Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Category Archives: Environmental Quality

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Hazardous Waste Transporters Beware !

Posted in Environmental Quality
The Oregon Supreme Court upheld a penalty assessed against a hazardous waste Transporter for failure to manifest hazardous waste regardless of whether it reasonably relied on a determination by the generator that the waste was not hazardous. This ruling suggests an affirmative duty on transporters to make their own determinations. By way of background, the… Continue Reading

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s Environmental Partners to Discuss the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act During American Bar Association Webinar 10.20.16

Posted in California, Environmental Quality
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP partners Kerry Shea and Larry Burke to join the American Bar Association webinar on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, along with Hope Schmeltzer, Assistant Regional Counsel at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Thomas Fusillo, Managing Principal at Ramboll Environ. This webinar will address the management of hazardous waste, solid… Continue Reading

Unanimous Support for Conservation in Senate Appropriations Committee

Posted in Environmental Quality, Rulemakings, Water Law
Who knew?  On May 19 those wild eyed environmentalists on the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously (no misprint) passed a FY 2017 agriculture and rural development bill that includes significant funding for conservation work.  The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote, and if it passes, back to the House for reconciliation.… Continue Reading

BP has settled its Clean Water Act penalty claims, but important questions remain to be decided

Posted in Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Litigation
The United States and BP lodged their proposed settlement of the remaining claims by the US in connection with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill with the US District Court today. Comments to the Justice Department are due by Friday, December 4, 2015.  The details of the proposed settlement, which includes the largest Clean Water Act… Continue Reading

USFWS Launches New Regulatory Program Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Posted in Environmental Quality, Renewables
The US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Notice of Intent to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of an incidental take program under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The agency anticipates the development of general authorizations for particular industry sectors, focusing first on oil and gas… Continue Reading

California Supreme Court’s CEQA Ruling Reaches Beyond Residential Development

Posted in California, Environmental Quality, NEPA, Rulemakings
On Monday March 2, the California Supreme Court handed down a decision allowing a Berkeley home builder to use an exemption from detailed environmental assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) in its proposed construction of a nearly 10,000 square foot residence in the Berkeley hills.  While the limited holding of the case relates… Continue Reading

Stringency and Flexibility – Two Sides of the Same Coin in EPA’s Proposed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations for Existing Power Plants

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal
EPA’s ground-breaking proposal to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants has been lauded by some for affording states considerable flexibility, while also being criticized by others for being stringent.  In fact, it’s both. Flexibility is provided in the proposed regulations by permitting emission reductions to be achieved within four “building block” policies. … Continue Reading

California Low Carbon Fuel Standards Survive Ninth Circuit Petition for Rehearing

Posted in California, Climate Change, Environmental Quality, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Rulemakings
On January 22nd, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined petitions to reconsider their decision upholding of enforceability of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).  The petitions were spearheaded by various trade groups and energy groups, including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, who argued that the LCFS’s strict… Continue Reading

Is Carbon Capture and Sequestration the Best or Even an Achievable Control Technology To Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants?

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Rulemakings
EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas emission standards for new power plants rest on the agency’s finding that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies are “achievable” and the “best system” for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.  This finding is highly debatable and will likely be the focal point of political and legal… Continue Reading

West Virginia Chemical Spill Likely to Bring Oil and Chemical Inspections and Perhaps Regulatory Changes for Facilities with Large Above Ground Storage Tanks (“AST’s”)

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety
Last Thursday residents of Kanawha County reported a foul licorice odor in the air. State and local officials traced the smell to a leak from a 35,000-gallon above ground storage tank along the Elk River.The chemical had overflowed a containment area around the tank, then migrated over land and through the soil into the river.… Continue Reading

