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ETAB Hot News May 2019

By Andrew W Fowler posted 21 days ago

  

ETAB Hot News May 2019

Below is the ABA SEER Environmental Transactions and Brownfields (ETAB) Committee's Hot News installment for May 2019! 

Hot News
 is a monthly summaries of cases, legislation, and news related to our committee, organized by EPA Region.  

Sincerely,
The ETAB Vice-Chairs for Electronic Communications and Social Media 
Meaghan A. Colligan, Esq., Andrew Fowler, Esq., and William Yon, Esq.


FEDERAL

 

EPA takes another step towards regulatory oversight of PFAS contamination

Nessa Coppinger & Sarah Munger, National Law Review, April 29, 2019

Summary by Daniel A. Fanning

On April 25, 2019, EPA released its draft interim recommendations to guide final cleanup levels for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”), perfluoroctanoic acid (“PFOA”) and perfluoroctane sulfonate (“PFOS”). The draft recommendation proposes a screening level of 40 ppt for both PFOA and PFOS to trigger further evaluation of the site. EPA also proposes preliminary remediation goals (PRGs) of 70 ppt for groundwater that is a current or potential source of drinking water if there are no state or tribal laws or regulations that qualify as applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARARs). Where state or tribal laws or regulations qualify as ARARs for PFOA or PFOS, those standards should be used to develop PRGs. Public comment on this interim recommendation will continue until June 10, 2019.

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/epa-publishes-draft-screening-and-remediation-recommendations-groundwater

 

The 8th Circuit holds building sellers liable for cleanup cost under CERCLA

United States v. Dico, Inc., 920 F.3d 1174 (8th Cir. 2019).

Summary by Daniel A. Fanning

EPA sued Dico, Inc. and Titan Tire Corporation to recover for CERCLA remediation costs under “arranger” liability. The two companies sold several buildings to Southern Iowa Mechanical (“SIM”) without disclosing knowledge that the buildings contained high levels of PCBs and were subject to an EPA order. Dico and Titan also knew SIM planned to demolish the buildings and dispose of the resulting rubble. Utilizing a Supreme Court case, Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company v. United States, 556 U.S. 599 (2009), the 8th Circuit found that Dico and Titan intended for the PCB contaminated material to be disposed of through the sale, and thus “arranged” for its disposal through the sale.

 

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. introduces brownfield and PFAS drinking water remediation funding act

Amy L. Edwards & Meaghan A Colligan, Holland & Knight LLP, May 20, 2019

Summary by Daniel A. Fanning

The proposed Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow's America Act (“LIFT America Act”) was introduced on May 15, 2019, and a hearing was schedule by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The proposed LIFT America Act includes the PFAS Drinking Water Act which could offer grants for treatment technologies for communities struggling with PFAS contamination. The LIFT America Act also continues to allocate funding for the EPA Brownfield Program and State and Tribal Brownfields Response Programs.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=610ad9f7-187a-4d3d-abc4-3b7a42158fd4

 

Do you smell what the Fourth Circuit is cooking?

Will Hendrick, Waterkeeper Alliance, May 8, 2019

McKiver et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, 7:14-cv-00180.

Summary by JD Howard

In the latest drama to arise in the nuisance litigation surrounding Murphy-Brown’s CAFO operations in North Carolina, amicus briefs filed on behalf of eight law professors and Waterkeeper Alliance argue that Murphy-Brown cannot use evidence of its compliance with a “weak” regulatory scheme to avoid liability for punitive damages. Murphy-Brown seeks, in part, to reduce the punitive damages amount because its contractor, farm operator Kinlaw Farms, was in compliance with all applicable NC regulations. The Waterkeeper Alliance’s amicus brief disputed that characterization and argued that North Carolina has “a weak regulatory scheme, overseen by an under-resourced regulatory agency.” The law professors take a slightly different tack, arguing that “if complying with regulations that allow ‘unreasonable behavior’ gave companies legal cover from lawsuits like this one, plaintiffs would have no way to get compensated for any injuries and there would be one less motivating factor to change inadequate standards.”

https://waterkeeper.org/hog-operations-can-follow-nc-laws-still-liable-for-nuisance/

REGION 1 – CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT

 

