Tagged: Water Pollution

NJDEP Proposes to Reclassify 749 Miles of Waterways to Highly Protected Antidegradation Status in First Such Move Since 2008

NJDEP Proposes to Reclassify 749 Miles of Waterways to Highly Protected Antidegradation Status in First Such Move Since 2008

For the first time since 2008, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has proposed to amend its surface water quality standards to prohibit degradation of water quality in additional rivers and streams that did not previously enjoy such protection. The current proposal, which was released on March 4, would lift hundreds of miles of waterways to a more protected status as Category One waters. NJDEP’s water quality standards, found at N.J.A.C. 7:9B, have several components. The standards designate uses for all waters of the State, and prescribe water quality criteria (e.g., minimum levels of dissolved oxygen, and maximum levels of suspended solids and various toxics) necessary to allow for those uses. In addition, the standards establish three tiers of “antidegradation” designations. The highest tier consists of “outstanding natural resource waters,” so designated because of their unique ecological significance or because they are within the Pinelands, must be maintained in their natural state. Category One waters, occupying the second tier, are protected from any measurable change in their existing water quality. Water quality in Category Two waters, the third tier, may be lowered, but only with social and/or economic justification for the change. NJDEP’s proposal, which was first presented...

We Have to Talk: New Jersey Appellate Division Invalidates Discharge Permit for Failure of Agency to Consult with Highlands Council

We Have to Talk: New Jersey Appellate Division Invalidates Discharge Permit for Failure of Agency to Consult with Highlands Council

In the latest twist in a saga that began in 2002, the New Jersey Appellate Division held that the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) failure to consult with the Highlands Council invalidated a wastewater discharge permit that DEP had issued to the prospective developer of a site located in the “planning area” covered by the state’s Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act (Highlands Act). As a result, the story is guaranteed to continue for several more months and perhaps, in light of likely appeals, several more years. Bellemead Development Corporation first received a New Jersey Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) permit for the discharge of treated wastewater from a planned development in Tewksbury in 1998. In 2002, with the permit set to expire the next year, Bellemead applied for a renewal of its original permit. DEP’s denial of the application in 2006 set in motion a chain of administrative hearings, apparent settlements, and new applications that culminated in DEP’s issuance of a new permit in 2014. The Township of Readington and several citizen groups appealed. The appellants pointed to a number of procedural missteps by DEP, but the court focused on the department’s failure to consult the Highlands Council prior...

Executive Order Spells Uncertainty for Pending EPA Rules

Executive Order Spells Uncertainty for Pending EPA Rules

On January 30, 2017, as promised during his campaign, President Trump signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to identify two regulations to be repealed for every new regulation that is created. The order comes on the heels of a January 20, 2017 memorandum from White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus directing agency heads to freeze new or pending regulations including those that had been finalized but not yet published in the Federal Register. The “one in, two out” rule and regulatory freeze spell uncertainty for regulations currently in the pipeline for adoption by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), including the proposed financial assurances rules for the hardrock mining industry we have previously covered here. Other impacted EPA rule proposals include a stormwater general permit designed to reduce polluted runoff from construction sites and a rule which would include vapor intrusion as a method of evaluating contamination levels at potential Superfund sites. At present, it is unclear how the administration’s actions will ultimately impact any pending EPA regulations (or those of other federal agencies). The environmental attorneys at Gibbons P.C. will be closely monitoring any further executive action impacting proposed EPA rules and report on any important developments. Irvin M. Freilich, a Director in the...

“Removal vs. Remedial Action? – That is the Question”  Second Circuit Answers “Removal” and Vacates District Court’s Grant of Dismissal on CERCLA Statute of Limitations Grounds in State of New York v. Next Millenium Realty, LLC 0

“Removal vs. Remedial Action? – That is the Question” Second Circuit Answers “Removal” and Vacates District Court’s Grant of Dismissal on CERCLA Statute of Limitations Grounds in State of New York v. Next Millenium Realty, LLC

Environmental attorneys have long wrestled with the issue of whether particular clean-up activities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) fall under the statute of limitations for remedial actions, considered to be permanent responsive action, or for removals, considered to be interim remedial measures to address immediate threats to public health. In a governmental cost recovery action, guessing wrong can deprive a federal or state governmental entity of its ability to recover its clean up costs from Potentially Responsible Parties. In State of New York v. Next Millenium Realty, LLC, the Second Circuit vacated the District Court’s determination, holding that once an activity is instituted as a removal, it remains a removal until completion, even if it is incorporated into the final permanent remedy.

