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Litigation

RULING PROMPTS LOBBYING FOR LIMITING WATER ACT CITIZEN SUIT PROVISIONS

Wastewater and municipal groups are asking Congress to narrow the conditions for filing citizen suits under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to stem the potential widespread impact of a landmark California ruling that requires facilities to obtain clean water permits for discharges to water bodies with only groundwater connections to navigable waters, sources say.

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California Officials Seek Water Act Revisions To Limit Impact Of Court Ruling

Sewer officials in California are asking Congress to revise the Clean Water Act to narrow the impact of a landmark court ruling in the state that facilities must obtain permits for discharges that indirectly affect navigable water bodies, sources say.

The ruling could significantly expand the number of wastewater treatment facilities that need to obtain discharge permits, which to date have been limited to facilities that release directly to navigable water bodies.

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APPEALS BOARD URGES EXPANDED EPA ACCESS TO DATA FOR SETTING FINES

A recent decision by EPA's Environmental Appeals Board on wetlands penalties may expand the agency's ability to gather information about a defendant's finances when the party claims an inability to pay a fine, according to an attorney familiar with the case.

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HOUSE-BACKED BILL FRAMES DEBATE FOR LIMITING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWSUITS

The House has approved legislation that would establish mandatory penalties for lawyers, including a year suspension from practicing law, who file claims that are later found to be "frivolous," which supporters of the bill say should have a chilling effect on the number of environmental lawsuits. While passage by the Senate this year is unlikely, supporters say the House vote, which was largely along party lines, was intended to frame the debate for the next Congress. Supporters say the legislation could be a top priority for Republicans if they win big in the November elections.

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DUPONT FINE BY EPA MAY DISCOURAGE FUTURE INDUSTRY DATA AGREEMENTS

EPA's decision to seek a potentially record-setting fine against DuPont for allegedly failing to report adverse health effects related to the chemical C-8 will make other chemical companies less willing to enter into future agreements with the agency on toxicity reporting, industry attorneys and legal observers say.

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APPELLATE RULING MAY LIMIT GROUPS' ACCESS TO COURTS, EXPERTS SAY

A recent appellate ruling dismissing an environmental group's attempt to stop a Forest Service timber sale on the grounds that a different environmental group had already sought to litigate the issue sets a disturbing precedent that could block industry and environmental groups' access to courts, legal experts and some environmentalists warn.

These sources say the ruling may set a precedent by expanding a legal doctrine -- known as privity -- that is used to determine when parties in litigation share similar interests that may bar them from pursuing separate litigation.

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6TH CIRCUIT DECLINES TO BROADEN LANDMARK AIR RULING TO SUPERFUND

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to expand to the Superfund law the application of a landmark decision in which the 11th Circuit invalidated on constitutional due process grounds administrative penalties EPA levied under the Clean Air Act.

In Gurley v. United States, the 6th Circuit ruled that the 11th Circuit's landmark decision in Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) v. Whitman did not apply to Superfund law provisions allowing EPA to collect penalties when a defendant fails to respond to agency information requests.

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REVIEW SOUGHT FOR RULING ON RECOVERY FOR ESTIMATED CLEANUP COSTS

A waste transportation company is urging a federal appeals court to review its earlier precedent-setting ruling that allowed two chemical companies to seek Superfund cleanup contribution costs based on the estimated costs of a remedy that has yet to be completed.

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CASE MAY ALLOW DOJ TO TARGET LIMITS ON OVERSIGHT COST RECOVERY

A recent federal district court decision may present an opportunity for the federal government to challenge a long-standing legal precedent that prevents recovery of Superfund oversight costs, industry attorneys say.

The ruling also sets a precedent that limits the government's ability to recover attorneys' fees, according to the ruling.

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HIGH COURT COULD SETTLE SPLIT ON U.S. PREEMPTION OF STATE PESTICIDE LAWS

A case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether federal pesticide law prevents farmers from suing manufacturers under state statutes for crop damages resulting from improper pesticide labeling could resolve a lower court split on whether the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) trumps state pesticide labeling laws.

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