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Reducing Environmental Risk

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Federal Environmental Law Archives

"As Is" Clauses

Seldom is a knowledgeable buyer with experienced counsel willing to accept property "as is." Nonetheless, if that is the agreed term of the transaction, then special care must be taken to make that provision effective. It will be construed against the seller.

Term Definition: Environmental Requirements

Environmental Requirements: Traditionally the term used is "Environmental Law," but "Requirements" is more accurate as the definition goes beyond statutes and regulations.

Term Definition: Hazardous Material

A major problem with definitions of environmental terms in commercial and real estate transaction documents is that they become overly inclusive, confusing, and unworkable. A definition of "hazardous materials" which includes virtually every substance known to man in any amount at any concentration, will be impossible to satisfy in any representation regarding the absence of hazardous materials on the property. Conversely, a representation regarding "Environmental Laws" or "Environmental Requirements" may be less than anticipated if the definition uses the "list" approach and certain key environmental laws or requirements are not included. Much clarity can be obtained in the operative provisions by using defined terms with consistent and detailed definitions. The definitions often contain the key issues in the transactions and deserve considerable attention. 

Cost Cap Insurance Policy

Cost-Cap insurance policies pay for costs that exceed the estimated cost of a remedial plan. These policies typically have large "co-insurance" and deductible provisions, so that the insured must still pay a significant portion of the cost overruns. Policies are also available to cover contractors and consultants for environmental liabilities. 

Environmental Due Diligence in the Real Estate and Business Deal - Background Legal Principles

By way of background, if you're a real estate lawyer, you'll want to understand that environmental law principles as applied in the context mostly derive from established real estate principles, though with a few twists - others can skim through this discussion or even skip it, but you might find it's interesting. Some of this is borrowed from my environmental law colleague Alan Knauf, with thanks: 

Environmental Due Diligence in the Real Estate - Overview

This is the first of a series of blogs designed to provide a detailed "primer" for the commercial real estate professional and investor. My goal is unlock what some still see as the mysterious world of environmental risk in the sale or lease of virtually all non-residential properties; more importantly, how do you do it to protect yourself to the maximum practical extent? 

New York Navigation Law Sec 181. Liability. Section 3

3. (a) The owner or operator of a major facility or vessel which has discharged petroleum shall be strictly liable, without regard to fault, subject to the defenses enumerated in subdivision four of this section, for all cleanup and removal costs and all direct and indirect damages paid by the fund. However, the cleanup and removal costs and direct and indirect damages which may be recovered by the fund with respect to each incident shall not exceed: (i) for a tank vessel, the greater of:
(1) one thousand two hundred dollars per gross ton; or
(2) (A) in the case of a vessel greater than three thousand gross tons, ten million dollars; or (B) in the case of a vessel or three thousand gross tons or less, two million dollars; 

N.Y. Navigation Law Sec. 176. Removal of prohibited discharges. Sections 4 - 6

4. Cleanup and removal of petroleum and actions to minimize damage from discharges shall be, to the greatest extent possible, in accordance with the National Contingency Plan for removal of oil and hazardous substances established pursuant to section 311 (d) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.), as amended by the Federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), or revised under section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (42 U.S.C. 9605). 5. The department in consultation with the attorney general shall develop a standard contract form to be used when contracting services for the cleanup and removal of a discharge. 

N.Y. Navigation Law Sec. 176. Removal of prohibited discharges. Sections 7 - 8

7. (a) Nothing in this section is intended to preclude cleanup and removal by any person threatened by such discharges, who, as soon as is reasonably possible, coordinates and obtains approval for such actions with ongoing state or federal operations and appropriate state and federal authorities. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the liability of any contractor for such person, where such person obtains approval from appropriate state and federal authorities for such cleanup and removal, and the liability of any person providing services related to the cleanup or removal of a discharge, under contract with the department, for any injury to a person or property caused by or related to such services shall be limited to acts or omissions of the person during the course of performing such services which are shown to have been the result of negligence, gross negligence or reckless, wanton or intentional misconduct. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, when (i) a verdict or decision in an action or claim for injury to a person or property caused by or related to such services is determined in favor of a claimant in an action involving a person performing such services and any other person or persons jointly liable, and (ii) the liability of the person performing such services is found to be fifty percent or less of the total liability assigned to all persons liable, and (iii) the liability of the person performing such services is not based on a finding of reckless disregard for the safety of others, or intentional misconduct, then the liability of the person performing such services to the claimant for loss relating to injury to property and for non-economic loss relating to injury to a person shall not exceed the equitable share of the person performing such services determined in accordance with the relative culpability of each person causing or contributing to the total liability for such losses; provided, however, that the culpable conduct of any person not a party to the action shall not be considered in determining any equitable share herein if the claimant proves that with due diligence the claimant was unable to obtain jurisdiction over such person in said action. As used in this section, the term "non-economic loss" includes, but is not limited to, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium or other damages for non-economic loss. However, nothing in this subdivision shall be deemed to alter, modify or abrogate the liability of any person performing such services for breach of any express warranty, limited or otherwise, or an express or implied warranty under the uniform commercial code, or to an employee of such person pursuant to the workers' compensation law, or to relieve from any liability any person who is responsible for a discharge in violation of section one hundred seventy-four of this article.(b) No action taken by any person to contain or remove a discharge shall be construed as an admission of liability for said discharge. No person who gratuitously renders assistance in containing or removing a discharge shall be liable for any civil damages to third parties resulting solely from acts or omissions of such person in rendering such assistance except for acts or omissions of gross negligence or willful misconduct. In the course of cleanup and removal, no person shall discharge any detergent into the waters of this state without prior authorization of the commissioner of environmental conservation. 

N.Y. Navigation Law Sec. 172. Definitions Sections 7 - 14

Environmental Statutes, Codes, Regulations and Related Materials
N.Y. Navigation Law Sec. 172. Definitions Sections 7 - 14 

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