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Litigation

RESIDENTS' DIOXIN TORT LAWSUIT MAY PROMPT EPA-MONITORED CLEANUP

A lawsuit alleging widespread dioxin contamination near a closed Pharmacia Corp. chemical plant raises the prospect of a massive cleanup that could prompt EPA oversight even though the agency has no legal obligation to act, according to agency officials and sources involved in the suit. The case could demonstrate whether a class action lawsuit can force a federal cleanup response.

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APPEALS COURT BACKS EPA APPLICATION OF SUPERFUND LISTING PROCESS

A key federal appeals court has upheld EPA's application of the process used to determine whether hazardous waste sites should be placed on Superfund's National Priorities List (NPL), agreeing that agency regulations require it to consider the exposure pathway that poses the greatest risk to human health and the environment, even if that pathway is not present at the site.

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INDUSTRY FEARS SWEEPING IMPACT FROM TRANSBOUNDARY POLLUTION SUIT

U.S. industry groups are urging a federal appeals court to overturn a recent district court ruling that found federal Superfund law can apply to transboundary contamination, saying the decision could prompt widespread retaliation against U.S. companies by a host of foreign governments over air and water pollution that crosses international borders.

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HIGH COURT RULING RAISES SENTENCING DOUBTS IN ENVIRONMENT CRIMES SUITS

Recent Supreme Court rulings overturning mandatory federal sentencing guidelines are raising significant uncertainty over how, or whether, the Justice Department (DOJ) will seek strict sentences for criminal violations of environmental laws, DOJ and defense attorneys say.

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RULING COULD PROMPT SUIT TO FORCE EPA WATER PERMITS FOR PESTICIDE USE

A recent federal district court ruling could prompt a new round of litigation seeking to force EPA to issue clean water permits for pesticide use, because a pending agency guidance will likely say such permits are not required, attorneys following the issue say.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Jan. 4 ruled a mosquito abatement district in Gem County, ID, could not challenge EPA's interim guidance that says pesticide applications do not require clean water permits. But sources say the ruling is likely to spark similar litigation in the future.

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SETTLEMENT DELAYS, MAY END, MILESTONE SUIT OVER INVASIVE SPECIES TMDLs

Environmentalists and EPA have reached a deal that will delay, and possibly call off, landmark litigation over whether aquatic invasive species constitute pollutants under the Clean Water Act (CWA) -- and whether EPA and states must set total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for waters impaired by invasive species.

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POTWs SEEK SANITARY SEWER POLICY TO CURTAIL COSTLY EPA ENFORCEMENT SUITS

Wastewater treatment officials have sent a sewer overflow action plan to EPA that urges the agency to develop a national sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) policy, arguing that the agency's current enforcement policies requiring zero discharges have publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) spending large amounts of money with little return.

The call for a national policy comes in the wake of failed Clinton administration efforts to promulgate a regulation governing SSOs.

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High Court Rulings Raise Doubts Over Environmental Crimes Sentencing

Recent Supreme Court rulings overturning mandatory federal sentencing guidelines are raising questions about how or whether the Justice Department (DOJ) will seek strict criminal penalties for environmental violations, DOJ and defense attorneys say.

Specifically, attorneys tracking the issue say it is unclear whether prosecutors will continue to incorporate aggravating factors -- which can lead to increased, or enhanced, sentences -- into indictments in environmental cases or whether the ruling will prompt a new prosecution approach to winning strict sentences.

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EPA Looks To Integrate Environmental Justice Concerns In Enforcement Actions

EPA has established an internal panel to recommend how the agency should begin integrating environmental justice (EJ) concerns into the agency's enforcement efforts, following criticism that the agency has failed to adequately crack down on industrial pollution affecting minority communities.

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HIGH COURT RULING RAISES SENTENCING DOUBTS IN ENVIRONMENT CRIMES SUITS

Recent Supreme Court rulings overturning mandatory federal sentencing guidelines are raising significant uncertainty over how, or whether, the Justice Department (DOJ) will seek strict sentences for criminal violations of environmental laws, DOJ and defense attorneys say.

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