CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An expert witness is allowed to offer opinions on how pollution cleanup costs for a Superfund site in Seattle should be allocated among responsible parties, including Chapter 11 debtors Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement Inc., a federal bankruptcy judge ruled in a June 24 docket entry (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
The attorneys general of Minnesota and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits in state court on June 24 and June 25, respectively, claiming that Exxon Mobil Corp. and others mislead consumers about the association between burning fossil fuels and climate change and have employed a “greenwashing” campaign that downplays the science of climate change, as well as their roles in contributing to global warming (Minnesota v. American Petroleum Institute, et al., No. 62 CV-20-3837, Minn. Dist., Ramsey Co., District of Columbia v. Exxon Mobil Corp., et al., No. 2020 CA 002892, D.C. Super.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The mayor and city council of Baltimore told the U.S. Supreme Court in a response brief filed June 29 that an alleged circuit split as to whether rulings remanding lawsuits are subject to full review is “insignificant” and that a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision affirming remand of its climate change lawsuit against BP PLC and other energy companies does not need to be reviewed (BP PLC, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, No. 19-1189, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court wants to know the federal government’s opinion on whether a consolidated Indian tribe in Idaho has jurisdiction to collect fees from a company to store hazardous waste at a Superfund site on tribal land, with the court on June 29 asking the solicitor general to brief the issue (FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, No. 19-1143, U.S. Sup.).
INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge in Indiana on June 16 adopted a magistrate judge’s June 1 recommendation to grant a joint motion to bar future contribution claims against defendant companies in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lawsuit and dismissed claims against the two remaining defendant companies that did not reach settlements with the plaintiff (Haber Land Co. Ltd. v. American Steel City Industrial Leasing Inc., et al., No. 18-cv-04091-JMS-MJD, S.D. Ind.).
ALBANY, N.Y. — A federal judge in New York on June 17 denied motions for reconsideration filed by defendant companies in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit, holding that BASF Corp.’s contribution claim under the statute was timely because it was brought within three years of entering into an agreement with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 2017 regarding remediation of a portion of a site (BASF Corp. v. Albany Molecular Research, et al., No. 19-cv-0134, N.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105792).
MILWAUKEE — A real estate company and a family trust on June 16 sued a chemical company in Wisconsin federal court, contending that it is liable under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) for remediating groundwater contamination of property the trust owns (Grossmanns Family Real Estate LLC, et al. v. Great Lakes Synergy Corporation, No. 20-905, E.D. Wis.).
NEW YORK — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrators say in a reply brief filed May 29 in a New York federal court that 15 environmental groups cannot force the agency to implement a rule that requires regulated entities to justify how the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered them unable to comply with the monitoring and reporting requirements because they lack organization and associational standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution (Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 20 Civ. 3058, S.D. N.Y.).
DENVER — Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc. told the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a June 12 letter that it should disregard two recent Ninth Circuit rulings that held that climate change lawsuits brought by California municipalities belong in state court because in the 10th Circuit, the “scope of appellate review of remand orders is an open question” (Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County, et al. v. Suncor [U.S.A.] Inc., et al., No. 19-1330, 10th Cir.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A private contractor that operated and managed a laboratory that designed and tested nuclear weapons was awarded partial judgment on June 9 on a group’s claims accusing it of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to comply with a 2005 consent order over its handling of hazardous waste after a federal judge in New Mexico ruled that the defendant no longer possessed an RCRA permit and that it was in the process of winding down its operations (Nuclear Watch New Mexico v. U.S. Department of Energy, et al., No. 16-cv-00433-JCH-SCY, D. N.M., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101754).
CAMDEN, N.J. — E.I du Pont de Nemours & Co. and the Chemours Co. FC LLC (collectively, DuPont) properly removed a lawsuit brought by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and others over a contaminated site in Gibbstown, N.J., that was used for manufacturing explosives during World War I and World War II, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled May 22 after finding that the companies were acting under the federal government when disposing of hazardous substances (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., et al., No. 19-cv-14765-NLH-LS, D. N.J., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90151).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Maryland appeals panel on June 1 ruled that an energy company could pass on to consumers almost $6 million in remediation costs for the cleanup of a site where manufactured gas was made as part of a rate increase, finding that the inclusion of the cleanup costs is allowed under the state’s public utility law (Maryland Office of People’s Counsel v. Maryland Public Service Commission, et al., No. 0789, September Term 2019, Md. Spec. App., 2020 Md. App. LEXIS 516).
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana on June 9 granted in part the federal government’s motion in limine seeking to preclude defendant companies in an Oil Pollution Act of 1990 lawsuit from introducing evidence regarding submissions to the U.S. Coast Guard under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the timeliness of its responses, holding that the information cannot be used to assert a spoliation claim because the companies never previously raised the argument (United States v. ERR LLC, et al., No. 19-2340, E.D. La., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100593).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A federal judge in Missouri on June 5 denied a motion for summary judgment filed by Kansas City Power & Light Co.’s (KCP&L) in a lawsuit seeking recovery costs for remediation of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination at a portion of property it once owned, ruling that genuine disputes exist about whether the chemical was used at the site during the company’s ownership (Substation K Inc. v. Kansas City Power & Light Co., No. 19-cv-00031-SRB, W.D. Mo., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99031).
SAN FRANCISCO — A 2-1 Ninth Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on June 3 affirmed a federal judge in California’s decision to equally allocate future costs for cleanup of perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination between a city and a company that formerly operated a dry cleaning business, holding that the judge did not abuse his discretion when using two alternative methodologies as part of his calculation (Mission Linen Co. v. Visalia, No. 19-15392, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 17441).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on June 1 remanded a lawsuit brought by West Virginia State University (WVSU) against the current and past owners of a neighboring site that seeks to have the defendant companies conduct cleanup activities in addition to those already required by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), holding that the university’s suit does not raise a federal question and that the defendants are not “acting under” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by doing work required by a permit issued under the statute (West Virginia State University Board of Governors v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 17-cv-3558, S.D. W.Va., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95621).
BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts wrote in a decision filed May 28 that his March 18 decision to remand the state’s consumer protection lawsuit accusing Exxon Mobil Corp. of misleading consumers and investors about the relationship between the use of its products and climate change was based on the well-pleaded complaint rule and that the state’s claims can proceed in state court because they are not preempted by federal law (Massachusetts v. Exxon Mobil Corp., No. 19-12430-WGY, D. Mass., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93153).
CHICAGO — A Wisconsin couple on May 27 filed a brief in the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that a district court committed reversible error when it granted summary judgment to an industrial facility regarding contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) because it “improperly weighed the evidence and relied on unreliable manipulated data” (William Liebhart, et al. v. SPX Corp., et al., No. 20-1384, 7th Cir.).
BOSTON — An environmental advocacy group and a beach club on May 26 filed a joint motion in the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seeking remand of a groundwater contamination lawsuit against a beach club, arguing that it should remand the case to district court for entry of a proposed consent decree in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund (Conservation Law Foundation Inc. v. Longwood Venues & Destinations Inc., et al., No. 20-1024, 1st Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 26 limited its review of a federal judge in California’s ruling that remanded three climate change lawsuits brought by counties and municipalities against energy companies and held that the judge properly found that the companies were not acting under the government’s direction when extracting, producing and selling fossil fuels (County of San Mateo, et al. v. Chevron Corp., et al., No. 18-15499, 9th Cir.).