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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

Federal Environmental Deregulation and Pennsylvania Operations

On Oct. 16, the Environmental Protection Agency published its proposal to repeal the carbon pollution emission guidelines for existing electric power plants, the centerpiece of the Clean Power Plan, 82 Fed. Reg. 48,035. That action serves as a reminder that the current national administration takes seriously its promise to deregulate business under the environmental laws. … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company v. Johnson Matthey, Inc.: Multiple Trigger Doctrine and Impacts to Superfund Litigation

The Commonwealth Court recently held that certain Comprehensive General Liability (“CGL”) “occurrence” insurance policies issued before the institution of a blanket pollution exclusion cover latent environmental contamination that occurred during the policy period, even when such contamination does not manifest until after the policy period expires. This holding identified latent environmental contamination as falling within … Continue Reading

Overview of Coal Ash Disposal, Regulation and Beneficial Use

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the largest generator of coal ash in the United States. Pennsylvania is home to roughly 100 coal ash disposal facilities, three of which have been classified as “high hazard” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Throughout the country, numerous electric generating facilities … Continue Reading

Environmental Cases in the Pa. Appellate Courts During 2016

This month, my column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly surveys the decisions in the Pennsylvania appellate courts during 2016 addressing environmental issues.  The cases cover the Environmental Rights Amendment, impacts of oil and gas drilling, stormwater, land contamination, air pollution, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, solid waste management, and enforcement procedure.  Read Environmental Cases … Continue Reading

EPA’s Amendments to the Standards for Hazardous Waste Generators

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its amendments to, and reorganization of, the regulations governing generators of hazardous waste, 81 Fed. Reg. 85,732 (Nov. 28). These rules govern the hundreds of thousands of enterprises nationally that produce wastes characterized or listed as hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. … Continue Reading

Buckle Up for a Wild Ride: Environmental Policy in the Trump Administration

Millions of Americans are coming to grips with the broad social and political ramifications of Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory in last Tuesday’s presidential election. And while the president-elect’s policy pronouncements to date have been short on detail, one thing is clear: those concerned with environmental protection and climate change had better buckle up for … Continue Reading

Philadelphia’s Approach to Nuisance Abatement on Vacant Properties

Conventional environmental lawyers may find themselves in unfamiliar territory when faced with a municipal citation for allowing a vacant property to become a nuisance or a municipal claim to recover the costs of abating that nuisance.  In Philadelphia, the City has a regular program to do both.  That program proceeds under City ordinances and regulations, … Continue Reading

The Certainties and Uncertainties of EPA’s Civil Penalties Increases

Recent legislation and an even more recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rulemaking will cause civil monetary penalties for violations of federal environmental laws to increase significantly, beginning Aug. 1; subsequently, penalties will increase annually to track inflation. President Obama signed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 on Nov. 2, … Continue Reading
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