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Showing 11 posts in Enforcement Action.

On February 18, 2021, the Court in Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, et al., v. Keystone Protein Co., No. 1:19-CV-01307, 2021 WL 632734, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 18, 2021), denied a factory owner’s motion for summary judgment based on its holding that the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) and the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law (“PCSL”) are not “roughly comparable” statutes. In so deciding, the plaintiffs’ citizen’s suit, alleging violations under the CWA, was allowed to proceed notwithstanding that the defendant factory had settled litigation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”) for the same violations under the PCSL. Read More »

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan refused to void a private settlement agreement entered between Sierra Club and DTE in the face of an objection by the United States that the settlement agreement interfered with a related consent decree and infringed on the government’s enforcement authority. United States v. DTE Energy Co., et al., No. 10-CV-13101 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 3, 2020). Read More »

Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated opinion in EQT Prod. Co. v. Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., No. 6 MAP 2017, 2018 WL 1516385, (Pa. Mar. 28, 2018), holding that the Clean Streams Law (“CSL”) does not authorize the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) to impose daily penalties for the ongoing, continuing presence of pollutants in waters of the Commonwealth. In the 5-to-2 decision, which affirmed in part the Commonwealth Court’s preceding opinion, the Court ruled that to construe the language of the CSL as allowing penalties for the movement of pollutants from one water body to another (DEP’s “water-to-water” theory) was not only unsupported by the statutory language, but would also expose the regulated community to potentially massive civil penalties, and as such, DEP’s penalty calculations including penalties for the days the pollutants remained in the affected groundwater after the initial discharge were excessive. Read More »

Last week, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held in a unanimous decision that latent environmental property contamination triggered several comprehensive general liability (“CGL”) insurance policies despite the fact that the contamination was not discovered until at least a decade later. In doing so, the Court resolved a question left open by two earlier Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions over whether latent property damage in “occurrence” policies is triggered at the time the damage occurs or when the damage first manifests itself.     Read More »

In an unpublished opinion issued last week, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court found that a local ordinance that declares as a nuisance “the escape into the open air . . . of smoke, fly ash, dust, fumes, vapors, mists, or gases as to cause injury, detriment or annoyance . . .” is neither preempted by the New Jersey Solid Waste Management Act (“SWMA”) nor unconstitutionally broad or vague.  The case, New Jersey v. Strategic Environmental Partners, LLC, No. A-4968-13T4, was decided on November 19, 2015 by Judges Messano and Simonelli. Read More »

An issue that insurers and industry have grappled with is whether a company can obtain environmental insurance coverage for costs to address violations of the Clean Air Act, when the costs at issue are aimed at curbing future air emissions, rather than remediating emissions that have already occurred.  Last week, one federal judge in Louisiana answered that question in the affirmative in La Gen Louisiana Gen. LLC, et al. v. Illinois Union Ins. Co., Dkt. No. 3:10-cv-00516 (M.D. La., Aug. 5, 2015).  Read More »

In a unanimous opinion that probably surprises no one, today the United States Supreme Court ruled in Sackett v. EPA, No. 10-1062 (Mar. 31, 2012), that Administrative Compliance Orders are final agency orders which are subject to the Administrative Procedures Act and thus can be appealed even in the absence of an enforcement action by the EPA. Read More »

Although CERCLA has been around for many years, courts are still interpreting both its parts and its whole.  In recent years, the Supreme Court has tried to direct traffic between Section 107(a), which permits PRPs to bring cost recovery actions against other PRPs for “any necessary costs of response incurred” by the PRP bringing suit, and Section 113(f), which permits PRPs who have been sued under section 106 or 107(a) or have entered into a judicially-approved settlement with a federal or state government resolving CERCLA liability to bring actions for contribution against other PRPs to recover amounts paid in excess of their equitable share of liability.   Because these two provisions have differing limitations periods, burdens of proof, and allow for different forms of recovery against multiple defendants, the distinction is often significant. Read More »

Since the Supreme Court issued its splintered 4-1-4 decision in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006), district and circuit courts have grappled with how to define “wetlands” for purposes of application of the Clean Water Act.  Whether adding to the confusion or bringing clarity to the subject, the Third Circuit for the first time has weighed in on the issue in United States v. Donovan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, No. 10-4295 (3rd Cir., October 31, 2011) (J. Rendell).  Donovan a land owner, defended an enforcement action on the basis that  the Clean Water Act did not apply to his actions in filling part of his property and that the Army Corps lacked jurisdiction because the wetlands at issue were not adjacent to navigable-in-fact waters.  The Third Circuit disagreed.  While Donovan may be disappointed by this decision (after litigating the issues for 15 years), the case has much more far-reaching ramifications. Read More »

Last month I blogged about Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (10-1062), the case involving pre-enforcement judicial review of compliance orders under the Clean Water Act that will be argued before the United States Supreme Court this term. Read More »