Connecticut House votes in favor of wind power

Mark Pazniokas, CT Mirror, May 14, 2019

Summary by Fred McDonald

The vote was 134-10 for Connecticut to invest in offshore wind turbines. If the bill is passed and signed into law after Senate review, the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will begin the process of soliciting bids for wind power products within fourteen days of the enactment to ensure that the State qualifies for a federal tax credit that expires at the end of this year. Section 1(2) of the bill places restrictions on the bids and requires that each include explicit descriptions of “best management practices” informed by current science to mitigate impacts to “wildlife, natural resources, ecosystems, and traditional or existing water-dependent uses.” This offshore wind project could one day be a renewable competitor to the Millstone nuclear power station.

https://ctmirror.org/2019/05/14/a-strong-bipartisan-vote-for-wind-power-in-connecticut/

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2019/FC/pdf/2019HB-07156-R000192-FC.PDF

 

Vermont passes PFAS protection law

Conservation Law Foundation, May 16, 2019

Summary by Fred McDonald

In response to the fact that the federal government has not removed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from the market, Governor Phil Scott signed a bill to create drinking water standards for five PFAS chemicals in Vermont. The law requires PFAS testing at public water systems and statewide investigations of PFAS sources. With this bill, Vermont can address impairments to the state’s streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds, resulting from PFAS contamination.

https://www.clf.org/newsroom/vermont-governor-signs-pfas-protection-law/

 

Massachusetts entities cooperate to offer solar rebate program

Elaine Thompson, Telegram, May 13, 2019

Summary by Fred McDonald

The Department of Energy Resources, Energy New England, and Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. are funding a new solar rebate program that supports residential and small solar projects in service territories starting May 20, 2019. The rebate program will allow municipal light plant customers to reduce the price of installing solar energy on their property. Municipal light plants will be responsible to provide a 50% cost-share incentive to residents. In support of the solar program, the governor of Massachusetts is awarding $2.3 million to the program. This rebate program is an additional step in transitioning Massachusetts from the Solar Renewable Energy Credit programs to the SMART program.

https://www.telegram.com/news/20190513/state-launches-solar-rebate-program-for-customers-of-municipal-light-plants-like-shrewsburys

 

 

REGION 2 – NJ, NY, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

 

Senate committee approves bill committing New Jersey to being fossil-free by 2050

Tom Johnson, njspotlight.com, May 17, 2019

Summary by Sophy Sedarat

This month, the NJ Senate Environment and Energy Committee unanimously approved a bill that “requires all electricity in New Jersey by 2050 to come from carbon-free sources, presumably renewable energy and nuclear power.” Currently, natural gas supplies roughly 40% of the state’s electricity and heats about two-thirds of NJ homes. The bill’s proposed shift away from natural gas is intended to further the state’s clean energy goals and move towards reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Although environmentalists applaud the goal of the bill, they are critical of the absence of specific benchmarks for phasing out fossil fuels.

https://www.njspotlight.com/stories/19/05/16/lawmakers-embrace-goal-of-a-fossil-fuel-free-new-jersey-by-2050/

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/S4000/3681_I1.PDF

 

New York rejects $1billion pipeline project

Vivian Wang & Michael Adno, nytimes.com, May 15, 2019

Summary by Sophy Sedarat

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rejected the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline, finding the project would “result in water quality violations and fails to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards.” The NESE pipeline, proposed by Williams Companies, would run 37 miles and connect natural gas fields in Pennsylvania to New York and New Jersey. Williams claimed the $1 billion pipeline would curtail a purported foreseeable energy shortage and is allegedly critical to fulfilling the area’s energy needs. Environmentalists accuse Williams of “manufacturing a crisis to justify a project that would rip apart fragile ecosystems, handcuff New York to fossil fuels and hobble the state’s march toward renewable resources.” The DEC denied the pipeline application without prejudice, which gives Williams an opportunity to reapply—an opportunity, the company has indicated, it intends to seize.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/15/nyregion/williams-pipeline-gas-energy.html

https://www.compelo.com/energy/news/williams-nese-pipeline-project-ny-dec/

 

In response to pipeline denial, New York gas company refuses to provide service to new customers

