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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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


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

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to Lower Emissions Cap

Posted in Environmental Quality, Natural Resources
From Allison Davis of our San Francisco Office: As predicted earlier, the U.S. Northeast’s cap-and-trade program, RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) will reduce its cap, which was above current pollution levels.  The inflated cap depressed the RGGI permit price for carbon credits to under $2, way below the projected $20-$30 (causing New Jersey’s Chris Christie… Continue Reading

America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Health and Safety
Mother Jones has published an article that discusses the connection between damaging exposures to lead and increased crime rates, which, in turn, are linked to the adverse, toxic effects of lead, especially to developing male brains.  It posits that the benefits to society from crime reduction far outweigh the costs of further reductions in childhood… Continue Reading

Chamber Challenges Today’s GHG Emissions Auction in California

Posted in California, Environmental Quality, Renewables
From Allison Davis of our San Francisco Office: California’s largest business lobby filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to invalidate California’s first greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions allowance auction scheduled for today.  The California Chamber of Commerce asserts that AB 32, California’s global warming law, did not authorize the state to raise funds by allocating GHG emissions… Continue Reading

EPA Extends the Deadline for Fiscal Year 2013 Brownfields Grant Proposals to December 3, 2012

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal
The Environmental Protection Agency is extending the deadline for state, local, and tribal governments (and other governmental entities, and in some cases, non-profit organizations) to apply for Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (ARC) Grants.  The general intent of the ARC Grants is to provide communities with funding needed to clean and redevelop contaminated… Continue Reading

California’s Cap and Trade Allowances Auction: Canary in a Coal Mine

Posted in California, Environmental Quality, Renewables
California holds its first Cap and Trade Allowances auction on Wednesday November 14, 2012.   Some see this as a make-or-break time, the test case to see if a Cap and Trade program for greenhouse gas emission allowances can get off the ground.  The first auction was originally scheduled for August 2012.  Some industry groups are… Continue Reading

Maximizing the Benefit of Appropriate Inquiry: CERCLA & Prospective Purchaser Considerations

Posted in CERCLA, Environmental Quality, Land Use
By: Larry Burke, Davis Wright Tremaine & John Foxwell, R.G., Ash Creek Associates As mentioned in Cheyenne Chapman’s Oregon State Bar Environmental and Natural Resources Section  E-Outlook article earlier this year (2012, Issue No. 3), Prospective Purchaser Agreements (“PPAs”) are an innovative approach to address barriers to the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites. According to… Continue Reading

EPA Moves Forward with Program for Safe Management of Used Electronics

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Land Use
Much attention has been given in recent years to the proper management of used electronics nearing the end of their lifecycles. Used electronics contain heavy metals and other toxic materials that may cause them to be regulated as hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when discarded. Additionally, numerous states – including… Continue Reading

9th Circuit: Alaska Natives Cannot Seek Damages for Climate Change from U.S. Energy Producers Based on Federal Common Law

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental Quality, Northwest
Legal Disputes Related to Climate Change Will Continue for a Century is the title of a recently published legal paper authored by Richard J. Pierce, Jr., a professor of Public Law at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.  He said he was confident that his current law students would be working on climate… Continue Reading