THE PACIFIC COAST ACTION PLAN ON CLIMATE AND ENERGY – WILL IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental Quality, Northwest
By Craig Gannett and Mark Perlis Late last month, the Governors of California, Oregon, and Washington joined with the Premier of British Columbia to sign a Pacific Coast Climate Action Plan on Climate and Energy (PCAP).  Like its ill-fated predecessor, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), the PCAP attempts to fill the void created by Congress’ failure… Continue Reading

Ecology to hold public meetings on updates to human health criteria in Washington’s water quality standards

Posted in Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Water Law
On September 12 and 16, 2013, Ecology will hold public meetings at its headquarters in Lacey, Washington regarding its rulemaking to update Washington’s surface water quality standards.  The rule making will set new human health criteria and implement regulatory tools to help dischargers comply with water quality standards. … Continue Reading

Those Dam Polluters!

Posted in Electric Power, Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas, Water Law
The Columbia and Snake River federal network of dams, and the abundance of low cost electricity it produces, has long been the cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest manufacturing economy.  It has also supported another industry—the legions of lawyers fighting over the environmental effects.  The latest iteration is an attack brought by Columbia Riverkeepers against the… Continue Reading

President Obama Unveils Climate Action Plan

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Natural Resources
President Obama published a formal Climate Action Plan last month, announcing the plan in a speech delivered at Georgetown University. The plan organizes the President’s executive actions under three pillars: (1) Cutting Carbon Pollution in America; (2) Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change; and, (3) Leading International Efforts to address Global… Continue Reading

BSEE and Coast Guard Sign Memorandum of Agreement for Regulating Mobile Offshore Drilling Units

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety, Oil & Gas
A recent advisory from DWT partners Glenn Benson and Barbara Jost: On June 4, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) and the U.S. Coast Guard signed a Memorandum of Agreement regarding division of lead agency responsibilities between the two agencies for regulation, inspection, and oversight of systems… Continue Reading

BLM Revises Proposed Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety, Land Use, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Water Law
A recent advisory from DWT partners Glenn Benson and Barbara Jost: On May 16, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a revised proposed rule regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands for oil and gas production. In response to the more than 177,000 public comments submitted in… Continue Reading

City of Seattle and King County Agree to Major Upgrades to Settle Discharge Violations

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Northwest, Water Law
To settle an enforcement action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the State of Washington (“State”), King County and the City of Seattle have agreed to complete major upgrades to their local sewage and combined stormwater collection, piping and treatment systems to address allegedly illegal discharges.  In addition, the County and City have… Continue Reading

Logging Roads Get A Pass – At Least For Now

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Northwest, Water Law
Yesterday, in a 7-1 decision with Justice Scalia the lone dissenter, the U.S. Supreme Court handed a major victory to the forest products industry.  As it does so often, the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling that had required Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for sediment laden stormwater that runs off of logging roads.  The… Continue Reading

The United States Allocated 40% of Liability for Contamination Caused by a Contractor’s Manufacturing Operations

Posted in CERCLA, Environmental Quality
From Lynn Manolopoulos of our Bellevue office and Scott Broadwell of our Anchorage office: A recent decision by a federal court in the Central District of California found the United States liable for 40% of the response costs related to contamination from the manufacture of ammunition and rocket motors for the United States under governmental… Continue Reading

EPA Releases Proposed Cleanup Plan for Lower Duwamish Waterway

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Natural Resources
Yesterday, EPA released a proposed plan for cleanup of the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site.  The release kicks off the 105-day public comment period. EPA estimates that the cleanup will cost $305 million.  Approximately 156 acres of contaminated sediments will be addressed using a combination of dredging, capping and enhanced natural recovery.  The proposed cleanup… Continue Reading

It Is Easy to Lose the Privilege Protecting Audit Documents

Posted in Environmental Quality, Natural Resources
In a recent case, documents related to an audit which was described in internal correspondence as being done to assess general compliance were not privileged in later civil litigation since the Court found: (1) the audit was conducted as a regular business activity; and (2) defendants could not establish that litigation was the “driving force”… Continue Reading