Iulia Gheorghiu, utilitydive.com, May 22, 2019

Summary by Sophy Sedarat

Two days after the New York DEC denied the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline application, National Grid issued a moratorium on providing natural gas service to new New York customers. National Grid followed an identical move by ConEd, which issued a similar moratorium earlier this year; both companies claim that the approval of pipeline projects are necessary to sustain natural gas service to the area. The NESE pipeline project developer, Williams Companies, has contemporaneously resubmitted its application, which will also require environmental permits from New Jersey. National Grid believes the pipeline project will be approved and operational by the end of 2020 or early 2021.

https://www.utilitydive.com/news/national-grid-says-no-new-nyc-gas-customers-until-state-approves-pipeline/555283/

 

 

Region 3 – DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, WV

Johns Hopkins University announces plans to get two-thirds of its electricity from a solar farm in Virginia

Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun, April 22, 2019

Summary by Dominique Albano

John Hopkins University announced it will begin purchasing 250,000MW from a Virginia solar farm starting in 2021. According to the EPA, this would make the University the “largest users of ‘green’ energy among higher education institutions in the United States.” The solar electricity generated from Virginia plant will power its campuses in Baltimore, Hampden, Mount Washington, Laurel, and Washington, D.C. However, there the University and Energy company have refused to provide information as to who will be developing the project, how much land will be required, where the solar plant will be located, and the amount of forest clearing that will occur as a result of the project.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/environment/bs-md-hopkins-solar-20190422-story.html

 

The Energy 202: EPA finally added West Virginia site plagued by chemical dumping to priority cleanup list

Dino Grandoni, The Washington Post, May 14, 2019

Summary by Dominique Albano

The EPA added the Town of Minden, West Virginia, home to coal equipment manufacturers, to the national priority list for Superfund sites. The government’s priority is the Shaffer Equipment Co. site, near the Arbuckle Creek. The company used polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on their equipment and contributed to an “alarming number” of cancer patients and health related issues in the area. Previously, the EPA attempted to remove PCB-laced drums by burying them under thousands of pounds of soil, but this was unsuccessful. The Town and environmental activists propose relocating nearby residents away from the toxic site.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-energy-202/2019/05/14/the-energy-202-epa-finally-added-west-virginia-site-plagued-by-chemical-dumping-to-priority-cleanup-list/5cd9c09c1ad2e544f001dcfa/?utm_term=.e1853807aace

 

DC heads to 100% renewable energy, a symbolic move for the country

Noreen O’Donnell, NBC News, April 22, 2019

Summary by Dominique Albano

In December, the District of Columbia passed a law requiring all of its electricity to be provided by renewable sources by 2032. D.C.’s new requirements are meant to act as a standard for other states and cities to follow. Seventy-four percent of D.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions come from its buildings, and the D.C. Council wants to mandate that all buildings meet federal energy efficiency performance standards and create a green energy bank to build affordable green housing for multi-family residences. These requirements are meant to bring in more clean energy alternatives, such as solar, wind, and hydropower and prevent new long-term electricity contracts with non-renewable suppliers.

https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/The-Nations-Capital-Moves-Toward-All-Renewable-Energy-Federal-Buildings-Included-508811571.html

 

Pa. high court won't hear fracking zoning ordinance challenge

Michael Phillis, Law 360, May 14, 2019

Summary by Dominique Albano

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied an appeal by Allegheny Township residents of Westmoreland County local zoning ordinances allowing oil and gas drilling in all zoning districts. The ordinances, which require compliance with public safety and welfare standards, state permits, and federal permits, were adopted in 2010 and paved the way to CNX’s unconventional gas well permit in the Township’s agricultural-residential zone. In 2015, the Township’s zoning board rejected the resident’s challenge to the ordinance after the approval of the CNX zoning permit. The court determined that there was no violation of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment because the zoning ordinance was a form of spot zoning and because the state, rather than municipalities, regulate gas extraction.

http://www.paenvironmentdigest.com/newsletter/default.asp?NewsletterArticleID=46697&SubjectID=

REGION 4 - AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN

 

Hurdle cleared for exploratory oil well in the Everglades

Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 9. 2019

Summary by JD Howard

Both the City of Miramar and Broward County have dropped their appeal of Florida’s First District Court of Appeal that allowed an exploratory oil well to be drilled in the Everglades. Miramar and Broward County appealed after the First District cited a recent amendment to the state constitution (“Amendment 6”), which eliminated judicial deference to agency interpretations of law and required a de novo review of an FDEP decision to deny an oil and gas permit based on the Everglades Forever Act. The court had also found that FDEP did not correctly apply a balancing test and ultimately ruled that while the Everglades Forever Act demonstrates a legislative dedication to long-term restoration it did not prohibit oil drilling. The court held that FDEP “improperly relied on an un-adopted rule which would in practice prohibit all exploratory oil drilling in the Everglades, without statutory authority.” A recent ruling from Florida’s Supreme Court requiring de novo review of a Florida Public Service Commission statutory interpretation likely gutted the legal basis for a successful appeal.

