David Mandelbaum

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Credits for Superfund Settlement Payments and What That Means for Settlement Strategy

When many parties are jointly and severally liable for the same contamination problem, not every one of those parties can pay more than its fair share of that joint liability in a settlement. Section 113(f)(2) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA” or “Superfund”) assures that the non-settling parties get the benefit … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Prospective Purchasers of Contaminated Property and Their Administrative Records

On April 26, 2019, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) voided two amendments to a prospective purchaser agreement (PPA) for the Bishop Tube Site entered into in 2007 and 2010. Del. Riverkeeper Network v. Dep’t of Envt’l Prot’n, EHB Dkt. No. 2018-020-L (Constitution Drive Partners). The underlying PPA was dated 2005. The Department of Environmental … Continue Reading

Can a State Provide Oversight Under a Federal CERCLA Order or Decree?

Section 400(h) of the National Contingency Plan (NCP) contains an unremarked, yet problematic, last sentence. The NCP, of course, governs response actions under the federal Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund); the government cannot recover costs incurred inconsistently with that regulation. 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a)(1-4)(A). Section 400(h) provides: (h) Oversight. The … Continue Reading

Limits on Administrative Orders to Clean Up in Delaware

On Feb. 21, 2019, the Delaware Superior Court decided that the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) cannot order an environmental violator to remedy its violation under the department’s general enforcement statute. That is, under that statute, DNREC can order a person illegally disposing of solid waste to stop adding to the … Continue Reading

Anticipating Environmental Issues in an Economic Downturn: 2019 Edition

On the morning of Dec. 25, the News Analysis on page A1 of the New York Times led off with this cheery holiday thought: “Sometime in the last couple of months, predictions of a major economic downturn or recession in 2019 went from being a crank view to the conventional wisdom.” At the front end of the … 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

Mass SJC Reiterates that Property Damage Liability under Mass. G.L. Chap 21E is Residual to Cleanup Liability

Section 5(a)(iii) of the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act (“Chapter 21E”) makes persons liable to clean up releases of oil or hazardous material also liable to any other person for property damage caused by the release. The Supreme Judicial Court decided a case on January 19 restating clearly that private … 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

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

How Will Pa. Implement the Environmental Rights Amendment?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s June decision in Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Wolf, 161 A.3d 911 (Pa. 2017) (PEDF), has sparked many conversations about how the newly interpreted Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution will be implemented. In my column this month for the Pennsylvania Law Weekly I hope to catalogue at least some … Continue Reading

Levitas v. Christian: Standards for Expert Opinions on Exposure Pathways in Maryland

Last week, the Maryland Court of Appeals (the highest state court) decided a lead paint toxic tort case of potential interest to environmental lawyers. Levitas v. Christian, No. 58 Sept. Term 2016 (Md. July 11, 2017), holds that a pediatrician may testify not only that the plaintiff’s injuries are the result of lead exposure, but … Continue Reading

Air Source Aggregation: Compression Station and Natural Gas Wells are Not A Single Source in Pennsylvania Merely Because they are Owned by Corporate Affiliates

On Friday, June 2, a Pennsylvania intermediate appellate court held that air emissions from a natural gas gathering system compression station and a natural gas well pad served by that gathering system could not be aggregated for purposes of air emissions permitting because they were owned by different corporations, albeit corporate affiliates.  National Fuel Gas … 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

Annual Review of Environmental Cases from the Pennsylvania Courts

In January, my monthly column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly reviewed the treatment of environmental issues by the Pennsylvania appellate courts in the previous year.  Read the very-cleverly-titled Environmental Cases in the Pennsylvania Courts During 2015, 39 Pa. L. Weekly 56 (Jan. 19, 2016), by clicking here. The cases addressed follow: Berner v. Montour Twp., 120 A.3d 433 (Pa. … Continue Reading

When Will the Paris Agreement Affect Day-to-Day US Environmental Practice?

On December 12, most nations of the world entered into an agreement on mitigation of and adaption to climate change.  When, one may ask, will that agreement affect what regulated entities in the United States and their lawyers do? We have posted a description of the Paris meeting, describing our colleague Jim Bacchus‘ role.  My … Continue Reading

Environmental Commitments, Termination Clauses, and Waiting for the End of Time

My November environmental practice column for the Pennsylvania Law Weekly considered the problem of terminating an environmental obligation when conditions change after a time.  In the pursuit of “paradise by the dashboard light,” as Meatloaf taught, if I promise to love you until the end of time, I might end up “praying for the end of time … Continue Reading

Further Thoughts on Valuing Contaminated Property

Some time ago, I offered some observations about how to value the diminution in property value caused by contamination.  I examined in particular the case of a property where someone other than the landowner had the obligation to clean up.  All of this was motivated by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’ decision in Harley-Davidson’s long-running property tax appeal. … Continue Reading

When an Agency Changes its Mind: Lessons from Village of Kake

When administrations change, so does policy.  That may result in an agency changing its mind.  On the federal level, that change — particularly a change in a factual finding — will be subject to review under the Administrative Procedure Act. The Ninth Circuit recently considered such a change in position over whether the Tongass National … Continue Reading

Horne and Environmental Law: The case of the taken raisins

Horne v. Department of Agriculture, No. 14-275 (U.S. June 22, 2015), is a takings case about the price support program for California raisins.  That may seem a little far afield for environmental lawyers, but the case bears some careful analysis.  Among other things, the Court draws a distinction between the analysis appropriate for a regulatory … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Dismisses Challenges to Proposed Clean Air Act Section 111(d) Rule

From Michael Cooke of GT Tampa The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has denied petitions to review the EPA’s proposed rule to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing electric generating sources.  See In re Murray Energy Corporation, No. 14-1112 (D.C. Cir. June 9, 2015).    The proposed the rule was issued under section 111(d) … Continue Reading
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