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HREC in a Phase l is Not a Recognized Environmental Condition

Among the most misunderstood term in a Phase I environmental site assessment is the Historical Recognized Environmental Condition. The environmental professionals who perform these assessments by and large do not take heed of Eduardo Galeano’s quote, “History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘see you later.’” By way of background, a Phase I environmental site … Continue Reading

New Green Building Tax Credit is a Progressive Effort

At a time when the building industry is principally concerned with the impact of COVID-19 and the luster is off green building, the Montgomery County Council last Tuesday unanimously approved legislation “to accelerate the construction of highly energy efficient buildings and green retrofitting of existing buildings.” Bill 10-20 dramatically upgrades the Maryland county’s existing green … Continue Reading

Maryland becomes First State to Ban Polystyrene this Thursday

During the 2019 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly enacted what will be the first statewide ban of expanded polystyrene foam. In the Spring of 2019 law makers did not foresee a pandemic that would shift restaurant dining (not to mention school meals and much more) to carry out in transportable food containers, but today … Continue Reading

I Just Read my 1000th Phase I Environmental Site Assessment this Year

For those concerned about the state of the environmental industrial complex during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, I can report that last Friday I reviewed my 1,000th Phase I Environmental Site Assessment this year. In context, last year I did not hit that 1,000 mark until late September, and while it is an unscientific indicator, … Continue Reading

2018 IgCC Poised to be Adopted for the First Time

Montgomery County, Maryland is on the cusp of being the first to adopt the 2018 International Green Construction Code. The proposed Executive Regulation 12-20 appeared in the Montgomery County Register on August 1. A public hearing will be held on proposed regulation on September 3. And written comments may be submitted until October 5. Montgomery … Continue Reading

EPA Proposes First Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits for Aircraft

Last Wednesday the Environmental Protection Agency proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards for airplanes used in commercial aviation and large business jets. “This standard is the first time the U.S. has ever proposed regulating greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft,” according to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. And as much as I have railed against more and regressive environmental … Continue Reading

COVID-19 and the Risk from Recirculated Air in Buildings

The Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) has in recent days issued guidance on how to occupy commercial and public buildings, from offices to schools, “in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.” As Americans begin to end coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdowns, which were of course intended to keep … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Permits State Law Claims Against Superfund Property

In an instructive environmental law decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal Superfund statute (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) does not preclude owners of adjacent contaminated land from pursuing state laws claims for money damages for nuisance, trespass and strict liability, but any cleanup of that land cannot … Continue Reading

Maryland is First State to Legislate Permitted Use of PFAS

Prior to the just concluded session of the Maryland legislature, the State’s laws and regulations were silent with regard to PFAS chemicals including PFOA. At worst, Maryland could have been criticized along with the Federal government and other states, for failing to regulate PFAS as a hazardous substance. But then, some days ago Maryland did … Continue Reading

Understand How EPA Does Not Expect to Seek Penalties during COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last Thursday retroactively beginning March 13, 2020, a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. EPA’s admittedly unprecedented temporary “enforcement discretion policy” applies to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak as a response to the deleterious effect on a wide variety of businesses. … Continue Reading

179D Tax Deduction Allocated from Government Buildings

On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation reviving the Section 179D energy efficient commercial building tax deduction and while much has been written about the much needed boost to green building, little has been said about the enormous benefits available from government owned buildings. The § 179D federal tax deduction was brought back from … Continue Reading

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Will Apply Only to Intentional Takes

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule clarifying that the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act only extends to conduct intentionally injuring birds. Conduct that results in the unintentional (incidental) injury or death of migratory birds is not prohibited under the act. As I described in a 2017 blog post, … Continue Reading

Low Carbon Concrete for the First Time Required by Law

The negative environmental impact of concrete, the most common man made substance on Earth, has not been meaningfully responded to in 2020. Cement use in concrete is the largest single material source of greenhouse gas emissions in building. Concrete is the largest single material source of embodied emissions in buildings, and makes for more than … Continue Reading

FERC Decision Puts State Renewable Portfolio Standards At Risk

In the ongoing conflagration between “reliable power” and “clean energy” many may have missed when last month federal energy policy declared reliability the winner with renewable energy subsidies (e.g., state renewable portfolio standards) the loser. In a decision that critics have called “unprecedented” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on December 19, 2019 issued an Order … Continue Reading

Phase l Assessments for Tenants are the Hottest Environmental Issue in 2020

The hottest environmental topic for business in 2020, as a result of an amendment to the Superfund law for the first time making clear that tenants can qualify as bona fide prospective purchasers, protected from cleanup costs from the presence of hazardous substances on a property, is prospective tenants are now ordering Phase l Environmental … Continue Reading
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