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-ne-everglades-drilling-supreme-court-20190509-tyiu6o3mjbhcrhoney3za744by-story.html

 

SC solar bill powers to the Governor’s desk

Summary by JD Howard

The South Carolina Senate recently approved the Energy Freedom Act, setting the bill up for signature or veto by the governor. The bill aims to provide initiatives that would ensure solar power is an affordable alternative for utility customers. The bill also encourages large-scale solar projects by allowing solar development projects to secure ten-year contracts with utility companies. Specifically, the bill: (1) permanently eliminates caps on net metering; (2) sets a process to determine successor rates for net metering to begin June 2021; (3) drives PURPA contracts implementation for projects sitting in queues; (4) introduces transparency reforms to the integrated resource planning (IRP) process; and (5) gives regulators the option to require all-source solicitations for projects larger than 75 MW. The bill is expected to be signed without further issue.

https://www.wspa.com/news/energy-freedom-act-passes-south-carolina-house-and-senate/1993606152

https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2019/05/08/energy-freedom-act-passes-south-carolina-senate/

https://www.seia.org/news/sc-senate-passage-energy-freedom-act-big-step-forward-seia-urges-swift-final-approval

https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/press-releases/selcs-statement-in-response-to-south-carolina-unanimously-passing-solar-leg

 

Proposed: blue water on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

John Fitzhugh, WLOX, May 17, 2019.
Summary by Abram Orlansky

The Mississippi Gulf Coast may one day be able to add clear blue water to its list of attractions. Representatives of Unabridged Architecture recently proposed a roughly $100 million project to the Hancock County Greenways Committee that would, the firm said, turn a section of the Coast’s famously brown water blue. The proposal would include “building a second seawall and creating a new blue-water ecosystem close to shore.” If successfully completed, the project would result in Hancock County, Mississippi boasting the only blue-water beach in the several-hundred-mile stretch of shoreline between Orange Beach, Alabama and Galveston, Texas, with the added benefits of increased storm resilience, enhanced economic activity, and mitigated ecological damage.

https://www.wlox.com/2019/05/17/hancock-county-committee-hears-proposal-bluewater-beach

 

Alabama Department of Environmental Management levies maximum fine for coal ash violation

In re Alabama Power Company Plant Gadsden Ash Pond, Ala. Dept. of Envt’l Mgmt, Proposed Order

Summary by Abram Orlansky

Alabama Power Company submitted groundwater test results to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) on May 2, 2019, which indicated the Company had allowed discharge of pollutants associated with ash pond wastewater from its Plant Gadsden Ash Pond. The groundwater data submitted showed MCL exceedances of arsenic and radium. ADEM published a proposed order that would impose the statutory maximum civil penalty of $250,000 for the violations, require a full report from Alabama Power Company describing the groundwater sampling event(s), and require the Company to undertake corrective measures.

http://adem.alabama.gov/newsEvents/notices/may19/pdfs/5alpower.pdf

REGION 5 – IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI and 35 Tribes

 

Michigan city redevelopment authority gets a 2020 budget of $11,456,793

Ehren Wynder, GRBJ, May 17, 2019

Summary by Daniel A. Fanning

The Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority’s (BRA) budget was recently approved by the Grand Rapids City Commission. The BRA’s operating fund provides for grants and loans for eligible activities such as brownfield redevelopment. The program has seen a lot of success, particularly due to the State of Michigan’s and EPA’s contributing $206 million in tax increment financing and over $46 million in grants and loans. Due to this success, the fund has generated revenue of its own, added nine new projects in 2018, and approved 48 more.   

https://www.grbj.com/articles/93366-brownfield-agencys-2020-budget-is-a-mixed-bag

 

