Jenner & Block LLP

Jenner & Block Wins Motion to Dismiss In Alleged Pipeline Leak Federal Lawsuit

Essig_Genevieve_COLOR By Genevieve J. Essig

A Jenner & Block team including Partner Gabrielle Sigel and Associate Alexander Bandza of the Firm’s Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety group, supported by Partner Jessica Ring Amunson and Associate Amir Ali of the Firm’s Washington, D.C. office, won a significant victory in federal court environmental and pipeline litigation on behalf of clients Apex Oil Co., Inc. and Petroleum Fuel & Terminal Co. (PF&T).  Apex and PF&T are defendants in a cost recovery and injunction action brought against them by Chevron U.S.A. Inc. in the U.S. District Court for Maryland.  Chevron’s lawsuit concerns a pipeline that PF&T purchased from Chevron in 1994.  Chevron has claimed more than $30mm in damages for costs of remediating pollution allegedly caused by discharges from the pipeline over the course of approximately 20 years.

Continue reading "Jenner & Block Wins Motion to Dismiss In Alleged Pipeline Leak Federal Lawsuit" »

Nominate Corporate Environmental Lawyer for the ABA Journal’s 2015 Blawg 100!

Thank you very much for your support of our blog, Corporate Environmental Lawyer, over the past five years.  We hope that you have found our efforts to bring you updates and insights on critical environmental, health & safety developments to be helpful and informative.  Highlights this year include a revamp of the blog featuring a new look and responsive format for better access on mobile devices and a week-long special Earth Day series.

If you enjoy reading our blog and/or follow our blog on Twitter, please consider nominating it for inclusion on the American Bar Association Journal’s annual list of the 100 best legal blogs (“blawgs”), the Blawg 100.  The nomination process is simple and takes less than five minutes:

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The deadline for nominations is Friday, August 16, 2015.  We appreciate your support of the Corporate Environmental Lawyer


Stephen Armstrong to Moderate Panel at 16th National Brownfields Training Conference

Essig_Genevieve_COLOR By Genevieve J. Essig

On September 3, 2015, Stephen Armstrong will moderate a mid-day panel titled “New Approaches to Marketing and Redeveloping Surplus Properties” at the 16th National Brownfields Training Conference, to be held at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave., from September 2-4. The panel description provides:

Continue reading "Stephen Armstrong to Moderate Panel at 16th National Brownfields Training Conference" »

Corporate Environmental Lawyer celebrates five years of blogging with a new design!

In honor of the fifth anniversary of our entry into the blogosphere, we are excited to announce a major revamp of the Corporate Environmental Lawyer’s design. In addition to the blog’s sophisticated new look, our readers will enjoy:

  1. Mobile and tablet responsive technology
  2. A trending-categories cloud list
  3. Easy-to-use social sharing buttons
  4. Streamlined navigation menus

  5. Access to all five years of posts

In the five years since our Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety (EHS) practice created the Corporate Environmental Lawyer, we have written more than 500 posts, provided critical updates and insights on issues across the EHS legal sectors, and been ranked among LexisNexis’s top 50 blogs. As we wish to continue to grow the blog and provide our readers with the information they want to know, Corporate Environmental Lawyer editors, Steven M. Siros and Genevieve J. Essig, encourage you to participate by suggesting new topics.  We look forward to continuing to provide content covering the issues that are driving changes in environmental law.

EPA Lacks Authority to Regulate Plastic Microbeads in Water

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

Tiny microbeads are introduced everyday into waterways from many personal care products and over the counter drugs. The plastic microbeads (often made of polyethylene or polypropylene) are recent additions in facial scrubs, soaps, toothpastes and other personal care products as abrasives or exfoliants. A single product may contain as many as 350,000 of these nanoparticles. Last week, EPA’s Janet Goodwin, Chief of the EPA Office of Wastewater’s Technology and Statistics, confirmed again that EPA lacks regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act to  regulate consumer use of plastic microbeads entering wastewaters, despite growing concern over impacts to the environment.

According to Ms. Goodwin, most of the plastic microbeads that are found in wastewater effluent come from consumer use. The EPA only has authority to regulate plastic microbeads that enter wastewater from industry, either through effluent guidelines or pretreatment standards.

Continue reading "EPA Lacks Authority to Regulate Plastic Microbeads in Water" »

New Report Confirms Environmental Sustainability is Good Business

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

A new study released by Morgan Stanley confirms that investors appear to place a premium on sustainability yet believe that sustainable investments require some financial sacrifice. Two key findings include: 1) nearly three-quarters (72%) of those surveyed believe that companies with good environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices can achieve higher profitability and are better long-term investments; and 2) 54% believe that sustainable investing involves a financial trade off.

