Environmental Conflict of Laws

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Supreme Court's Petition Denial in Clean Air Act Pre-emption Case Reinforces Threat From Common Law Claims

The United States Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari earlier this month after the Iowa Supreme Court held in June that the plaintiffs' nuisance claims were not pre-empted by the Clean Air Act (CAA) in Freeman v....more

“Making CEQA A Federal Case? Recent Actions of California’s Supreme Court and the Federal Surface Transportation Board Set Up A...

Controversy has dogged the California high speed rail project since before its inception with the 2008 passage of Proposition 1A, the bond measure providing the project’s initial funding. The controversy has not abated in the...more

Surface Transportation Board Rules That ICCTA Preempts CEQA Review of California’s High-Speed Train System

On December 12, 2014, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued a decision, in response to a petition filed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority), finding that the Interstate Commerce Commission...more

High Speed Rail Moves Forward Without CEQA Review

The Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) issued a declaratory order in a 2-1 vote last Friday, finding that the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) is categorically preempted by federal law, as it relates to the...more

Fracking Preemption Fight to Play Out in San Benito County

It appears that San Benito County will be the venue for the much-anticipated legal battle over whether local jurisdictions in California can ban hydraulic fracturing. In early November, San Benito County passed a...more

Federal Preemption May Be The Key For Calif. Railroads

Railroad operators across the U.S. are seeing a bright future due to the resurgence in freight rail traffic. Intermodal (i.e., cargo container) shipping is booming. In 2013, intermodal volume on the major railroads totaled...more

Denton Becomes First Texas City to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 59 percent of voters elected to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing (“fracing”) in the city of Denton, which sits on top of the hydrocarbon-rich Barnett Shale. Although the ban does not...more

RE: Bakken Crude-by-Rail: Environmental Groups Ask New York State to Regulate DOT-111 Tank Cars

A recent state-law challenge by environmental groups to an aspect of crude-by-rail transportation has teed up the question of federal supremacy over railroad regulation. Because federal law generally preempts state regulation...more

Beveridge & Diamond Wins Preemption Decision in Washington State Court of Appeals

Appellate litigators in Beveridge & Diamond’s District of Columbia office, working with the Washington Department of Ecology, secured a unanimous decision from the Washington Court of Appeals striking down a county ban on...more

“Frac Free Denton” Faces Legal Fight

On November 4, 2014, Denton, Texas, became the first Texas city to vote to ban fracking within city limits, as covered by Reuters, the Star-Telegram, and The Wall Street Journal. The ballot initiative, which passed with just...more

Kentucky Federal Court Holds Tort Claims Not Preempted by Clean Air Act

State common law tort claims based on air emissions from a power plant are not preempted by the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), according to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The court agreed to...more

State Bar, Environmental Law Section Presents Update on Fracking Regulations

The California State Bar, Environmental Law Section hosts an annual conference which welcomes attorneys and students from across the state to learn and discuss cutting edge environmental law issues. This year’s Environmental...more

Update on the California High Speed Rail System

James Andrew, Assistant Chief Counsel for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”), spoke Tuesday, October 14, at the Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section Luncheon. He stated that High-Speed...more

Ballard Spahr Lawyers Turn Back Robinson Township Challenge to Waste-to-Energy Facility

Although some have suggested that Robinson Township, et al. v. Commonwealth, a 2013 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of a state law regulating the oil and gas industry, could impair...more

CERCLA Preempts Local Cleanup Bylaws; PRPs Everywhere Breath a Sigh of Relief

In an important decision yesterday, Judge Douglas Woodlock of the District of Massachusetts confirmed that CERCLA preempts local cleanup bylaws. The case involved one aspect of the cleanup of the W.R. Grace Superfund Site in...more

Third Circuit Affirms District Court Decision Invalidating New Jersey’s Long-Term Capacity Pilot Program

On September 11, 2014, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously affirmed an October 2013 decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that New Jersey’s Long-Term...more

Colorado State Court Strikes Down a Second City-Wide Fracking Ban

A Colorado state judge recently struck down a city’s voter-approved moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” This marks the second time a Colorado judge has quashed a city’s fracking ban within a matter of two...more

New Wave of State Law Air Pollution Torts?

The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Bell v. Cheswick could pave the way for more state common law air pollution tort suits and greater exposure for emitters. A new wave of state common law air pollution...more

California High Speed Rail Dodges Legal Bullet

In Town of Atherton v. CA High Speed Rail Authority, No. C070877 (Cal. Ct. App. 3d Dist., July 24, 2014), the Third Appellate District upheld the High-Speed Rail Authority’s (HSRA) Program Environmental Impact Report/ Program...more

Of High Speed Rails and Litigation Snails: The Train Rolls On As Third District Rejects Additional CEQA Challenges To High-Speed...

While CEQA actions are statutorily designed as special proceedings with priority over other civil actions, and thus mandated to be heard and resolved expeditiously, when complex or controversial projects with dedicated...more

Reviewing Courts' Approaches to State or Local Control of Hydraulic Fracturing

While many debates over hydraulic fracturing continue throughout the oil and gas industry, a growing number of state courts are addressing the "home rule" argument, or in this case, whether local governments within the state...more

Toxic Tort & Product Liability Quarterly Volume 7, Number 3

PREEMPTION - Supreme Court Says CERCLA Does Not Preempt Repose Defense for Tort Claims - The U.S. Supreme Court has put to rest a longstanding legal question affecting the deadline for plaintiffs to bring toxic tort...more

Supreme Court Says CERCLA Does Not Preempt Repose Defense for Tort Claims

The U.S. Supreme Court has put to rest a longstanding legal question affecting the deadline for plaintiffs to bring toxic tort and contamination claims stemming from certain contaminated sites. CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, No....more

New York Court of Appeals Upholds Local Fracking Bans

The New York Court of Appeals, in a 5-2 decision, held that the New York State Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (“OGSML”) does not preempt municipal zoning authority. The Court explained that land use regulation is among the...more

Oregon’s Statute of Repose May Block Common Law Environmental Claims

Oregon’s 10-year statute of repose may now play a bigger role in environmental lawsuits in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA),...more

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