Archives: Environmental

Subscribe to Environmental RSS Feed

EPA and States Issue Temporary Policies: Air and Water Permit Compliance During COVID-19

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, federal and state environmental agencies have issued temporary policies that affect regulated entities. This blog post is intended to help summarize these guidelines and highlights pertinent questions. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a public memorandum setting forth a “temporary policy” of … Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Push for New Rules Restricting Emissions From Indirect Sources

Environmental activist groups recently petitioned the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (the “EQC”) to enact far-reaching rules that would regulate air emissions from so-called indirect sources in cities and metropolitan districts with populations of 50,000 or more. The petition identifies an indirect source as any facility, building, structure, or installation that attracts mobile sources (vehicles), and … Continue Reading

Oregon Signs Statement of Intent to Accelerate Transition to Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Along with seven other states and the District of Columbia, Oregon signed a Statement of Intent to develop a multi-state memorandum of understanding to support and accelerate the deployment of medium- and heavy-duty ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles) for consideration by the states’ governors and the mayor of the District of Columbia in summer 2020. The primary … Continue Reading

Proposition 65—Under Construction

California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, otherwise known as Proposition 65, continues to be amended to address errors and omissions in the original regulations. Proposition 65 applies to all businesses in the chain of commerce in California and requires all businesses to provide a “clear and reasonable” warning before knowingly and … Continue Reading

How Should Businesses Respond to a Notice of Intent Letter?

This article was originally published in the Vancouver Business Journal. When businesses open a letter from Northwest Riverwatcher (a fictional environmental group) with the subject line “Notice of Intent to Sue Under the Clean Water Act,” the tendency, particularly among smaller businesses, is to ignore it and hope Riverwatcher goes away. There may be a … Continue Reading

Buzz Kill: Coffee Companies Roasted by Court Over Warning Labels

Chances are that if you live in or have visited California, you have seen conspicuously placed “WARNING” signs notifying you that a product you are consuming or a location you are entering “contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Now, following a March 30, … Continue Reading

NWP: Insurance Coverage Can Help Businesses Impacted by Wildfires or Hurricanes

This post originally appeared on The Northwest Policyholder, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s insurance recovery blog. Many Northwest businesses are being impacted by the wildfires close to home, and also by the hurricanes that have or will hit Texas, Florida and other Gulf states. Can commercial insurance help to mitigate losses from these natural disasters? … Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Seek to Kill “Zombie Permits”

Environmental groups recently sued the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) over its alleged failure to renew permits in a timely manner. Most permits issued by DEQ under the Clean Water Act have an initial term of five years. According to the complaint, at least 75 percent of all such permits in Oregon have exceeded … Continue Reading

BEWARE—The Pollution Exclusion Is Alive in Oregon

This article was originally posted on The Northwest Policyholder, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s insurance coverage blog. Contractors, builders, real estate managers, and others should be aware of a March 9, 2017, decision by an Oregon federal judge who found that carbon monoxide is included in the plain meaning of “pollutant” as defined in a … Continue Reading

Washington Supreme Court Strikes a Blow to Vested Rights

In a blog post dated February 17, 2016, we wrote about a decision of the Washington Court of Appeals in Snohomish County v. Pollution Control Hearings Board favorable to developers. At issue in the case was the Washington State Department of Ecology’s rule that required application of new stormwater regulations to all development proposals submitted … Continue Reading

Washington State Sets Carbon Dioxide Emission Reduction Requirements for Major Sources

Today the Washington State Department of Ecology adopted a new rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from major sources. Beginning in 2017, entities that emit more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year must reduce their emissions by 1.7 percent each year. Entities with lower emissions will be phased in over two decades. … Continue Reading

Smelter Not Liable Under CERCLA as an Arranger for Disposal

A Ninth Circuit panel reversed a district court’s denial of a smelter owner’s motion to dismiss, holding that the owner/operator of a facility that emits airborne hazardous substances cannot be held liable as an arranger for disposal under CERCLA. The case involves a smelter owned and operated by Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., and located about ten … Continue Reading

Lead in Drinking Water: What Schools Need to Know

There’s no doubt that some attention has been given to the water quality at Oregon schools in the past month. But the issue has been around for some time. Since the late 1980s, concerns have been raised about lead leaching from pipes and faucets into water in schools. Yet no state or federal law requires … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Provides Pathway to Courts’ Challenging Army Corps’ Wetlands Calls

Access to courts to resolve disputes early on in a permitting process is critical for land use projects in terms of time- and cost-savings. In Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes, issued on May 31, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively agreed by ruling that a permit applicant need not await the completion of the … Continue Reading

BiOp on the Oregon National Flood Insurance Program: A Case for Levee Accreditation

If there was ever a case to be made for levee accreditation in Oregon, it would be the biological opinion (“BiOp”) that the National Marine Fisheries Services (“NMFS”) issued in April 2016. The BiOp seeks to protect and conserve certain salmon and steelhead species, and their critical habitats, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act and … Continue Reading

Plan Now So That Excess Water Isn’t Trouble Later

Water is a frequent topic of conversation these days, with valid concern over the growing scarcity of this resource. In the past few years, however, concerns about too much water have also arisen. From Hurricane Katrina to Superstorm Sandy to our own frightful storm during Halloween last year, unprecedented flooding is emerging as another water-related … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Puts Clean Power Plan on Hold

Recently the Supreme Court, for the first time, halted the implementation of an EPA rule before review by the Court of Appeals. As reported on this blog, in August the EPA adopted rules under the Clean Air Act to ensure that by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants would be 32 percent below … Continue Reading

Heading Into Muddied Waters

August 28, 2015, was the effective date of a new regulation that many argue expands permitting requirements for project development and other activities near or in waterbodies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) rewrote the definition of “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) under the federal Clean Water Act … Continue Reading

EPA Adopts Clean Power Plan

Earlier this week, the EPA adopted rules under the Clean Air Act intended to ensure that by 2030, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants will be 32 percent below 2005 levels. The rule establishes emission performance rates for fossil-fuel-fired electric steam-generating units and natural-gas-fired combined-cycle generating units and sets state-specific CO2 goals based on the … Continue Reading

Citizens Continue to Focus on the Columbia Slough Watershed

The Columbia Slough Watershed is a place in which environmental citizen groups continue to find violations of the Clean Water Act (the “CWA”). The filing of two recent cases in the federal district court for the District of Oregon by the Columbia Riverkeeper exemplifies these efforts. See Columbia Riverkeeper v. American Recyclers LLC, No. 3:14 cv … Continue Reading

Court Allows Claims of Atmosphere as a Public Trust Resource: Demands for Greenhouse Gas Regulation

Does Oregon’s public trust doctrine extend to the atmosphere? In Chernaik v. Kitzhaber, the Oregon Court of Appeals directed a Lane County circuit court to decide that question. The circuit court had concluded that it did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to make that determination or to direct the state to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as … Continue Reading