The study set out to analyze potential performance and risk differences between sustainable and traditional investments. A range of studies on sustainable investment performance were reviewed along with performance data for 10,228 open-ended mutual funds and 2,874 Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs) based in the U.S.  Through the review, Morgan Stanley concluded that investing in sustainability has usually met, and often exceeded, the performance of comparable traditional investments. Specific findings include:

  1. Sustainable equity mutual funds met or exceeded the median return of traditional equity funds for 64% of the time periods examined.
  2. Sustainable equity mutual funds also had equal or lower median volatility for 64% of the time periods examined.
  3. For the longest time period (seven years trailing, 2008-2014), sustainable equity mutual funds met or exceeded median returns for five out of six different equity classes examined (for example, large-cap growth).
  4. Long-term annual returns of the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index, which comprises firms scoring highly on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, exceeded the S&P 500 by 45 basis points between its inception in 1990 to the end of 2014.

The study was conducted by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. The Institute seeks to accelerate mainstream adoption of sustainable investing by developing industry-leading insights and scalable finance solutions to address global challenges.

Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015

Boike_Kristen_COLORBy Kristen M. Boike

 

President Obama signed the bipartisan Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 on April 30, 2015 (the “Act”), which encourages energy and water efficiency through a variety of measures.  Authored by U.S. Senators Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, Bill S. 535 was passed by the Senate on March 27, 2015 and by the House on April 21, 2015.

The Act is comprised of three separate sections: the Better Buildings Act of 2015, Grid-Enabled Water Heaters, and Energy Information for Commercial Buildings, and includes, among other things, the following:

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EPA Request for Public Comments on 1,4-Dioxane

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

On April 28, 2015, EPA announced the availability of a problem formulation and initial assessment document for the Work Plan Chemical 1,4-Dioxane and opened a 60-day public comment period until June 29. The notice also seeks input on EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics' (OPPT) initial concerns about the industrial solvent 1,4-Dioxane.

Following receipt of comments on the problem formulation and initial assessment document and consideration of any additional data or information received, EPA will initiate a risk assessment which is the process to estimate the nature and probability of adverse health and environmental effects in humans and ecological receptors from chemical contaminants that may be present in the environment.

Continue reading "EPA Request for Public Comments on 1,4-Dioxane" »

Earth Day 2015: Trivia — April 24 (Answers)

Essig_Genevieve_COLORBy Genevieve J. Essig

 

How did NASA astronaut Scott Kelly give the world some "perspective" on Earth Day this year?

Scott Kelly, who is spending a year aboard the International Space Station, posted his first "geography quiz" photo on Earth Day. He plans to tweet a photo taken from the station of an undisclosed location on the planet every Wednesday and invite viewers to guess what it depicts.  Follow him @StationCDRKelly.


Earth Day 2015 Campaign—Earth Day Celebrations: Earth Day Texas 2015

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza Jenner & Block Earth Day 2015

 

Today marks the start of Earth Day Texas, an annual, three-day festival held in Dallas’s Fair Park that seeks to elevate environmental awareness and influence the way Texans think, live, and work.  This is the five-year anniversary of the Earth Day Texas organization. The festival features speakers, music, and interactive exhibits. Of interest is the “Eco-Expo,” the world’s largest exhibition dedicated to environmental stewardship, and the first-ever “Eco-Conference,” a day of programming specifically designed to engage business, civic, and community leaders in conversations about building a sustainable future.

For more information, visit the website here.

Earth Day 2015: New U.S. Treasury Paper Builds on Momentum for Public-Private Partnerships to Address Public Infrastructure Shortfalls

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza

 

The problem of aging public infrastructure in the U.S. and around the world is well recognized.  For example, U.S. businesses pay $27 billion in additional freight costs because of the poor conditions of roads and other transportation infrastructure. Water systems continue to deteriorate throughout the United States, resulting in approximately 240,000 water main breaks each year with associated property damage and repair costs.  The increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events associated with climate change puts additional strain on public infrastructure.  To address these challenges, President Obama has been particularly active in this area.  He launched his Build America Investment Initiative in July 2014, and, earlier this year, he proposed Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds, among other ideas, to spur investment in public infrastructure.

