Environmental

  • April 21, 2017

    Volkswagen Ordered To Pay $2.8B In Criminal Fines

    A Michigan federal judge on Friday ordered Volkswagen AG to pay a $2.8 billion criminal fine for cheating emissions standards, six weeks after the German automaker formally pled guilty to three criminal charges stemming from the scandal.

  • April 21, 2017

    EU Ends Biofuel Price-Fix Case As Benchmark Probe Goes On

    The European Commission closed an investigation into alleged price-fixing by several ethanol companies due to a lack of "community interest," a spokesperson confirmed Thursday, but said a probe into possible industry benchmark manipulation by a trio of ethanol producers is still in progress.

  • April 21, 2017

    Trump, Calif. Poised For Energy And Climate Policy War

    With President Donald Trump embracing fossil fuels and California going all-in on fighting climate change and promoting clean energy, courtroom clashes between the federal government and the Golden State are inevitable. Here, attorneys identify four potential energy-related battlegrounds to keep an eye on.

  • April 20, 2017

    Enviros Lodge 1st CRA Challenge Over Nixed Wildlife Rule

    An environmental group sued the federal government Thursday for pulling back protections for certain Alaskan wildlife in what the organization says is the first constitutional challenge of its kind to the Congressional Review Act.

  • April 20, 2017

    Kinder Morgan Gets CWA Pipeline Spill Allegations Tossed

    A South Carolina federal judge on Thursday dismissed a suit against a Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP subsidiary involving a spill of hundreds of thousands of gallons of petroleum products on private property, deciding there wasn’t sufficient evidence to sustain environmental groups’ Clean Water Act claims.

  • April 20, 2017

    Dems Seek Documents On Potential Energy Policy Changes

    Top Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee asked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday for copies of reports compiled after President Donald Trump ordered the review and possible suspension of regulations that may burden domestic energy development, with the lawmakers citing a need for proper oversight into “potentially massive” policy changes.

  • April 20, 2017

    Tribunal Acknowledges Error In Costa Rica Real Estate Award

    An arbitration initiated by U.S. real estate investors who claim Costa Rica improperly took over their land for a national park has taken a left turn after the tribunal acknowledged an “error or omission of a factual nature” in an award issued last fall dismissing much of the dispute.

  • April 20, 2017

    Calif. Truck-Filter Rule Suit In Proper Forum, 9th Circ. Hears

    A group of independent truckers told a Ninth Circuit panel Wednesday that their suit, which claims the California Air Resources Board is unconstitutionally requiring all commercial trucks driving through the state to have engine particulate filters, was properly filed in federal district court and should not have been dismissed.

  • April 20, 2017

    Renewable Energy Co. Misled Over 2016 Revenues, Suit Says

    A proposed class of Amyris Inc. investors alleged in a California federal suit Thursday that the renewable energy company had failed to tell shareholders it accepted a stake in a company instead of a cash payment, causing it to miss a revenue estimate by $10 million.

  • April 20, 2017

    Bankruptcy Judge Turns Down SunEdison Discovery Bid

    A New York bankruptcy judge Thursday denied a request by solar power company SunEdison Inc. for a round of discovery to investigate claims that it and its clean energy yieldcos owe $231 million under a 2014 wind energy deal, saying it appeared to be an “end-run” around the discovery process in the state case.

  • April 20, 2017

    Activists Hit BLM Over Energy Leases In Colo. Nat’l Forest

    The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday was slapped with an environmental suit in Colorado federal court, after the agency extended 25 oil and gas leases in White River National Forest, allegedly putting the land at continued risk of development.

  • April 20, 2017

    Baker Donelson Adds Energy Litigator To Houston Office

    Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC has hired a litigation attorney with extensive experience in the energy sector as a shareholder in its Houston office, where he will be part of the firm’s business litigation group.

  • April 20, 2017

    Judge In Endangered Fish Lawsuit Lifts Hold On Montana Dam

    A Montana federal judge on Wednesday gave the government the go-ahead to build a new dam on the Yellowstone River, which will provide water for farmers but allegedly threaten the well-being of a critically endangered fish, after previously putting the project on pause until it saw a proper environmental review.

  • April 20, 2017

    Ore. Wind Project Blocked Over Sage-Grouse Concerns

    An Oregon federal judge on Tuesday revoked the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s approval of a wind farm in the state, saying the agency failed to properly consider the project’s effects on the greater sage-grouse that live in the area.

  • April 20, 2017

    Ariz. Highway Foes Push 9th Circ. To Nix Gov't Win

    Environmental, community and tribal advocates continued to press the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday to overturn a ruling that the Federal Highway Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation cut no corners on environmental reviews when approving a Phoenix-area road project.

  • April 20, 2017

    Macquarie, Others Drop $2.95B On UK Green Bank

    Macquarie Group Ltd. said Thursday it and other investors will buy UK Green Investment Bank PLC from the British government for £2.3 billion ($2.95 billion), despite concerns that a sale to the Australian financial services firm could result in the environmental investment bank having its assets stripped.