Zoo in Toledo, Ohio, purchases adjacent brownfield for redevelopment

Alexandra Mester & David Patch, Toledo Blade, May 7, 2019

Summary by Daniel A. Fanning

Once part of the Jennison Wright property, and along the Anthony Wayne Trail, the 8.95-acre parcel is only a small part of the overall brownfield. The site processed coal to produce asphalt pavement sealer through local brand, Jennite, and was subject to regulatory action from the Ohio EPA. The worst of the contamination was removed in 1994 and 1995, which included tar, sludge, debris, water, and tar-contaminated soil. The zoo purchased the land for $150,000 with the help of the Lucas County Economic Development Corp, after spending $50,000 in transaction costs. Because the site is a brownfield, no animals will be kept on the property for the time being.

https://www.toledoblade.com/local/city/2019/05/07/toledo-zoo-buys-land-along-anthony-wayne-trail/stories/20190506148

 

EPA funding will help redevelop a brownfield in Ingham County, Michigan

Associated Press, WILX 10, May 14, 2019

Summary by Daniel A. Fanning

Delhi Charter Township approved a brownfield redevelopment plan to build a Michigan State University Federal Credit Union on the site of an old gas station. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy approved a grant of $370,000 to help with the $5.5 million-dollar project.

https://www.wilx.com/content/news/Michigan-awards-370K-for-Ingham-County-cleanup-project-509890801.html

 

 

REGION 6 – AR, LA, NM, OK, TX and 66 Tribes

Oil and gas merger gets surprise bidder--Occidental

Clifford Krauss, New York Times, May 6, 2019

Summary by Calvin Dixon

In a rare twist for oil and gas mergers (see previous month’s story here), Anadarko Petroleum’s board rejected a takeover bid from Houston’s Chevron. Occidental, a frequent suitor for Anadarko, upped its offer by $10 billion with an investment from Berkshire Hathaway. The investment increased Occidental’s cash portion from 50 percent to 78 percent. At stake in this bidding war was Anadarko’s 600,000 acres on the Permian Basin, thought to have some of the largest oil reserves in the country. Some Wall Street analyst mused that Occidental’s increased offer foreclosed on the company’s board voting on the deal since its offering was less than 20 percent of its shares.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/business/energy-environment/anadarko-occidental-chevron.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

 

Harris County officials aim to correct corporate environmental misbehavior

Andrew Schneider, Houston Public Media, May 20, 2019

Summary by Calvin Dixon

Various officials in Harris County have moved to curtail harmful corporate behavior in recent chemical plant fires near Houston. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg filled five misdemeanor environmental charges against Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), while the County Commissioners Court approved increasing the number of environmental prosecutors and staff. Local prosecutors believe the funding was long overdue and will assist in developing relationships with whistleblowers and obtaining air monitoring equipment. In spite of these local enforcement efforts, local residents did not expect anything to change on the state level, since the state has capped environmental fines.

https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/in-depth/2019/05/20/332922/harris-county-moves-to-crack-down-on-environmental-crime/

 

Sempra Energy acquires stake in Dallas utility

Houston Chronicle, May 17, 2019

Summary by Calvin Dixon

Sempra Energy, a California utility completed the purchase of a 50 percent stake in a Dallas utility, Sharyland Utilities. This deal was initially announced last October as part of a broader set of deals and ultimately approved by the Texas Public Utility Commission earlier this month. The new entity was controlled by Sempra and Hunter Hunt along with other members of the Hunt family. The combined company continued to operate as an independent transmission utility. Sharyland proposed to seek other development opportunities in Texas.

https://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Sempra-Energy-buys-stake-in-Sharyland-Utilities-13851823.php

Region 7 – IA, KS, MO, NE and 9 Tribal Nations

EPA issues public notice for a permit termination of former Solutia, J.F. Queeny facility

EPA Public Notices, May 10, 2019

Summary by Brooke Sartin

The EPA and Missouri Department of Natural Resources are requesting public comment on the RCRA permit termination for the former Solutia, J.F. Queeny facility. The facility is no longer a hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility subject to corrective action and permitting requirements under relevant regulations. Public comments must be submitted in writing by June 24, 2019. At this time a public hearing has not been scheduled, but if significant public comments arise, then a public hearing will be scheduled.

https://www.epa.gov/mo/former-solutia-jf-queeny-facility-st-louis-missouri

 

