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Who is a Customer-Generator? Uncertainty Abounds for the Pennsylvania PUC

Last month, a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that certain net metering regulations of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) are unenforceable. The regulations at issue are related to the implementation of Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act (AEPS Act), which incentivizes the use of electricity generated by renewable sources such … Continue Reading

Is There Still a Place for Supplemental Environmental Projects in Pennsylvania?

SEPs, which permit a defendant to undertake an environmentally beneficial project in lieu of paying penalties—or in exchange for reduced penalties—have been seen as benefiting defendants, enforcement agencies and communities at the same time. SEPs have given enforcement agencies and defendants additional flexibility in negotiating consent decrees and settlement agreements, while also providing communities potentially … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania and the Circular Economy: Turning Waste Into Something New

The “circular economy” is coming to Pennsylvania. And if recent polling data are correct, it cannot come a moment too soon—and Pennsylvania attorneys and advisers would be well-advised to become acquainted with the coalescing legal and market forces that are driving the transition. In the circular economy, resources are extracted, made into products and then … Continue Reading

The Superfund Contribution Mind Pretzel…or One of Them

From the first days of Superfund litigation, lawyers and courts have complained that Congress did not distinguish itself when drafting the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. Sections 9601-75. As the law has developed, court decisions have created additional problems. The interplay among the private cost recovery provision of Section 107(a)(1-4)(B) … Continue Reading

Environmental Cases in the Pennsylvania Appellate Courts During 2019

By my count, the three Pennsylvania appellate courts decided 27 environmental cases in 2019. Categorization is somewhat subjective, so I apologize for any omissions. For brevity, citations are truncated, and omitted years are 2019. This survey briefly characterizes those cases under the following categories: Environmental Rights Amendment; pre-emption of local regulation; other local land use … Continue Reading

Are You Ready? Revisions to Management of Fill Policy Take Effect Jan. 1

As the economy strengthens, development and infrastructure projects continue on an upward trend. Whether the project involves remediating a brownfield site or performing utility work in a public right-of-way, the management of fill material such as soil, rock or stone is often a primary consideration impacting the project’s budget. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the … Continue Reading

Guidance for Voluntary Cleanups and Preserving Potential Contribution Rights

State voluntary cleanup programs have facilitated the cleanup and reuse of contaminated commercial and industrial properties throughout the country. The benefits of cleaning up and reusing contaminated properties are difficult to overstate—these voluntary cleanups promote reuse of existing infrastructure, protect human health, provide economic benefits to the surrounding area and assist in the preservation of … Continue Reading

Recent Executive Orders May Affect Regulatory Guidance

In early October, President Donald J. Trump issued two executive orders aimed to further his administration’s stated goal of reducing both executive agencies’ power and burdens on regulated entities. Both executive orders will affect how federal agencies issue informal guidance documents, through which agencies provide interpretation or clarification of regulations they have promulgated. The first, … Continue Reading

Supplemental Environmental Projects: How Will New Federal Policy Affect Use of SEPs and CEPs in Pennsylvania?

On August 21, 2019, the Justice Department issued a memorandum—Using Supplemental Environmental Projects (“SEPs”) in Settlements with State and Local Governments—which curtails the use of supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in consent decrees and settlement agreements with state and local governments.  The new policy will directly impact settlements with municipalities in Pennsylvania, while also reducing the … Continue Reading

An uncertain path to a cleaner future: Zero carbon electricity legislation in New York and California

With the recent passage of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which calls for a carbon free electricity market by 2040, New York became the sixth state to pass legislation calling for a carbon free electricity market. Just one year earlier, California passed similar legislation, SB100, adopting a state policy to achieve a zero-carbon … Continue Reading

Scorched: Extreme Heat and Real Estate

Each year, businesses in every sector are impacted by a variety of extreme weather events including hurricanes, forest fires, blizzards, and heatwaves. Earlier this year, Jillian Kirn was interviewed by the Urban Land Institute for their publication, Scorched: Extreme Heat and Real Estate. The report examines ways in which land use, real estate, and design … Continue Reading

Court Revisits PEDF on Remand: Limits on Environmental Rights Amendment

On July 29, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court returned to Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth, a leading case on the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. The court appears to have decided that the commonwealth is free to allow use of Pennsylvania’s pubic natural resources and to apply the income however it chooses. Only … Continue Reading

Avoiding the Talismanic Effect of Unfounded Expert Testimony

Daubert decisions can be case-dispositive in complex cases. Accordingly, understanding how to discern and dismantle the foundations of expert testimony is a crucial skill for defense attorneys.  Using lessons learned from a recent Eleventh Circuit toxic-tort case, Williams v. Mosaic Fertilizer LLC, Greenberg Traurig attorneys David B. Weinstein, Christopher Torres, and Ryan T. Hopper share … Continue Reading

Weathering the Storm: Mitigation of Environmental Risks Caused by Extreme Weather

Imagine that you are environmental, health, and safety (“EHS”) counsel or general counsel for a company dealing with a natural disaster. The company’s facilities are only partially functional, employees have lost their homes, and business unit functionality has been severely disrupted. You find yourself managing the myriad demands of the federal, state, and local environmental … Continue Reading

Is Biomass-Derived Electricity Coming Soon to a Town Near You?

Fifteen years ago, Pennsylvania adopted its alternative energy portfolio standard (AEPS), setting modest goals for investor-owned utilities and retail suppliers to include renewable power sources in their power supply mix. The goals are so modest—just 18% renewables by 2020 to 2021 (compared, for example, to neighboring Maryland’s goal of 25% by 2020 and New Jersey’s goal … Continue Reading

Green Roof Initiative: Compare the Green Roof Initiative with the new proposal

Brady R. McShane authored an article in the Colorado Real Estate Journal titled “Green Roof Initiative: Compare the Green Roof Initiative with the new proposal.” The article discusses Denver’s Green Roof Review Task Force and its proposed changes to the Initiative. Passed by voters in the November 2017 election, the Green Roof Initiative aimed to decrease building energy … Continue Reading

Potential New Tools to Sue for a Faster Cleanup

Soil or groundwater cleanups can take a long time. When one person conducts the cleanup and another has an interest in its completion, the two can disagree over the pace of the project. That is typically a three-party issue involving the regulator—for example, the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Environmental Protection. Resolving the … Continue Reading

Environmental Cases in the Pennsylvania Appellate Courts During 2017

The Pennsylvania appellate courts decided about two dozen cases that one could call “environmental” last year. A brief review follows that necessarily gives short shrift to some of these opinions. This review may also omit some cases, for which I apologize. Read Environmental Cases in the Pennsylvania Appellate Courts During 2017 by clicking here.… Continue Reading

Successive Owners and an Obligation to Restore a Stream

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court decided Becker v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 560 C.D. 2017 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Dec. 1, 2017), a case focused primarily on what constitutes a “watercourse” or “stream” under the Pennsylvania Dam Safety and Encroachments Act. However, the court also considered whether the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) … Continue Reading

WOTUS and its 2-Step Repeal

Paul M. Seby, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Environmental Practice, authored the article, “WOTUS Is Caught in a Whirlpool of Litigation—Is It Coming Back Around?” published in The National Law Journal. This article examines the future of the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule as the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers … Continue Reading
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