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

Nov 1, 2017

EPA Enforcement Action Signals Heightened RMP Oversight

Chemical Storage Sign

In August, EPA announced a Consent Order with ChemArt Company of Lincoln, Rhode Island to correct alleged violations of EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) under the Clean Air Act.  The Consent Order included a civil penalty of $221,326 and a supplemental environmental project (SEP) requiring ChemArt to reduce its stockpile of hazardous materials, including chlorine, and to update manufacturing equipment to reduce the likelihood and consequences of a release. In the waning days of the Obama Administration, EPA issued a final rule updating the RMP and imposing new requirements.  On June 14, the Trump Administration EPA issued a final rule… Read more

Oct 26, 2017

Federal Court in Rhode Island Invalidates Superfund Unilateral Administrative Order

Map: Centredale Manor Restoration Project Superfund Site in North Providence, Rhode Island

The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island has agreed with a PRP that portions of a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) for cleanup of the Centredale Manor Restoration Project Superfund Site in North Providence, Rhode Island were arbitrary and capricious.  Emhart Industries, Inc. v. New England Container Company, Inc., et al, (August 17, 2017).  Although normally, review of a UAO is confined to the administrative record, the Court agreed with a PRP that refused to comply with the UAO that expert testimony outside the administrative record should be considered.  After considering the outside expert testimony, the Court concluded… Read more

Oct 16, 2017

EPA Initial Rules Under TSCA Amendments Challenged in Court

Toxic Substances Control Act: BioHazard labels

EPA issued several final rules to implement the recent bipartisan amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) on June 22.  The final rules included regulations on how it will prioritize chemicals as either high or low priority for review, and how it will evaluate high priority chemicals.  Several lawsuits were filed challenging the rules.  The lawsuits were consolidated in the 4th and 9th Circuits Courts of Appeals.  A separate lawsuit was filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  One of the principal issues in the lawsuits will be the exclusion from EPA review of certain categories of uses of… Read more

Oct 2, 2017

States, Cities and Private Businesses Put U.S. Halfway to Paris Climate Accord Goal

Sustainable Earth & the Paris Climate Accord

According to a study released on September 25 by New Climate Institute and The Climate Group, efforts by states, cities and corporations to fight global warming have put the United States halfway toward its Paris Climate Accord goal even as President Donald Trump rolls back federal environmental efforts.  The efforts by public and private leaders have put Greenhouse gases on track to fall 12-14% below 2005 levels over the next eight years.  The study, which relied on data from the Carbon Disclosure Project, highlighted efforts by 22 states, 54 cities and 250 US-based businesses.  The study found that, in the… Read more

Sep 13, 2017

SGR Congratulates Client, Cox Enterprises for their Water Conservation Initiatives at Manheim Georgia

Water Conservation: Spigot and Water Drop Illustration

The Georgia Water Coalition’s inaugural Clean 13 Report highlights extraordinary efforts on the part of businesses, industries, local governments, non-profits organizations, and individuals to protect the water and natural resources of Georgia. “Around the state, businesses and communities are making a difference for clean water,” said Joe Cook, advocacy and communication coordinator with Coosa River Basin Initiative, a Georgia Water Coalition member organization. “These may seem like small projects, affecting just an isolated area, but together they add up to big improvements for our water and communities.” SGR’s client, Cox Enterprises is being recognized for its water conservation initiatives at Manheim… Read more

Aug 28, 2017

EPA Proposes Revisions to Environmental Site Assessments for Timber Property

Tractor hauling timber on forestland property

On June 20, 2017, EPA published notice of its intent to take direct final action to amend the Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries (“AAI”) to reference ASTM International’s recently revised E2247-16, Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property, and allow for its use to satisfy the statutory requirements for conducting AAI under CERCLA.  The proposed amendment would update and replace the current reference to the 2008 ASTM Standard, E2247-08, in the AAI rule found in 40 CFR 312.  The new rule was to become effective on September 18,… Read more

Aug 8, 2017

OSHRC Vacates OSHA Traffic Injury Citations Against JH Traffic Control

Think Safety First

Did you know that an employer must inform the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) within 24 hours after certain types of work-related injuries to an employee? In a recent ruling, Sec’y of Labor v. JH Traffic Control Co., LLC, an administrative law judge of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (“OSHRC”) upheld a $2,000 penalty against an employer for failing to notify OSHA of an accident involving one of its employees. On the evening of September 22, 2015, an employee of Boise, Idaho-based JH Traffic Control Co., LLC was seriously injured and hospitalized after being struck by… Read more

Jun 27, 2017

Ninth Circuit Invalidates Conditional Nanomaterial Pesticide Registration

Crop Duster Plane

In a ruling that could slow EPA’s approval of nanomaterial-based pesticides, the Ninth Circuit on May 30 invalidated EPA’s conditional approval of NSPW-L30SS, formerly known as Nanosilva. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) v. EPA (9th Cir., May 30, 2017). The Court found that EPA’s determination that use of nanosilver-based pesticides would result in lower overall silver emissions into the environment, and therefore was in the public interest, was faulty because it was based on two assumptions that lacked support—that current users of pesticides containing conventional silver would switch to the new pesticide, and that the new pesticide would not be used in… Read more

Jun 8, 2017

Now Is A Good Time To Read The Paris Climate Change Accord


Last week, the President announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord negotiated in 2015. The Paris Climate Accord was signed by 195 Parties and ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union. However, the accord was not ratified by Congress and therefore was not subject to the Constitution’s Treaty Clause (Art. I, § 2, cl. 2). Under the accord’s provisions, any party may withdraw from the Agreement under Article 28, following a three year period which falls on December 12, 2018.  The Paris Climate Accord provided that signatories provide a plan for carbon reduction by… Read more