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Litigation

TRUSTEE URGES COURT TO REJECT INTERVENTION IN NOVEL NRD CHALLENGE

The natural resource damage (NRD) trustee for the Virgin Islands is urging a federal court to reject a local resident's efforts to challenge the U.S. territory's plans for spending funds from an NRD settlement, arguing the resident lacks standing, according to recent court filings.

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APPEALS RULING MAY BLOCK FUTURE ENVIRONMENTAL FALSE CLAIMS SUITS

A recent precedent-setting federal appellate ruling may block future lawsuits over potential environmental violations brought under a controversial whistleblower law known as the False Claims Act (FCA), according to a legal observer.

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JUSTICES QUESTION CONTRIBUTION RIGHTS IN KEY SUPERFUND CASE

Several key U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical of state and industry claims during Oct. 6 oral arguments in a closely watched cleanup case that federal Superfund law allows companies to sue other parties for cleanup costs in the absence of an EPA or state enforcement order or other "civil action."

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EPA Seeks State Talks To Preserve Rights On Sewer Overflow Agreements

OKLAHOMA CITY --- EPA has asked states to join a working group that would consider whether states should file combined sewer overflow (CSO) consent decrees in federal court, rather than state court, in order to preserve the agency's ability to overfile if state enforcement is inadequate, EPA enforcement chief Tom Skinner said at a meeting here.

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ACTIVISTS WIN UNUSUAL MOTION TO POSTPONE WISCONSIN NSR SETTLEMENT

Environmentalists have convinced a Wisconsin district court to delay the approval of a consent decree between EPA and the utility We Energies in a highly unusual move that raises fresh questions about one of the few new source review (NSR) settlements proposed between a utility and the Bush administration in the midst of EPA NSR reforms.

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UTILITIES DELAY ACTION ON NSR PACTS PENDING FINAL TRANSPORT RULE

Some power companies are reluctant to pursue settlements with EPA over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act's new source review (NSR) program until the EPA finalizes its regulation to curb transported air pollution, sources say.

These utilities may be delaying action on the settlements at least in part because they are concerned that the pacts would create market disadvantages if their competitors were not subject to pollution-reduction requirements under the clean air interstate rule (CAIR) should it be delayed, sources following the discussions says.

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WISCONSIN ACTIVISTS SEEK TOUGHEST-EVER BACT LIMITS FOR NEW COAL PLANT

Environmentalists in Wisconsin are pressing the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to require a proposed 500-megawatt, coal-fired power plant to meet clean air standards for nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) far lower than have ever been permitted before.

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CALIFORNIA MEXICAN TRUCK LAW MAY FACE ENFORCEMENT DIFFICULTIES

A new California law aimed at limiting increased air pollution from Mexican trucks may be difficult to enforce and also subject to legal challenge, sources say.

Sources tracking the issue say the law appears to contain enforcement shortcomings that could severely limit the state's ability to mitigate even a fraction of the expected increase in pollution. And these sources say the law may be ripe for a challenge by U.S. parties under the Clean Air Act and federal commerce law, or a lawsuit by Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

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Key Senators, Environmentalists Attack Exemption In EPA Air Toxic Rules

Environmentalists and two prominent senators are challenging the Bush administration's landmark air toxics rules for plywood producers and industrial boilers, fearing they set a dangerous precedent for excluding facilities from Clean Air Act requirements by downplaying the risks posed by ambient pollutants and emission sources "co-located" at a facility.

These critics warn if the rules stand, industries could petition EPA to apply the agency's new risk-based methodology to existing rules and overhaul the agency's air toxics program.

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EPA Fights Competing Lawsuits On Stormwater Discharge Permit

EPA is rejecting competing legal challenges by industry and environmentalists against its stormwater general permit for construction sites, arguing that the agency has discretion under existing legal precedents to develop strict, yet flexible, requirements to accommodate a broad range of sites, according to a recent EPA response brief.

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