Another Edition of “No Addition”: Supreme Court Applies Precedent to Confirm Plaintiffs’ Concession That Movement of Water Within River Channel Was Not a “Discharge” 0

Another Edition of “No Addition”: Supreme Court Applies Precedent to Confirm Plaintiffs’ Concession That Movement of Water Within River Channel Was Not a “Discharge”

The answer you get depends on the question you ask. That’s the take-home lesson from the Supreme Court’s decision in Los Angeles Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council. All parties agreed on the answer to the specific question on which the Court granted certiorari. The Court, applying its own 2004 precedent, said they were correct — there was no “discharge” that violated the District’s permit because the flows in question simply went from one part of the same river system to another. The Court never reached the alternative ground for liability urged by the plaintiffs because it went beyond that narrow question. The result? A reversal and a win for the District on essentially procedural grounds.

EPA Seeks Outside Reviewers for Draft Report That Showed Groundwater Contamination from Fracking 0

EPA Seeks Outside Reviewers for Draft Report That Showed Groundwater Contamination from Fracking

In December, we reported on the release of a draft report from United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development on a possible link between groundwater contamination in some Wyoming wells and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) activity in the area. Now, as promised, EPA is initiating an independent assessment of the report by outside peer reviewers.

EPA Report Points to Fracking as Possible Source of Groundwater Contamination 0

EPA Report Points to Fracking as Possible Source of Groundwater Contamination

A draft report from United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development has tentatively pointed a finger at hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) as a cause of groundwater contamination detected in a number of wells near the town of Pavillion, Wyoming. The report, which has not yet undergone outside peer review, is likely to set off alarm bells among both proponents and opponents of fracking, including those in eastern states like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Either/Or: Third Circuit Reads Rapanos as Establishing Two Alternative Tests for Federal Regulatory Jurisdiction Over Wetlands 0

Either/Or: Third Circuit Reads Rapanos as Establishing Two Alternative Tests for Federal Regulatory Jurisdiction Over Wetlands

The Clean Water Act regulates the placement of fill into the “waters of the United States.” That term has come to include wetlands — or at least some wetlands. The Supreme Court’s last attempt, in Rapanos v. United States, to clarify which wetlands fall within the statute’s coverage caused great confusion, as the five Justices who agreed on the judgment (a four-Justice plurality led by Justice Scalia, and Justice Kennedy, who concurred separately) generated two separate tests for jurisdiction. Which test should lower courts apply? In an opinion released on October 31, the Third Circuit said, “both” — if the wetlands in question satisfy either Justice Scalia’s test or Justice Kennedy’s test, they fall within the statute’s reach.

NJ Proposes to Ban decaBDE Flame Retardant in Products 0

NJ Proposes to Ban decaBDE Flame Retardant in Products

In February and May of 2011, the New Jersey legislature induced identical bills in the Senate (S 2722) and Assembly (A3915) to ban the manufacture and sale of products containing decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE). DecaBDEs are used in plastics for TV cabinets, consumer electronics, wire insulation, back coatings for draperies and upholstery. Growing concerns over the connection between decaBDEs and liver, thyroid and neurodevelopmental toxicity have lead a number of states, countries, as well as the European Union to institute bans.

Updated Guidance From USEPA Concerning Brownfield Redevelopment 0

Updated Guidance From USEPA Concerning Brownfield Redevelopment

Encouraging development of environmentally challenged real estate — brownfields — is usually the task of state agencies. In New Jersey the Office of Smart Growth; the Economic Development Authority and the Department of Environmental Protection all offer programs intended to encourage redevelopment of brownfields. However, states are struggling to fund and support their brownfield programs and funds for outreach to potential developers and their allied professionals are in short supply.