EPA requests public comment on corrective action process termination

EPA Public Notices, May 14, 2019

Summary by Brooke Sartin

The owner/operator of the former Kainos Associates Facility in West Des Moines, Iowa has satisfied RCRA corrective action obligations. While it originally marketed reprocessed pesticide products, operations changed to fertilizer storage and distributions in 1986. Uncertainty about the extent of previous contamination led to comprehensive on-site environmental investigations in 1990-1991, 2010, and a related smaller investigation in 2018. The EPA determined the property does not present a potential threat to human health or adverse to the environment. Public comment is being accepted through June 12, 2019.

https://www.epa.gov/ia/former-kainos-associates-facility-west-des-moines-iowa

 

Missouri Mining Investments, LLC agrees to removal action at Madison County Mines Superfund Site

EPA Public Notices, May 13, 2019

Summary by Brooke Sartin

Sporlan Valve Plant #1 in Washington, Missouri was added to the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL). It was first developed as a refrigeration valve manufacturing facility in 1939, which released TCE into the ground over several decades. TCE has been detected in groundwater, soil gas, and indoor air surrounding the site.

https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-updates-national-priorities-list-adds-sporlan-valve-plant-1-superfund-site

 

REGION 8 – CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY

 

Biomass power plant developers settle False Claims Act claims for $2.6M

Randy Wyrick, Vail Daily, May 7, 2019

Summary by Vaishali Gaur

The former owners and developers of Gypsum’s biomass power plant agreed to a $2.6 million settlement with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to return stimulus money that they were not entitled to. The three companies had received funds in 2014 from an Obama-era federal renewable energy program. Rather than notify the U.S. Treasury and return the excess funds received as required by law, the trio chose to keep the funds.

https://www.vaildaily.com/news/former-gypsum-biomass-plant-owners-pay-2-6m-to-resolve-federal-fraud-allegations/

 

Enviros sue Colorado oil and gas companies for skirting CAA requirements

WildEarth Guardians v. Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., et al., No. 19-cv-01286 (D. Colo. May 3, 2019).

Summary by Vaishali Gaur

WildEarth Guardians filed suit against seven oil and gas companies, alleging that the companies released volatile organic compounds from production facilities in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The environmental group alleges that the companies abused a Colorado law that allows for 90 days after the time wells are brought into production before the pollutants from the wells are regulated. The suit further alleges that the companies avoided compliance with CAA’s stringent limits by developing wells and putting them into production prior to obtaining permits.

 

Colorado passed bill putting Tri-State under PUC’s rulemaking

Catherine Morehouse, Utility Drive, May 7, 2019

Summary by Vaishali Gaur

Colorado legislators passed a comprehensive utility bill that subjects Tri-State Generation and Transmission to the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) rulemaking and codifies Xcel Energy’s clean energy plans. About half of Tri-State’s generation comes from coal. The Rocky Mountain Institute found that the utility’s customers could save $600 million by shifting toward renewables. The new bill codifies Xcel’s goal to reach 100% clean energy by 2050 and allows the utility to own 50% of its future renewable energy assets. Further, the bill establishes securitization measures to refinance fossil fuel assets, shifts risk away from ratepayers, and directs the PUC to consider the social cost of carbon when policymaking.

https://www.utilitydive.com/news/colorado-approves-bill-putting-tri-state-under-puc-as-members-flee-to-renew/554228/

 

 

Region 9 – CA, HI, NV, AZ

 

After lengthy negotiations, Colorado River states close to executing drought plan

Andrew Nicla, AZ Central, May 20, 2019

Summary by Matthew DeGioia

A drought contingency agreement between seven states to prevent the Colorado River system from reaching critically low levels is nearing completion. The all-but-executed agreement features deep water cutbacks for Arizona in the coming years, as well as the creation of two regional drought contingency plans, one for the states bordering the Upper Basin (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico), and the other for the states in the Lower Basin (Arizona, Nevada, and California). The agreement still has hurdles to clear, including The Imperial Irrigation District’s lawsuit alleging that the Metropolitan Water District sidestepped a California law which requires it to consider all impacts of potential cutbacks before participating in the agreement. Assuming the states sign the agreement, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will implement the plan, with the first significant cutbacks to occur when Lake Mead dips below 1,075 feet above sea level. While water shortages are still expected to occur, the plan would allow Arizona and other bordering states to cope with any shortage and prevent Lake Mead and Lake Powell from falling to critical levels.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2019/05/20/drought-contingency-plan-done-now-what/3477317002/

