Monthly Archives: May 2013

Which Comes First, Innovation or Regulation?

Two seemingly unrelated stories in Wednesday’s trade press got me thinking – always dangerous – about the relationship between regulation and innovation.  The first story, from Daily Environment Report, noted that House Republicans have introduced a bill which would preclude EPA from promulgating CO2 performance standards for either new or existing fossil fuel power plants until carbon capture and storage systems have been determined to be technologically and economically viable. … More

City of Arlington v. FCC: Did the Supreme Court Just Expand the Scope of Chevron Deference? No.

On Monday, in City of Arlington v. FCC, the Supreme Court made clear that agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes are entitled to deference even where they involve questions relating to the scope of an agency’s authority or jurisdiction.  Greenwire seems to think that this is a big deal and even speculated today that City of Arlington may have altered the decision in a case challenging EPA’s determination that it does not have authority under TSCA to regulate lead ammunition.… More

Do Liability Policies, Particularly Pollution Liability Insurance Policies, Exclude Coverage for All Injunctions? The Fifth Circuit Says No.

The Fifth Circuit handed down an important decision last week, Louisiana Generating LLC v. Illinois Union Insurance Company, clarifying the scope of coverage under a Premises Pollution Liability Insurance Policy.  The policyholder sought coverage for a Clean Air Act suit by the United States alleging unpermitted major modifications that resulted in increased emissions of  sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.  The insurer disputed coverage on the ground that the government under the Clean Air Act was seeking not remediation costs or compensatory damages but an injunction to repair emission control equipment to comply with regulatory standards.  … More

Why Trial Courts Are Reluctant To Exclude Scientific Evidence in Toxic Tort Cases

Environmental litigation, particularly toxic tort litigation, inevitably turns on scientific evidence about causation.  Beginning with the Supreme Court’s Daubert decision in 1993, trial courts have repeatedly been admonished to take seriously their role as gatekeepers who are required to keep from juries and other fact-finders “junk science” and other expert evidence that is not sufficiently reliable to be considered.

Although no one would disagree that one key responsibility of any judge is to protect against the admission of unreliable evidence,  … More

A Nice, Straightforward Administrative Law Decision: HHS’s Decision to List Styrene as Reasonably Anticipated to Cause Cancer is Affirmed

Last week, in Styrene Information and Research Center v. Sebelius, Judge Reggie Walton of the District Court for the District of Columbia rejected challenges to the decision by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to list styrene as “reasonably anticipated” to be a carcinogen.  The case does not really break any new ground, but is a solidly written summary of several recurring issues in administrative law relating to review of agency decisions.… More

Jarndyce v. Jarndyce Has Nothing On Comer v. Murphy Oil: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal

Readers of this blog will recall the bizarre history of Comer v. Murphy Oil.  In 2005, Plaintiffs brought tort claims against major GHG emitters, claiming that those emissions, by causing global warming, led to plaintiffs’ damages from Hurricane Katrina.  The District Court dismissed, ruling both that plaintiffs had no standing and that the claims were really non-justiciable political questions.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. … More

Superfund Liability for the Repair of a Useful Product

A few months ago, I blogged on the decision in Duke Energy Progress Inc. v. Alcan Aluminum Corporation where a court held that a company would not be held liable for selling used transformers to a recycling facility for refurbishing and eventual resale to a new user.   At the center of that holding was the notion that the transformers were not leaking PCB oils when delivered to the recycling center and could be refurbished in the exercise of due care without causing a release of  PCBs.… More

Boston Joins the Building Disclosure Bandwagon: Ordinance Will Require Reporting in 2014

On May 8, the Boston City Council approved an ordinance requiring building owners to report annual energy and water use.  The final ordinance is slightly different from the one about which we posted in February.  Highlights include the following:

  • Building owners subject to the ordinance will have to report on May 15 of each year:

The previous calendar year’s energy and water use of each building and other building characteristics necessary to evaluate absolute and relative energy use intensity.… More

Massachusetts Releases Its Revised Solid Waste Master Plan: Are We Really on a Pathway to Zero Waste?

On Tuesday, MassDEP announced release of its updated Solid Waste Master Plan, subtitled “Pathway to Zero Waste.”  The Plan’s most significant discussion relates to the state of the solid waste market and the Plan’s goal for disposal reduction.  The Plan announces a goal of reducing solid waste disposal by 30% from 2008 to 2020, from 6,550,000 tons to 4,550,000 tons.  However, the Plan acknowledges that,… More