December 19, 2017
Law360 ’s feature on " The Biggest Environmental Rulings Of 2017 " quoted Principal Jimmy Slaughter (Washington, DC) regarding this year’s most important environmental decisions. Of the six highlighted cases, Jimmy focused on a major D.C. Circuit decision limiting EPA’s RCRA rules and a Sixth Circuit decision allowing constitutional claims to proceed against Flint, Michigan officials.
In American Petroleum Institute v. EPA , 862 F.3d 50 (D.C. Cir. 2017), the D.C. Circuit invalidated two key elements of the regulatory definition of solid waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and rejected efforts to impose additional conditions on existing exclusions in the hazardous waste program. The definition of solid waste is a cornerstone of the RCRA hazardous waste regulatory program, as it specifies when recyclable materials may be classified as solid wastes and thus potentially hazardous wastes subject to the hazardous waste regulatory program promulgated by EPA under RCRA Subtitle C. Jimmy commented that "the court decision upends a significant part of the RCRA regulatory scheme, has broader implications for the hazardous waste program and beyond, and creates implementation issues at the federal and state level that will likely take years to sort out.” Beveridge & Diamond participated in oral argument in the case for industry parties and a prepared a fuller article about the decision.
In Boler v. Earley, 865 F.3d 391 (6 th Cir. 2017), the Sixth Circuit issued a major ruling on the scope of citizen suits and their relationship to constitutional claims. The Court of Appeals revived previously dismissed due process claims brought against Flint, Michigan and certain officials in the Flint water contamination cases, ruling that the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”) does not preempt § 1983 claims. Jimmy observed that “previously dismissed as preempted under the SDWA, the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims were found to be distinct from statutory rights, which might have been preempted by the SDWA.” A fuller discussion of the Boler decision is available in Beveridge & Diamond’s Toxic Tort Quarterly .
Read the full Law360 article here (subscription required).