Jun 6, 2018

Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosures: Fodder for Class Action Lawsuits? 

Sweat Shop: Corporate Social Responsibility

Claims and investigations based on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) disclosures are becoming increasingly common in the U.S. and internationally. Numerous theories are advanced in claims asserted for allegedly untrue, misleading or incomplete reports and disclosures about a company’s social responsibility initiatives and accomplishments.  This article highlights a class action lawsuit in California now on appeal in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals related to disclosures under the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act 2010 (“CTSCA”). The case is an example of increased litigation potential arising from CSR reports and disclosures.  Companies making such reports and disclosures are encouraged to… Read more

Apr 18, 2018

EPA Posts Updated List of “Active” Chemical Substances

Active Chemical Substance

The Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory (“Inventory”) is a list of chemical substances manufactured (including imported) or processed in the United States. On April 12, 2018, EPA posted an updated version of the Inventory, designating nearly 31,000 chemicals on the public portion of the Inventory as “active” in U.S. commerce. TSCA regulation generally prohibits the manufacture, importation, or processing of “inactive” chemical substances. On June 22, 2016, Congress amended TSCA pursuant to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The amended TSCA initiated an “Inventory reset” process, which required EPA to designate chemical substances as “active”… Read more

Jan 30, 2018

U.S. EPA Targets Faster Cleanups for Superfund Sites in 2018

Superfund site cleanup

The U.S. EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, has set accelerated cleanup at Superfund sites as an Agency goal for 2018.  The Agency insists that the goal is achievable despite the proposed slashing of the program’s funding by 30% for fiscal year 2018.  In May of 2017, Pruitt directed a task force to study how to reshape the Program using the Agency’s current resources.  The report, which makes over 40 recommendations, recommends emphasizing the potential for Superfund sites to be redeveloped or reused and encouraging responsible parties to work with developers eager to redevelop the land.  Another proposed avenue to expedite cleanup… Read more

Jan 2, 2018

OSHA’s Silica Exposure Standard Upheld on Most Grounds

OSHA's Silica Exposure Standard

On Friday, December 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on challenges to OSHA’s new silica exposure standard, rejecting all challenges by industry and one of the challenges by labor unions, but finding that OSHA was arbitrary and capricious in failing to offer good reasons for not including “medical removal protection” allowing doctors to recommend removal of workers at risk from silica exposure. North America’s Building Trades Unions v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, case #16-1105, D.C. Cir. 12/22/2017. In its ruling, the D.C. Circuit also: Upheld the Silica Exposure Standard’s reduced Permissible Exposure… Read more

Sep 25, 2017

Power Plants Get Two-Year Reprieve from Parts of Wastewater Discharge Rule

Smoke Stacks and Coal Ash

Power plants will not have to meet new limits until 2020 for toxic wastewater that comes from using air pollution control systems and transporting bottom furnace ash.  The U.S. EPA announced that it was postponing by two years compliance dates that would be required for more than 1,000 power plants nationwide as it reconsiders how strictly it should limit those sources of wastewater.  The postponement applies to Obama-era limits on wastewater generated by transporting bottom ash from scrubber units to capture sulfur dioxide emissions from the burning of petroleum coke and coal.  Industry representatives have pushed for the extension of… Read more

Jun 20, 2017

Supreme Court Hands Chevron Victory In Ecuador Pollution Case

Oil Spill

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a certiorari petition seeking review of a decision that an $8.65 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron Corporation was unenforceable in the United States. In 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York blocked enforcement in the United States of an Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron. The District Court held, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals later affirmed, that the Ecuadorian judgment was the product of fraud and racketeering. American lawyer Steven Donziger and Ecuadorians had sought to impose liability on Chevron Corporation for contamination in Ecuador linked to Texaco Petroleum,… Read more

Jun 15, 2017

Toshiba Backs Vogtle Nuclear Project

Vogtle Nuclear Project

On June 9, Toshiba Corp. announced a $3.68 billion guarantee for the development of the Vogtle nuclear reactors. The guarantee is part of an agreement between Georgia Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Company, and Toshiba, the parent company of Vogtle contractor Westinghouse. Westinghouse was hired the primary contractor to build the Vogtle reactors, but filed for bankruptcy on March 29, 2017. The two Vogtle nuclear reactors in Georgia are co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities. According to a press release by Georgia Power, the agreement has been approved by the U.S. Department of Energy…. Read more

May 3, 2017

U.S. Wind Industry Has Biggest First-Quarter Installs In Eight Years

Wind Turbines

The U.S. wind industry had its strongest first quarter since 2009, adding nearly four times the capacity installed in the first quarter of 2016. Developers installed 908 utility-scale for a total of 2,000 megawatts of capacity. These installations coincide with the upcoming reduction in the value of federal Production Tax Credit for wind projects, which will drop by 20 percent each year for projects that start construction from 2017 through 2019. Xcel Energy Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s MidAmerican Energy, Alliant Energy Corp, and DTE Energy Co. were responsible for nearly all of the recent utility wind capacity additions. Top installation… Read more