A recent federal district court decision shows how a consent decree can provide protection to responsible parties under CERCLA by precluding later-filed tort claims seeking additional relief or different remedial action.
Continue Reading Federal Court Finds Tort Claims Preempted by CERCLA Consent Decree

On April 12, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a sweeping proposed ban on ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, the only form of asbestos known to still be imported into the United States. EPA’s proposed ban is the first risk management rule issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since the 2016 Lautenberg Act overhauled the statute to give EPA new powers to review and regulate existing chemicals.

Continue Reading EPA Proposes Ban of Chrysotile Asbestos in Historic TSCA Risk Management Rule

Last week, in Residents of Gordon Plaza, Inc. v. Cantrell, the Fifth Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc of a recent decision affirming the dismissal of a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) citizen suit. The key issue in the underlying appeal, 25 F.4th 288 (5th Cir. 2022), was whether certain maintenance activities qualify as a “removal” action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The court affirmed that the maintenance activities do indeed constitute a “removal action.” Therefore, the suit was barred under 42 U.S.C. § 6972(b)(2)(B)(iv), which precludes RCRA citizen suits where a “responsible party is diligently conducting a removal action” pursuant to a CERCLA consent decree with EPA.

Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Endorses Broad Reading of “Removal” Under CERCLA To Bar RCRA Citizen Suit

On December 29, the chemicals program at EPA closed out 2021 by proposing revisions to its risk determinations for the Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD), a solvent used as a flame retardant and wetting agent which has not been manufactured in the United States in nearly five years. In doing so, the Biden EPA made good on its June 2021 promise to revisit risk determinations previously made during the Trump Administration in accordance with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The draft “revisions” represent a significant shift from EPA’s prior approach to existing chemical risk evaluation and foreshadow increased regulatory and litigation risk for all companies—not just those whose operations may have historically involved HBCD.

Continue Reading Why EPA’s Announcement about a Chemical No Longer Manufactured is Big News for your Business

EPA hopes to issue its final National Recycling Strategy (NRS) this November, according to recent statements by acting director of EPA’s Resource Conservation and Sustainability Division, Office of Land and Emergency Management Nena Shaw at the American Bar Association’s Fall Conference. Previously, EPA indicated it intended to finalize the NRS in the spring of 2021 with an implementation roadmap out in the fall of 2021. To date, the agency has yet to release its final NRS.
Continue Reading Waste Not, Want Not: EPA’s Impending National Recycling Strategy

 On October 18, 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency launched its PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024 (“Roadmap”)[i] setting forth its “whole-of-agency” approach to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Roadmap sets forth timeframes for EPA actions to address PFAS across environmental media and under various statutory authorities including the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Clean Air Act (CAA). As such, EPA’s implementation of the Roadmap, including key initiatives rolled out in the days following its release, will affect a broad spectrum of industry sectors and facilities throughout the PFAS lifecycle who may face new and expanded regulatory requirements and obligations.
Continue Reading EPA Issues PFAS Strategic Roadmap Swiftly Followed by Other Key PFAS Announcements

In a dramatic announcement last week, EPA suggested that if companies import, manufacture, or process a finished good for commercial sale, and that product is not a pesticide, not a firearm, not a tobacco product, and not a food, food additive, drug, cosmetic, or device, they will need to know all chemicals contained in those products. We explain more about this below.

EPA has traditionally declined to extend most of its chemical regulations to finished goods, which are known as “articles” under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), on the grounds it would be enormously difficult for importers of complex consumer products to determine the chemical identity of each chemical substance in these products. Industry stakeholders have generally supported this approach and have long taken the position that supply chains are too complex to expect finished product manufacturers to be aware of all chemicals in those products.

Continue Reading EPA May Require Companies To Know All The Chemicals In Products They Make Or Sell

On August 30th, EPA granted the 2007 Petition from the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requesting that EPA revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances. This followed the Ninth Circuit order earlier this year for EPA to: “(1) grant the 2007 Petition; (2) issue a final regulation within 60 days following issuance of the mandate that either (a) revokes all chlorpyrifos tolerances or (b) modifies chlorpyrifos tolerances and simultaneously certifies that, with the tolerances so modified, the EPA “has determined that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information,” including for “infants and children”; and (3) modify or cancel related FIFRA registrations for food use in a timely fashion consistent with the requirements of 21 U.S.C. § 346a(a)(1).”

Continue Reading EPA Publishes a Final Rule Revoking All Tolerances for Chlorpyrifos, Impacting Raw Agricultural Commodities and Food Uses

The White House announced on July 22, 2021, President Biden’s nomination of David Uhlmann to be the Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Uhlmann is currently the director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program at the University of Michigan Law School and was previously a federal prosecutor for 17 years, including as the Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section of the US Department of Justice. His nomination signals the White House’s clear intent to reinvigorate EPA’s enforcement program after what the EPA’s Inspector General found in its March 31, 2020 report to be years of declining case statistics across multiple administrations.

Continue Reading Nominee to lead EPA Enforcement Will Be Aggressive and Thorough