Category Archives: State & Local

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New York State Legislature Passes Renewable Energy Siting Law In Step Toward Meeting Ambitious Renewable Energy Mandates

With New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pronouncing the state’s process for siting renewable energy projects broken, the New York State legislature late yesterday passed sweeping reforms to the siting of large renewable energy projects proposed by the Governor, setting a firm one-year deadline for final siting decisions, as well as committing to study and plan … Continue Reading

New York Environmental Regulator Issues Guidance on Essential Construction in Support of Cleanup Activities

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently released guidance on what constitutes “essential” construction in support of remedial activities pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 202.6 signed by Gov. Cuomo on March 18. EO 202.6 was tightened to limit non-essential construction activities in EO 202.13, issued March 29. Empire State Development (ESD) has … 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

New York’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act Sends Positive Signals to Renewable Energy Developers, and Revamps Renewable Siting

In January 2020, in his annual budget address, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a complete overhaul of renewable energy siting. In his 30-day amendments to the executive budget, he proposed the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act (the “Act”). The proposal would apply to large and mid-sized renewable projects, energy storage, … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Clarifies Application of Fair Share Act to Strict Liability Asbestos Claims

In 2011, The Fair Share Act, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 7402, became law. The Fair Share Act changed the law of joint and several liability for actions sounding in negligence, eliminating joint and several liability except under certain exceptions. Under the Act, “a defendant’s liability shall be several and not joint, and the court shall enter a separate … 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

New York’s ‘Toxic Toys’ Law: Governor Signs Legislation Regulating Chemicals in Children’s Products, But Changes to the Law Are Already Coming

On Feb. 7, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation regulating the presence of toxic chemicals in children’s products and apparel. The governor agreed to the legislation – the last of the bills from the 2019 legislative session to be signed – on the condition that the bills be amended in the current 2020 … Continue Reading

Rule of Capture is Back for Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Wells . . . Sort Of

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision that appeared to make the “rule of capture” inapplicable to oil and gas wells subjected to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Briggs v. Sw. Energy Production Co., No. 63 MAP 2018 (Pa. Jan. 22, 2020) (see majority opinion; see concurring and dissenting opinion). However, the … Continue Reading

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Proposes Radical Reshaping of Siting Process for Renewable Projects

In his annual budget address on Jan. 21, 2020, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a complete overhaul to New York’s siting of renewable energy projects. Noting that siting a project under the current Article 10 process takes 5-10 years to begin construction, the governor found that the current process simply does not work. … 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

New York Governor Proposes $3 Billion Bond for Environmental Measures

In his 2020 State of the State speech, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo led with a proposal to issue a $3 Billion ‘Restore Mother Nature Environmental’ Bond Act. The administration is calling it the nation’s most aggressive habitat restoration and flood reduction program. Additionally, the program appears to contemplate funding beyond the $3 billion, noting … 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

In Minnesota, More Little Red Corvettes May Soon be Electric

On Sept. 25, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz asked the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to initiate the process to establish a Clean Cars Minnesota Rule, which would set both a low-emission vehicle (LEV) standard and a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard. Next month, the MPCA will begin its rulemaking process, with a goal of adopting a … 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

Maryland Court of Appeals Limits Bases for Challenging CWA Permits under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

A recent state appellate court decision sharply limited the bases on which Clean Water Act permittees may challenge permitting requirements imposed to comply with a federal Chesapeake Bay “Total Maximum Daily Load” (“TMDL”), often described as a watershed-wide “pollution diet.” The decision directly impacts municipalities with separate stormwater sewer (“MS4”) permits, as well as certain … Continue Reading

EPA Seeks Public Comment on Pesticide Applications for Hemp

The legalization of industrial hemp production in the 2018 Farm Bill is a likely boon for farmers grappling with the changing agricultural landscape. Given the strong economic forecasts for hemp production, pesticide registrants are intensifying their interest in gaining approvals for use of their products on hemp. Hemp farmers are also pressing for expanded crop … 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

A Building-Emissions Overhaul: How NYC’s LL97 Impacts Owners and Prospective Buyers Moving Forward

New York City recently enacted the most ambitious large-scale greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan in the country, requiring a 40 percent drop in GHG emissions by 2030 and an 80 percent drop by 2050. The package of bills, entitled the Climate Mobilization Act (or CMA), includes an overhaul of building emissions requirements affecting around 50,000 … 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

California Adopts Emergency Regulation to Protect Outdoor Workers From Wildfire Smoke

We Didn’t Start the Fire . . . . But Your Employees Might Breathe the Smoke Last year was the most destructive fire season in California’s history. Over 7,600 wildfires burned nearly two million acres. As a result, on July 18, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Occupational Safety Health Standards Board adopted an emergency … 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

FDA Findings on PFAS Chemicals in U.S. Food and Drinking Water Supply

This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed it had conducted a study finding that certain types of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have entered American food and drinking water supplies; however, “[c]urrent FDA testing has found that most foods have no or very low levels of PFAS.” The FDA’s efforts are ongoing … Continue Reading
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