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On May 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a group of Mississippi Gulf Coast residents and property owners against energy companies whose emissions they alleged contributed to global warming, which intensified Hurricane Katrina, which, in turn, damaged their property. The Fifth Circuit held that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata, which bars the re-litigation of a claim that has been decided on the merits in a prior action.
A group of Texas and Louisiana environmental groups have filed a citizens suit in the D.C. Circuit of Appeals to demand that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") review emissions factors used to estimate emissions of volatile organic compounds and certain toxic air pollutants from flares, tanks and wastewater treatment systems. The group alleges that EPA has failed to review AP-42 (Compilation of Air Pollutant Emissions Factors Volume I: Stationary Point and Air Sources) since 1991, and has not reviewed the EPA Locating and Estimating Air Toxics Emissions Series since at least 2006.
On May 22, 2013, the TCEQ commissioners approved adoption of rules to implement Federal Clean Air Act provisions regarding the imposition of a penalty fee for major stationary sources of volatile organic compounds ("VOC") located in an area that fails to attain the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard ("NAAQS") by the applicable attainment date. The rule will apply to the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria ("HGB") area because it was classified as severe for the revoked one-hour ozone NAAQS and did not achieve the standard by its November 15, 2007 attainment date.
TCEQ announcements for enforcement orders adopted in May can be found on TCEQ’s website .
For information on recent TCEQ rule developments, please see TCEQ's website .
In a major breakthrough, bipartisan and broadly supported legislation to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been introduced in the Senate. The Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), S. 1009, was announced on May 22, 2013 by its chief Democratic and Republican sponsors, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA). This client alert provides the political context for this remarkable development, and then explains the key provisions of the bill. It concludes with comments on the prospects for passage.
In a major development for the agricultural biotechnology industry, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the decision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to deregulate Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready Alfalfa (RR Alfalfa). See Center for Food Safety v. Vilsack, No. 12-15052 (9th Cir. May 17, 2013) . The Court rejected all of plaintiffs’ claims and affirmed in all respects the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. (Click here for a copy of the earlier decision and our summary of it.)
Recent developments in the courts, Congress and in jurisdictions outside the U.S. suggest that the obligations of companies to disclose their use of "conflict minerals" will evolve further in the months and years ahead.
On May 1, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule amendment moving up the deadline for petroleum and natural gas systems to submit their requests to use alternative monitoring methods to comply with the federal Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, 40 C.F.R. Part 98.
EPA recently issued two draft guidance documents on vapor intrusion and will accept comments on them through May 24, 2013. If finalized in current form, these guidance documents would formalize and enhance EPA’s existing practice of prioritizing vapor intrusion as a central issue in environmental remediation and could result in increases in the expense and effort required from responsible parties to achieve compliance for cleanup of contaminated sites conducted under federal authorities such as CERCLA or RCRA. They could also be highly influential in clean-ups overseen by state regulators. Lastly, while intended for use in the regulatory context, recommendations in these guidance documents may be used to establish a standard of care in litigation involving vapor intrusion (e.g., RCRA citizen suits or common law toxic tort litigation).
The Chambers USA Guide to the Legal Profession has again ranked Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. as a leading environmental law practice, both nationally and regionally. In addition to firm-level rankings, individual lawyers from the Firm’s regional offices are ranked.
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. was honored this week for its contributions to the second annual
D.C. Access to Justice Commission’s "Raising the Bar in D.C." fundraising campaign , receiving a "Silver" designation for contributing at least 0.075 percent of annual DC office revenue. The overall campaign raised $3.6 million to help fund the provision of legal services for indigent residents of the District of Columbia.
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. is pleased to announce that 10 shareholders and 2 associates/of counsel have been selected for inclusion in the Maryland and Washington, DC Super Lawyers/Rising Stars Edition 2013 as being among the top lawyers in their locations and areas of practice. Lawyers from Beveridge & Diamond’s California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas offices selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers will be announced later in 2013 when those lists are published.
The purpose of this update is to provide current information on Texas environmental regulatory developments. It is not intended as, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. You should consult with legal counsel for advice specific to your circumstances. This communication may be considered advertising under applicable laws regarding electronic communications.
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