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Federal Environmental Law Archives

Tolling Agreements between PRPs Cannot Negate Settling PRP's Entitlement to Benefit of its Settlement

After settling with EPA and having its settlement upheld in court, a potentially responsible party (PRP) is free from liability to all other PRPs given notice of that proposed settlement under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund). This principle, long recognized as key to CERCLA's successful performance, was recently affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in its ASARCO, LLC v. Union Pacific Railroad Company decision. 

Recent Endangered Species Act Verdict Reinforces Traditional Legal Principles

Though the Endangered Species Act has very strong prohibitory language, in practice its bark is sometimes much worse than its bite. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit's recent decision in The Aranas Project v. Shaw, et al. has preserved the statute's status as a mere "paper tiger" by reversing a district court ruling which had the potential to preserve the dwindling wild whooping crane population.

New York State to Explore Offshore Wind Power

Historically a proud leader in environmental protection, New York State is poised to claim a new reason for that title: New York has emerged a leader in the field of renewable energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, New York now ranks fourth in the United States for renewable energy generation, and fifth in renewable energy capacity.

Yet Another Legal Challenge to the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station Fails

A marine transfer station operated on the East River at 91st Street for nearly six decades, temporarily storing municipal waste along the East River before loading it onto barges for disposal outside of Manhattan. But in 2004, the New York City announced plans to build a newer, larger MTS on the site as part of a new City-wide Solid Waste Management Plan. The City wanted to move even farther away from its reliance on expensive and environmentally unfriendly truck-based disposal methods, but the proposal for East 91st Street quickly became embroiled in years of litigation. 

EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gases Survives Supreme Court Scrutiny in UARG v. EPA

In environmental law, things aren't always what they seem at first blush. Hence, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, 134 S. Ct. 1050 (2014) in June, both industry and EPA claimed victory. Given that the Court struck down EPA's interpretation of its authority under two specific provisions of the Clean Air Act, how could EPA claim a win? 

Obama Takes Strong Position on Marine Protection

The United States will soon be home to the largest protected area on the planet, at land or at sea: President Obama has announced his intent to preserve a 782,000-mile stretch of the central Pacific Ocean.

Former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company is NYC's Newest Federal Superfund Site

New Yorkers like to think their city is the biggest and baddest, and now there's another reason for those sobriquets: last month, the former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site - less than 1,000 feet from a public middle school and a private day care center- earned the title of most radioactive site in New York City today, and became the second radioactive site in New York City in the Superfund program's history. On May 8, 2014, EPA listed the 3/4-acre property located at Irving Avenue and Cooper Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens, as a federal Superfund site. This is the third active federal Superfund site in New York City.

Largest Environmental Settlement in History Reached in Kerr-McGee Case

In a triumph of environmental responsibility and justice over corporate attempts to disclaim environmental liabilities, the former Kerr-McGee Corporation has been ordered to clean up after itself.

Expanded Clean Water Act Jurisdiction could be Coming 'Round the River Bend

How easily can a significant expansion in jurisdiction be called just a "clarification" of existing jurisdiction? On April 21, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers published a proposed rule that promises to significantly change federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. While EPA Administrator Gina McCarty has described the proposed rule as merely a clarification of existing EPA authority, if finalized, it will likely expand CWA permit requirements to include minor tributaries and even seasonal waters such as vernal pools as "waters of the United States." 

Court Determines that All Remediation at a Superfund Site Constitutes One "Remedial Action"

How many remediation angels can dance on a single remediation pinhead? In the recent NL Industries v. ACF Industries ruling, a federal judge in the Western District of New York decided that, for the purposes of CERCLA cost recovery and declaratory judgment claims, all actions taken to clean up a Superfund site constitute one set of remedial actions, regardless of the number of "operable units" the site is divided into during the remediation.

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