Tagged: Regulations

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Addressing Climate Change Resiliency for New Jersey

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Addressing Climate Change Resiliency for New Jersey

As storms like Superstorm Sandy continue to grow more devastating and frequent, communities, governments, businesses, and industries of all sizes and varieties must face the challenge of adapting to a changing climate. October 29, 2019 marked the seventh anniversary of Sandy hitting New Jersey. Governor Murphy marked this occasion by signing Executive Order 89, which calls on the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish a Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy, among other initiatives related to climate change adaptation. “New Jersey is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of sea-level rise and global warming, and [this] Executive Order outlines a bold and comprehensive set of actions to ensure that our communities and infrastructure are more resilient against future storms,” said Government Murphy about the signing. The preamble to the Executive Order notes that New Jersey is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as a coastal state. Picking up on this administration’s Environmental Justice efforts, the Order acknowledges that minority and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. Climate change of course is an issue that also impacts all communities, including the business community, industry, and government. The preamble also notes that “studies show that each...

NJ District Court Leaves Plaintiff Without Course of Relief Under CERCLA

NJ District Court Leaves Plaintiff Without Course of Relief Under CERCLA

In Stahl v. Bauer Auto, Inc., the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey handed down a decision that may be troubling for parties seeking to recover environmental cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Responsive Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). By way of background, CERCLA generally provides a private cause of action to plaintiffs in two circumstances. The first falls under section 107(a), which allows a plaintiff to seek recovery of response costs that it has incurred from other potentially responsible parties. The second falls under section 113(f), which allows a plaintiff that is or was the defendant of a cost recovery claim, or that has resolved its liability with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under a judicially approved settlement, to seek contribution from other potentially responsible parties. Generally, a party that has incurred or will incur costs under CERCLA falls under one or both of these two categories. However, the N.J. District Court in Stahl held that there is at least one scenario where a plaintiff does not fall into either of these two categories and therefore has no claim under CERCLA. The factual history in the Stahl matter is long and complex. In short, the underlying...

U.S. Supreme Court Provides Guidance on the Disclosure of Confidential Information Under FOIA

U.S. Supreme Court Provides Guidance on the Disclosure of Confidential Information Under FOIA

Businesses often share sensitive information with the government either voluntarily or by mandate. This information becomes subject to requests under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), which is a source of concern to any business worried about disclosure of competitive business information. The United States Supreme Court recently handed down a decision that directly addresses this concern. In Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, the Court provides guidance on the protection from the disclosure of shared information deemed “confidential” under FOIA’s Exemption 4. In addition to businesses, this decision will have significant impact on public interest groups and media that may seek information through FOIA. Justice Gorsuch authored the opinion for the majority, which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Kagan, and Kavanaugh joined. Justice Breyer added an opinion concurring in part, and dissenting in part that Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor joined. Argus Leader Media, a newspaper in South Dakota, filed a request under FOIA seeking information the United Stated Department of Agriculture collected as part of the national food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Specifically, Argus Leader sought the names and addresses of retailers that participate in SNAP and each store’s annual...

Split Ninth Circuit Grants Government’s Interlocutory Appeal in Youths’ Climate Change Suit

Split Ninth Circuit Grants Government’s Interlocutory Appeal in Youths’ Climate Change Suit

In 2015, 21 youth plaintiffs, ranging in age from eight to 19 at the time of filing, brought a constitutional climate-change lawsuit against the United States alleging that the United States and various executive branch agencies discriminate against younger generations with policies that contribute to and exacerbate climate change in violation of their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. The plaintiffs seek an order enjoining current governmental policies and adopting a plan to curb excessive carbon dioxide emissions. The government unsuccessfully sought to have the case dismissed, and when that failed, sought mandamus from the Ninth Circuit directing the district court to dismiss the suit. Recently, after a trip up to the United States Supreme Court and back down to the Oregon District Court, the Ninth Circuit ultimately agreed by a 2-1 majority to allow the defendants’ mandamus petition to proceed. The majority noted that interlocutory appeals under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) are generally only authorized when a district court order “involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion” and found “an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.” The plaintiffs allege that...

NYSDEC Adopts Update to SEQR Regulations

NYSDEC Adopts Update to SEQR Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) announced on June 28, 2018 that it had adopted a rulemaking package directed at updating its regulations relating to the State Environmental Quality Review (“SEQR”). The updates – DEC’s first to its SEQR regulations in more than two decades – are the product of an effort that began in February 2017 with the DEC’s filing of an initial notice and, following a series of public comment periods and subsequent revisions, culminated with its publication of the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“FGEIS”) and revised text of the regulations. As revised, the regulations become effective on January 1, 2019 and apply to all actions for which a determination of significance has not been made by January 1, 2019. For projects that receive a determination of significance made prior to January 1, 2019, the existing SEQR regulations (which originally took effect in 1996) will continue to apply. Once effective, the revised regulations could have a significant impact on SEQR’s applicability to future development projects. The new regulations contemplate a number of mechanical changes to the environmental review process itself, including mandatory scoping of environmental impact statements, changes to the required content of environmental impact...

