Archives: Environmental

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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

Court Adopts New Evidentiary Standard for Science

In 2020 when science and politics appear to have collided in a car wreck, confidence of the public in scientists is at an all time low. That observed, the public does not often think about the role courts have in accepting scientific theories. Last week Maryland’s highest court drew attention to this vital unsettled matter … 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

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

A Force Majeure Decision during the COVID-19 Pandemic

There has been much speculation and supposition about the interplay of force majeure provisions in leases and other contracts in response to government orders closing businesses during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but now there is an authoritative court decision that may provide persuasive authority. In a motion in a Bankruptcy case the landlord … 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

LEED can Help Mitigate Legal Risks in ESG Disclosures

Public companies in the U.S. find themselves at a dynamic time of emergent environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) disclosures. Vocal socially conscious investors, activist stockholder environmental proxy proposals, and the like are driving companies to make ESG statements. This blog post highlights the legal risk associated with ESG disclosures and proffers that with green building … 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

One Trillion Trees

The One Trillion Trees Initiative was launched at the World Economic Forum last month. When President Trump announced that the United States would join the tree planting initiative on January 21 in Davos among more than 3,000 world government, business, and NGO leaders, more than half of whom joined the commitment, it garnered little reaction … 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

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

Top 10 Environmental Blog Posts for the Roaring ‘20s

As we begin the new decade of the Roaring ‘20s we are incredibly excited about the prospects for environmental law. We are supremely confident that our business philosophy of “environmental risk as an opportunity” remains right for the times. This blog will continue in 2020 providing strategic intelligence on environmental law, including critical insights into … Continue Reading

PFOA Contamination is Found in 49 States

Two weeks ago, New York Attorney General Letitia James commenced a civil suit against the nation’s largest chemical manufacturers and several firefighting foam makers for what the complaint alleges is contamination of water supplies across the state with PFOAs, averring strict liability for public nuisance, strict products liability for defective products, strict products liability for … Continue Reading

An HREC is Not a REC in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

I review a large number of Phase I environmental site assessments, and year in, year out, the largest number of questions I field are about Historical Recognized Environmental Conditions. The environmental professionals who perform those assessment generally do not take heed of Eduardo Galeano’s quote, “History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘see you later.’” … Continue Reading
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