Bayer will pay more than $10 billion to end tens of thousands of lawsuits filed over its Roundup weedkiller, the company announced this Wednesday. The settlement also includes some $820 million in payments over claims that Monsanto, which Bayer bought in 2018, polluted public waters with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and up to $400 million to resolve litigation over the herbicide dicamba. As part of the PCB settlement, Bayer will pay $650 million to resolve lawsuits filed by local governments, including Los Angeles County and the City of San Diego and $170 million to the attorneys-general of New Mexico, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The Roundup settlement does not cover three cases that have already gone to trial and that will continue through the appeals process.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak this Monday announced that his state plans to adopt California’s car pollution rules, joining more than a dozen other states and pushing back against the federal government’s weakening of fuel efficiency standards. The announcement comes about three months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Transportation Department released new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, rolling back more ambitious requirements put in place in 2012. To date, 14 states and the District of Columbia have adopted California’s tailpipe emission standards, a group that accounts for more than 40 percent of U.S. vehicle sales. In 2019, the EPA revoked California’s authority to set tougher fuel efficiency standards. The state, and nearly two dozen others, sued the administration over the decision — a dispute that could eventually land at the U.S. Supreme Court.
A new study, which examined microplastics in national parks across the West, suggests that these mostly invisible particles are drifting high in the atmosphere and dropping out with wind and rain, sometimes thousands of miles from their source. The study comes as government regulators struggle to get a handle on the dispersal of plastic waste. Last Tuesday, California’s Water Resources Control Board became the nation’s first government agency to define microplastics for water regulation, detailing its size and composition. The Water Board's decision is a step towards monitoring microplastics in the state’s rivers, lakes and bays, and perhaps eventually regulating the contaminant in drinking water.
A coalition of tribal governments, environmentalists, and labor advocates filed lawsuits this week to stop implementation of a new federal rule that weakens protections for streams and wetlands. The EPA’s new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which took effect this Monday, sets aside protections for intermittent and ephemeral streams by eliminating them from the Clean Water Act's "waters of the United States" designation. The plaintiffs assert that the new rule will exclude the vast majority of Arizona's waterways from the Clean Water Act's protections. The litigation follows two decisions last week in which one federal court rejected a request by 17 states to block the Trump administration's new rule and another court issued a stay in Colorado. Seventeen states, from California to Maryland, sued the Trump administration earlier this year to challenge what they call an illegal assault on the Clean Water Act. Arizona did not join the case.
Native American tribes’ water rights at the Klamath River received another boost this Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit guaranteeing that tribes can reserve enough water in the river to protect fish populations. Farmers who divert water from the river for agricultural purposes sued the federal government in 2001, challenging the notion that tribes have senior rights over the river water. Late last year, an appeals court upheld a decision rejecting the farmers’ claim. The lawsuit, Baley v. United States, dates back to 2001, when water districts and farmers around the Klamath sued to receive compensation for reduced water deliveries during a drought year. In the years that followed, the Hoopa and Klamath tribes fought back, saying they needed to be guaranteed enough water by the federal government to preserve their fish supply.