NJDEP Announces Change to Remediation Standards for Certain Contaminants

NJDEP Announces Change to Remediation Standards for Certain Contaminants

On September 18, 2017, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) announced updated soil remediation standards for 19 contaminants. The updates are based on changes to toxicity data for the specified contaminants maintained by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the agency’s Integrated Risk Information System database. Responsible parties and others conducting cleanups should consult with their Licensed Site Remediation Professionals and other environmental consultants regarding the applicability of the new standards to their sites. The new standards are in effect as of September 18, 2017. A copy of the updated standards can be viewed at NJDEP’s website.

Update: U.S. Supreme Court Announces New Test for Defining “the Parcel” in a Regulatory Taking

Update: U.S. Supreme Court Announces New Test for Defining “the Parcel” in a Regulatory Taking

On March 22, 2017, we blogged about the importance of the United States Supreme Court’s looming decision in Murr v. Wisconsin – a regulatory takings case that was poised to resolve a key question long left unanswered by the Court’s takings jurisprudence: how do you define the relevant parcel in determining a regulation’s impact on “the parcel as a whole?” On June 23, 2017, the Court issued its ruling, and in a 5-3 decision answered definitively that it depends. Sometimes a regulation may go so far as to effect a “taking” of one’s property. In determining when a regulation has gone so far, the Court has previously instructed that reviewing courts must consider the regulation’s interference with property rights “in the parcel as a whole.” But the precise boundaries of “the parcel” are not always clear and, in many cases, may prove to be dispositive of whether there was a taking at all. The Court described the problem in Keystone Bituminous Coal Assn. v. DeBenedictis, explaining that because the regulatory takings analysis requires a comparison between the value taken from the property to the value which remains, “one of the critical questions is determining how to define the unit of property whose...

What Parcel? SCOTUS Hears Arguments in Case Poised to Clarify the Court’s Regulatory Takings Jurisprudence

What Parcel? SCOTUS Hears Arguments in Case Poised to Clarify the Court’s Regulatory Takings Jurisprudence

The Supreme Court of the United States entertained arguments on Monday, March 20, 2017 in a case likely to fortify its Fifth Amendment regulatory takings jurisprudence. The case, Murr v. Wisconsin, is on appeal from Wisconsin’s high court and, when decided, should answer a question left open by the Court’s 1978 ruling in Penn Central Transportation Company v. City of New York. In Penn Central, the Court instructed that in determining whether a regulation has gone far enough to constitute a taking of private property, courts should not limit their analysis to the regulation’s effect on some discrete segment or portion of the subject property, but should instead consider the regulation’s interference with property rights “in the parcel as a whole.” The question of how reviewing courts should define that parcel, however, has gone unanswered for decades. Enter the Murr children, whose parents purchased two adjacent tracts of land along the St. Croix River in the early 1960s. The Murr parents built a cabin on the first lot and maintained title to it in the name of their business. The second lot, purchased afterwards, was kept in their name and remained largely undeveloped. In 1976, a county ordinance was passed establishing new minimum...

EPA Agrees to Push Back Comment Deadline for Proposed Financial Assurance Regs

EPA Agrees to Push Back Comment Deadline for Proposed Financial Assurance Regs

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently extended the public comment period for a proposed rule which would impose financial assurances requirements for cleanups conducted by companies in the hardrock mining industry, as required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). In publishing the proposed rule on January 11, 2017, the EPA established a 60-day comment period for impacted parties to present their views on the rule to EPA. An overview of the financial assurance requirements imposed by CERCLA and the details of the proposed rule can be found in our prior posts on June 13, 2016 and January 4, 2017. On February 17, 2017, Congressmen Greg Walden (R-OR), Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Bill Shuster (R- PA) asked then-acting EPA Administrator Catherine McCabe to extend the comment period into the summer of 2017, citing the intricacies of the rule and complicated statistics on which EPA relied in drafting the rule. A week later, on February 24, 2017, recently confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt granted the request and extended the comment period by four months, claiming that the extension was in response to dozens of requests from stakeholders, in addition to the letter from the congressmen. Comments...

EPA Proposes First Financial Assurances Rule 0

EPA Proposes First Financial Assurances Rule

On December 1, 2016, following decades of inaction and a court order establishing a deadline by which the proposed rule was to be released, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced that it would publish a proposed rule regulating financial assurances required for parties conducting remediation projects in the hardrock mining industry. Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) directed EPA to develop rules requiring “that classes of facilities establish and maintain evidence of financial responsibility consistent with the degree and duration of risk associated with the production, transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes.” 42 U.S.C. 9608(b)(1). Although these rules were required to be promulgated by 1985, EPA never published any rules, which led to a deadline of December 1, 2016 being set by court order in response to a lawsuit complaining that EPA failed to comply with the statute. See In re Idaho Conservation League, 811 F.3d 502 (D.C. Cir. 2016). In the absence of such rules, EPA required financial assurance through negotiated settlements, orders, and guidance.