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March 2011 Archives

U.S. District Court imposes CERCLA liability on U.S. as an arranger and an operator of a western mining operation.

In a case decided earlier this month from the U.S. District for Idaho, the Court imposed arranger and operator liability on the United States based on its permitting procedures and requirements at mining operations on federal lands. Nu-West Mining Inc. v. United States, Case No.: 4:09-CV-431 (D. Idaho March 4, 2011). The subject site is located in the Caribou National Forest in Idaho where there are four phosphate mines. The facts were that, in 1949, the U.S. leased out the right to mine to private companies, and, as part of the lease, the lessees had to obtain approval of plans for mining, waste disposal and reclamation. After the lessee received that approval, the U.S. performed inspections to ensure the lessee was properly disposing of mining waste and paying full royalties to the U.S., and also monitored environmental conditions at the mining sites, including water quality sampling. 

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Proposes Amendments to Environmental Assessment Forms

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") recently proposed amending its Short and Long Environmental Assessment Forms ("EAFs"), and is accepting public comment on the revised forms through April 8, 2011. These forms are used in the environmental review process that is required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA"), ECL §§ 8-0101 et seq., for any state action, which includes approval of project permits. The project sponsor and the lead agency undertaking the environmental review will complete an EAF (either long or short depending on the proposed action) to determine whether a full environmental review is warranted, that is, whether the applicant will need to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS). Typically the Long EAF is used for Type I actions (these are actions, set forth in the regulations, that are more likely to require the preparation of an EIS), and the Short EAF is used for Unlisted Actions (which are actions that have not been listed in the regulations as Type I or Type II, and which are always subject to at least an environmental review). See 6 NYCRR §§ 617.4, 617.6. 

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