 

Fight over Rosemont Mine construction continues

June Seay, The Arizona Tribune, May 20, 2019

Summary by Matthew DeGioia

In an ongoing battle over the construction of the Rosemont copper mine, Native American tribes and environmental groups recently filed a request in federal court for an emergency order to force Hudbay Minerals, Inc. to cease construction pending factual development. Protestors believe that mine construction would pollute ancestral lands, desecrate sacred territories, dry out local wells, and cause air and water pollution. Proponents of the project herald the creation of 500 jobs and estimates of close to $16 billion in investments within 20 years. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2019.

https://www.thearizonatribune.com/hudbay-minerals-inc-copper-project-of-arizona-opposed-by-native-american-tribes-and-environment-groups/

 

California Senate to vote on Mojave Desert water project bill

Sam Metz, Palm Springs Desert Sun, May 18, 2019

Summary by Matthew DeGioia

The California Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that could block Cadiz, Inc. from pumping 16.3 billion gallons out of a Mojave Desert aquifer and across public lands to the Colorado River Aqueduct. The bill would prohibit transfers from groundwater basins that adversely affect the environment and would require Cadiz to apply for additional permits from the State Lands Commission and submit annual updates to the Commission on the environmental impact of the project on the groundwater basin. Even though Cadiz’s project passed a review required by the California Environmental Quality Act, geological surveys have repeatedly concluded that the company’s proposal to extract 50,000 acre-feet of water per year would exceed the aquifer’s recharge rate and lead to its depletion. Backers of the project emphasize various benefits of the project, including a new source of clean drinking water for local businesses, schools, and 400,000 Southern California residents. 

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/17/california-lawmakers-advance-bill-increase-oversight-cadiz-mojave-desert-water-project/3694988002/

 

 

Region 10 – AK, ID, OR, WA and 271 Tribal Nations

EPA grants Region 10 states $3.8 million to fund diesel pollution reduction projects

EPA News Release, May 1, 2019

Summary by Megan Edwards

The US EPA Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), administered by the EPA’s West Coast Collaborative, granted funding to diesel reduction projects to reduce emissions from major diesel pollution sources. Funds allotted to the Alaska Energy Authority will replace eight diesel generator in rural Alaskan communities. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality will retrofit five logging trucks, nine cement/dump trucks, one construction vehicle, and eight local/highway freight hauling vehicles with devices that reduce diesel emissions and save fuel. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will retrofit nine diesel powered school buses and replace 18 older diesel-powered school buses with newer, lower emitting and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Washington Department of Ecology will use funds to retrofit diesel-powered transit buses with electric motors.

https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-provides-38-million-alaska-and-nw-states-and-partners-diesel-pollution-reduction

 

Agreement reached between the EPA, Portland, and Oregon to fund a cleanup plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund

EPA News Release, May 10, 2019

Summary by Megan Edwards

The city of Portland and the state of Oregon have agreed to provide up to $24 million in reimbursement funding to encourage responsible parties to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site. The EPA placed the Portland Harbor Superfund Site on the Superfund National Priorities list in 2000, and issued a final cleanup plan for the site in 2017. EPA negotiations with Responsible Parties are ongoing. The cleanup will address health risks to people, fish, and wildlife, and will aid in the revitalization of the waterfront of the Lower Willamette River.

https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/portland-harbor-superfund-agreement-aims-drive-new-cleanup-plans-throughout-lower

 

Proposed rule to revise the Oregon territorial sea plan to provide for renewable energy development

Oregon Secretary of State, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, April 22, 2019

Summary by Megan Edwards

The Oregon Land Conservation and Development Department provided notice of a proposed rulemaking on April 22 which would incorporate maps that designate areas where marine renewable energy development can be sited. The proposed rule would also incorporate standards and review criteria to be applied by state agencies in conducting their review of renewable energy project proposals for these marine areas. The Department believes that, if developed responsibly and appropriately, renewable ocean energy may help preserve Oregon’s natural resources and enhance quality of life.

https://www.oregon.gov/lcd/LAR/Documents/660-036_TSP5_NoticeFilingTrackedChanges.pdf

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