Environmental Law Portal

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Beveridge & Diamond’s 100 lawyers in seven U.S. offices focus on environmental and natural resource law, litigation and dispute resolution. We help clients around the world resolve critical environmental and sustainability issues relating to their products, facilities, and operations. 

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Mississippi Federal Court Denies Preliminary Injunction for Failure to Show Threat of Irreparable Harm

In a case demonstrating limits to injunctive relief, in the environmental context a Mississippi federal court denied a request for a temporary restraining order because the plaintiff did not show he would suffer irreparable harm when he relied on conclusory statements about the harm he faced, nor did he show that monetary damages could not make him sufficiently whole.  Miller v. Mississippi Resources , LLC, No. 5:17-cv-41-DCB-MTP (S.D. Miss. June 26, 2017).  Read More ›

Massachusetts Permitting Goes Online

Finally catching up with many states that have made it possible to apply for and review permits online, Massachusetts’ Energy and Environmental Information Public Access System (EIPAS) went online last month, promising to usher in a new era of improved accessibility to the permitting process, while still exhibiting growing pains and limitations.  Read More ›

EPA Region 1 Increasingly Targeting Ammonia Refrigeration Processes for RMP and General Duty Clause Enforcement

Over the course of 2017, U.S. EPA Region 1 has settled several significant enforcement matters arising under the risk management provisions of the Clean Air Act, Section 112(r).  The risk management requirements are intended to minimize accidental releases of hazardous substances to the air and to reduce the severity of releases that do occur. Read More ›

The Science and Controversy of Offshore Wind: BOEM Embarks on New Research Efforts While Fishing Groups Take Aim at An Offshore Wind Lease In New York

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is embarking on several studies to better understand offshore resources and species.  At the same time, fishing interests have sued BOEM to block an offshore wind lease, challenging not only the lease itself but the process that BOEM uses to award leases and conduct its environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).    Read More ›

Will Massachusetts Enact a Carbon Tax?

Massachusetts could be the first state in the U.S. to enact an economy-wide carbon tax.  In January 2017, two bills were proposed in the Massachusetts legislature that would establish a tax on fossil fuels in Massachusetts with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while returning most or all of the proceeds to consumers and businesses.  These bills have picked up some momentum, and with more than 80 legislators co-sponsoring the bills (about 40% of the Massachusetts legislature), there’s a real chance that a carbon tax could become law in Massachusetts. Read More ›

Superior Court Decision Raises the Bar For Municipalities Seeking to Challenge Special Permits And Other Zoning Actions Taken By Neighboring Municipalities

The Massachusetts Superior Court has ruled that a municipality lacks standing to challenge a special permit issued by a neighboring town when the alleged harm is “too speculative and remote to qualify them as ‘aggrieved parties’ with standing to pursue an appeal under M.G.L. c. 40A, § 17.”  The case, Town of Chelmsford et al. v. Newport Materials, LLC, et al. (Case No. 1681CV03455) was brought by Chelmsford to challenge a special permit issued by the Westford Planning Board to construct an asphalt manufacturing plant in Westford on the border of the two towns.  Chelmsford argued that because the towns had entered a “mutual aid agreement” under which Chelmsford firefighters could be called to fight a fire at the asphalt plant in Westford, it had standing to challenge the permit as a “person aggrieved” under M.G.L. c. 40A, §17.  In an opinion issued in early September, the Superior Court disagreed, ruling that Chelmsford lacked standing to pursue its claims. Read More ›

Zoning-Immune Government Building Retains Its Protected Status Upon Transfer to Private Party

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently clarified whether formerly zoning-immune government buildings continue to considered lawfully noncompliant with local zoning when that immunity is terminated. In Gund v. Planning Bd. of Cambridge , 91 Mass. App. Ct. 813 (2017), the Court held that a structure that loses its governmental immunity remains a preexisting nonconforming structure under M.G L. c. 40A, § 6 (or a mirrored municipal zoning ordinance) at the time it is conveyed to a private party. The Court rejected the contention that it must distinguish between a structure that is nonconforming because of subsequent stricter zoning ordinances and a structure that is nonconforming after loss of governmental immunity. Read More ›

Conservation Commission Retains Authority to Regulate under Stricter Local Law Despite MassDEP Superseding Order of Conditions

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently held that a Superseding Order of Conditions issued by the MassDEP under the Wetlands Protection Act (WPA) does not divest a municipal Conservation Commission from all authority to regulate activity on the land subject to the Superseding Order of Conditions.  Cave Corporation v. Conservation Commission of Attleboro , 91 Mass. App. Ct. 767 (2017).  Specifically, where a local Conservation Commission issues an Order of Conditions under the authority of a by-law or ordinance that is more stringent than the WPA, the terms of the Conservation Commission’s Order of Conditions remain enforceable even if the MassDEP subsequently issues, in relation to a different Notice of Intent, a Superseding Order of Conditions regulating work on the same land. Read More ›

Playground Permanently Dedicated and Used As a Public Park Earns Massachusetts Constitutional Protections of Article 97

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has reinterpreted the test for determining whether municipal parklands are protected by article 97 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution. This decision means that more properties will now be restricted from development under the state constitution. Article 97 has historically been interpreted to restrict development only where the property had been taken or acquired for conservation purposes, or specifically designated for article 97 purposes by deed or other recorded restriction. In Smith v. City of Westfield , SJC–12243, 2017 WL 4358679 (Mass. October 2, 2017), the Court expands article 97 protection beyond those circumstances to apply whenever there is a “clear and unequivocal intent to dedicate the land permanently as a public park and where the public accepts such use by actually using the land as a public park. Read More ›

Last Product Liability Claims Dismissed in Massachusetts PCB Suit

In a win for manufacturers of products containing PCBs, a Massachusetts federal court dismissed the last few PCB-related product liability claims in a sprawling case brought by a local school because injuries related to caulking made with PCB-containing plasticizers were not reasonably foreseeable when the caulk was first used.   See Town of Westport v. Monsanto Co . , No. 14-12041 (D. Mass. Apr. 7, 2017). Read More ›

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