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Environment, Health & Safety enforcement and litigation

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In the midst of COVID-19, attorneys general of 18 States urge stronger EPA Action on PFAS

Last Friday, April 17, the attorneys general of New York, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin filed a comment letter with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the agency to take more comprehensive actions regarding per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (collectively, … Continue Reading

TCEQ implementing a more tailored case-by-case enforcement policy than the U.S. EPA in response to COVID-19

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced that it will exercise enforcement discretion on a case-by-case basis as opposed to the EPA’s broader temporary enforcement policy issued on March 26, 2020. Under its more tailored approach, the TCEQ has not relaxed any limits on air emissions or discharges to water. Similarly, the TCEQ has … Continue Reading

DOJ: civil penalty obligations temporarily suspended

In conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) move to relax enforcement efforts, and despite criticism of the EPA’s move, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has suspended collection of civil penalty payments for six weeks – until at least May 31, 2020 – in a move that could be a demonstration that federal government … Continue Reading

COVID-19 induced force majeure applied to environmental obligations

As governments and health authorities institute increasingly strict responses to COVID-19, companies worldwide face unprecedented challenges in meeting their otherwise “business as usual” contractual and regulatory obligations. While these challenges span all areas of business, this post focuses on particular environmental obligations and associated risks. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently instituted a temporary … Continue Reading

California environmental agencies less flexible than U.S. EPA re enforcement policy in response to COVID-19

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown some flexibility in enforcement of environmental regulatory obligations during the outbreak of COVID-19, at this stage in the pandemic, California will not typically excuse noncompliance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 26, 2020, the EPA issued a memorandum implementing a temporary enforcement discretion policy due … Continue Reading

EPA response actions during COVID-19: Continue, reduce, or suspend?

There are many types of cleanup occurring across the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic under a range of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorities, including, but not limited to, the Superfund program, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act corrective action, Toxic Substances Control Act polychlorinated biphenyl cleanup provisions, the Oil Pollution Act, and the Underground Storage … Continue Reading

EPA responds to criticisms of its new temporary enforcement discretion policy

In response to the backlash regarding the EPA’s implementation of a temporary enforcement discretion policy, the EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, described the temporary policy as “very mild” in comparison to the agency’s actions in prior crises. On March 26, 2020, the EPA issued a memorandum implementing a temporary enforcement discretion policy due to the coronavirus … Continue Reading

Force majeure as a shield for governmental enforcement in a post-COVID-19 world: putting your company in the best position vis-a-vis force majeure clauses in agreements with governmental agencies  

In these unprecedented days, you read a lot about force majeure and “act of God” defenses to commercial contract publications. Companies affected by the current pandemic are looking to contract terms to minimize their financial losses as the pandemic forces closures and cancellations, and productivity drops off in many industries. This post addresses a small … Continue Reading

EPA announces new temporary enforcement discretion policy

In an unprecedented move, today (March 26, 2020) EPA issued a memorandum to its governmental and private sector partners about its new temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The memo states the EPA will exercise its enforcement discretion for noncompliance covered by temporary policy and resulting from the … Continue Reading

Administrative agencies have broad subpoena power

A recent decision by a California court of appeal clarified the breadth of the California Water Resources Control Board’s (Board) subpoena power, which could have implications for other state agencies in California and elsewhere.  Moreover, private entities which are the subject of an administrative investigation may have a difficult time withholding financial records even if … Continue Reading

CSB proposes rule on accidental release reporting

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB or Agency) recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its accidental reporting rule in the Federal Register (Proposed Rule). The CSB was established by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which directed the Agency, among other things, to investigate and report on any accidental release “resulting in … Continue Reading

EPA again rolls back Obama Administration RMP regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a reconsideration rule rescinding many of the agency’s changes and additions made during the Obama administration to strengthen the Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations that address facilities using highly hazardous chemicals. This rulemaking follows the D.C. Circuit’s decision in 2018 that the EPA’s previous effort to rescind … Continue Reading

UK Court of Appeal reaffirms new, tougher stance on sentencing for environmental pollution offences

Several years ago, we wrote a detailed article explaining the new, tougher approach in the UK to the sentencing of environmental offences committed by large companies. That article, from 2015 (see: https://www.reedsmith.com/en/perspectives/2015/10/uk-courts-get-tough-on-environmental-crime-sentenc), focussed on the Court of Appeal’s decision in R v. Thames Water Utilities Ltd [2015] EWCA Crim 960.… Continue Reading

Cal/OSHA Appeals Board proposes revisions to procedural rules, including elimination of automatic discovery

The California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (Board) is soliciting public comments on proposed revisions to its Rules of Practice and Procedure. The three-member Board hears appeals from public- and private-sector employers regarding citations issued by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and is authorized to adopt procedural rules related to … Continue Reading

Important questions left unanswered as rare ECJ case rules that debris from a fire on board a ship is excluded from international shipment of waste rules

This blog post provides a brief commentary on the transboundary movement of waste case of Conti 11 v. the Land of Lower Saxony, Germany (Case C689-17). The law on the international shipment of waste is of increasing importance to many global businesses. The Reed Smith Environmental, Health & Safety team regularly handles cases on this subject involving … Continue Reading

Broader focus on environmental and safety crimes as Harris County announces new charges against Arkema

Following last year’s indictments of Arkema Inc. (Arkema) CEO Richard Rowe and plant manager Leslie Comardelle, a Texas grand jury recently indicted Mike Keough, Arkema’s Vice President of Logistics, in connection with allegations that Arkema failed to provide adequate emergency response information to response officials. Along with this indictment, recent charges against Intercontinental Terminals Company … Continue Reading

What does the Pennsylvania EHB aggregation decision and opinion mean for your business?

Clean Air Council v. Department of Environmental Protection and Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals, L.P., EHB Dkt. No. 2016073L (Adjudication Jan. 9, 2019) On January 9, 2019, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board issued its adjudication in an appeal by Clean Air Council of a plan approval issued to Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals, L.P. The Board ultimately remanded … Continue Reading

Environmental Areas of Interest in 2019 – A look ahead

The past year has been a busy one in environmental law and policy. While a look ahead could include topics such as likely impacts from continuing efforts by the current U.S. administration to bolster use of coal-fired energy or the myriad lawsuits facing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2019 from environmental groups and state attorneys general, … Continue Reading
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