $1.5 million civil penalty (United States v. Portline Bulk International S.A., No. 19cr34, D. S.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A golf course owner and nearby residents ask the U.S. Supreme Court in a June 18 petition to review a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that held that General Electric Co. is not required under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to conduct any additional cleanup work at a site that formerly housed a manufacturing plant operated by the company, arguing that GE’s agreement with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to remediate the site is not preclusive of their claims (LAJIM LLC., et al. v. General Electric Co., No. n/a, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 14 dismissed the Sierra Club’s petition to review a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision rejecting the group’s challenge to a permit issued under Title V of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to a Utah power plant, finding that it was not a proper venue for the group’s appeal because the decision did not have a nationwide impact (Sierra Club v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 18-1038, U.S. App., D.C. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 17895).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on June 14 filed a response brief in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that a petition for a writ of certiorari sought by environmental groups regarding the proper interpretation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) as it relates to navigable waters should be held pending the Supreme Court’s decision in a similar case (Tennessee Clean Water Network, et al. v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 18-1307, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on June 12 dismissed the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) against the U.S. Department of State and its acting secretary, finding that the group lacks standing because a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreement does not require disclosure of two greenhouse gas concentration reports (Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Department of State, No. 18-563, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98527).
ALBANY, N.Y. — A New York appellate panel on June 13 affirmed a ruling in favor of two insurers in an environmental contamination suit after determining that the insurers were not timely notified of the claim filed against their insured and that no reasonable explanation was provided for the more than three-year delay in notifying the insurers of the claim (New York v. Diana L. Flora, et al., No. 526787, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 3rd Dept., 2019 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4768).
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles-based environmental group on June 11 filed a lawsuit in California federal court against a cement mixing and recycling company, complaining that stormwater discharges from the company’s facility contain levels of iron, oil, grease and total suspended solids that violate the amounts allowed by it National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (Los Angeles Waterkeeper v. Security Paving Co., No. 19-cv-5068, C.D. Calif.).