  • April 20, 2017

    Don't Delay Effluent Rule Case For EPA Review, Enviros Say

    Environmental groups asked the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday not to grant the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's request to hold in abeyance a challenge to an Obama-era rule that set limits on how much toxic metal can be discharged in wastewater from power plants.

  • April 20, 2017

    Conservation Groups Push For ESA Protections For Giraffes

    Dramatic population declines mean giraffes deserve to be protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, five conservation groups told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday.

  • April 20, 2017

    Conservationists Look To Block USFS Project In Montana

    A pair of conservation groups asked a Montana federal judge on Wednesday to block the U.S. Forest Service from launching a project that involves logging and prescribed burning in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, which they claim will threaten grizzly bears, lynx and elk in the area.

  • April 20, 2017

    2nd Circ. Tosses Tronox Tort Plaintiffs' No-Suit Order Appeal

    The Second Circuit on Thursday ruled it has no jurisdiction to decide if 4,300 people are barred by an anti-suit injunction — part of the $5 billion Tronox bankruptcy settlement — from suing former Tronox parent Kerr-McGee Corp. for injuries they blame on toxic emissions from a Pennsylvania industrial plant.

Expert Analysis

  • When Renewable Energy Is An 'Aesthetic Nuisance'

    Walter Wright

    In Myrick v. Peck Electric Co., the Supreme Court of Vermont recently held that a nuisance claim filed over a solar energy array based on aesthetic concerns had no merit. As renewable energy facilities proliferate, potential litigants on both sides should understand the laws around nuisance claims against such installations, says Walter Wright of Mitchell Williams.

  • Series

    Advocate For An Agency: Ex-DOT GC Kathryn Thompson

    Kathryn Thomson

    As general counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation from 2013 to 2017, Kathryn Thomson was the chief legal officer for a department of 55,000 employees, with an annual budget of $78 billion and nine individual operating agencies. In this article, she considers the challenges and rewards of serving as the DOT's GC during a time of major changes to the transportation landscape.

  • Series

    Advocate For An Agency: Ex-FERC GC Cynthia Marlette

    Cynthia Marlette.jpg

    Cynthia Marlette, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's general counsel from 2001 to 2005 and from 2007 to 2009, reflects on how she addressed the job's many responsibilities, including advising the commission on laws and enforcement actions, developing policy, seeking consensus among commissioners, and overseeing defense of agency actions in court, as well as dealing with historic events like the California energy crisis.

  • EU Endocrine Disruptor Fights Could Lead To US Litigation

    David Schwartz.jpg

    A battle is raging in the European Union over the regulatory status of endocrine disrupting substances. This debate could have dramatic implications for U.S. litigation over personal care products, food, household cleaners, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceutical products and other substances. Relevant product manufacturers must be ready for the coming onslaught, says David Schwartz of Innovative Science Solutions LLC.

  • Are Your In-House Lawyers Happy?

    Aric Press

    What is the mood of the nation’s in-house lawyers? Aric Press — a partner at Bernero & Press LLC and former editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer — shares the findings of a recent survey of more than 800 in-house counsel.

  • In Congress: Light Floor Schedule, Heavy On Committees

    Richard Hertling

    Republican leadership in the House and Senate will need to refocus their efforts this week, after a failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The lead-up to the canceled vote last week highlighted the divisions within the Republican conference, say Richard Hertling and Kaitlyn McClure of Covington & Burling LLP.

  • Trump's Skinny EPA Budget Could Have Far-Reaching Impacts

    Jim W. Rubin

    A review of President Donald Trump's recent budget proposal suggests that none of his goals for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would be well-served. In fact, the EPA, states, tribes and other federal agencies would all face serious issues in protecting human health and the environment, says Jim Rubin of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

  • How Past And Present Aerial Photography Can Make The Case

    David Ruiz

    Many cases hinge on visual evidence. And aerial photography can play a key role, showing how geographic features or buildings looked in the past or have changed over time. Legal teams should be aware of the aerial photography resources available and the impact technological advances in the field may have on helping prove their case, says David Ruiz of Quantum Spatial Inc.

  • Google, NASA, Planes And A Stronger Legal Team

    Nicholas Cheolas

    Why did minor mechanical issues bring down two airplanes, while a catastrophic engine explosion did not bring down a third? The answers lie, in part, in research conducted by NASA in the wake of those crashes and, more recently, by Google. And those answers can help organizations build better teams to meet today’s legal industry challenges, says Nicholas Cheolas of Zelle LLP.

  • Acquiring Midstream Assets And Gas Agreements: Part 2

    Greg Krafka

    Because the value of natural gas gathering systems, processing plants and related midstream assets depends on fees to be paid under associated gas gathering and processing agreements, terms and conditions of these agreements — with respect to acreage dedication, well connections, covenants running with the land, and other matters — must be scrutinized before asset purchases, say Greg Krafka and Jim Strawn of Winstead PC.