Building on this momentum, on Earth Day this year, the U.S. Treasury released a White Paper titled “Expanding the Market for Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships: Alternative Risk and Profit Sharing Approaches to Align Sponsor and Investor Interests.”  The paper presents three incentive structures for public-private partnership contracts that can potentially benefit both public sector sponsors, by delivering higher quality per dollar, and private investors, by generating attractive returns.  The paper also includes an overview on public-private partnership deals closed between April 2012 and April 2015, along with their incentive structure.

A lot of the exciting action on public-private partnerships to address public infrastructure shortfalls continues to happen at the city level, with significant assistance from social entrepreneurs and foundations.  For example, the RE.invest Initiative, backed by re:focus partners, is a unique collaboration among eight partner cities and engineering, law, and finance firms to create new public-private partnerships for resilient infrastructure.  It recently released its report, “A Roadmap for Resilience,” which details the collaboration and provides recommendations for government officials, developers, financiers, and communities engaged in investing in resilience and reinvesting in communities.  Another city-focused effort is 100 Resilient Cities, backed by the Rockefeller Foundation.  Cities selected for the program receive funding to hire a Chief Resilience Officer; assistance in developing a resilience strategy; and access to a platform of innovative private and public sector tools to help design and implement that strategy.


Earth Day 2015: Trivia — April 23 (Answers)

Essig_Genevieve_COLORBy Genevieve J. Essig

 

1. Alphabetically, what are the second three states with OSHA-approved State Plans? Connecticut, Hawaii, and Illinois. See the full list here.

2. The following provision is known as what?

"Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."

The General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970).


Earth Day 2015: Earth Day Celebrations — Earthday Vietnam 2015

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza Jenner & Block Earth Day 2015

 

This past weekend in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City hosted only its second “Earthday Vietnam” event, following the country's first-ever event last year. The theme for this year’s event was “More Exercises, More Eco-Friendly,” which was meant to inspire the public to be more motivated and to pick up wholesome hobbies. The day featured activities like the “Green Run,” where runners dodged obstacles made from recycled materials like old tires, and the “Crazy Dance,” a flash mob featuring thousands of participants.

A press release and photos of the event are available here.


Earth Day 2015: Safer Chemicals: Protecting Employees and the Earth at the Same Time

Kenney_Anne_COLORBy Andi S. Kenney

 

Chemicals, natural and synthetic, are all around us.  We can’t live life without them--and we wouldn’t want to.  But some chemicals are toxic to humans and the flora and fauna with which we share the earth.   Replacing toxic substances found in the workplace, distributed in commerce and contained in wastes with less harmful materials protects employees, consumers and the environment at the same time.  Safe Chemical and Green Chemistry initiatives seek to do just that.

OSHA estimates that each year more than 190,000 employees become ill and 50,000 die as a result of chemical exposures.  Environmental and health and safety regulations restrict only a small percentage of the chemicals in use.  Active chemical management systems designed to minimize or eliminate chemical hazards by finding safer alternatives can have a significant impact on employee health.  Employers have often found that switching to safer chemicals reduces costs by reducing employee absences, medical expenses, disposal costs, and sometimes material costs.  Additional benefits often include greater efficiencies and/or performance, improved employee morale and the benefits associated with being an industry leader and socially responsible employer.

OSHA has developed a tool kit to help employers interested in transitioning to safer chemicals.  The tool kit outlines a seven step approach to understanding the chemicals being used in the workplace and finding and evaluating opportunities for improvements. It also includes a number of links to additional useful information.  The tool kit can be found here.

Removing harmful chemicals from the workplace reduces the presence of harmful chemicals on our jobsite, on our roads, rails and waterways, in our products and ultimately in our landfills—a win for everyone and the environment.


Earth Day 2015: Trivia — April 23

Essig_Genevieve_COLORBy Genevieve J. Essig

 

1. Alphabetically, what are the second three states with OSHA-approved State Plans?

2. The following provision is known as what?

"Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."

Please submit your answer to me at gessig@jenner.com and indicate whether you would mind us sharing your name in a later post, should you be the first correct responder.


Earth Day 2015: Trivia — April 22 (Answers)

Essig_Genevieve_COLORBy Genevieve J. Essig

 

1. What region of the U.S. has the greatest number of landfill facilities? According to U.S. EPA's latest Municipal Solid Waste Characterization Report (2012), the West region has the greatest number of landfill facilities: 718.  The South is next, with 668; then the Midwest, with 394; then the Northeast, with 128.

2. What is the term used to describe the solid material added to hydraulic fracturing fluid to keep new fractures open? Proppant.  Sand is often used for this purpose.


Earth Day 2015: Earth Day Celebrations — NASA #NoPlaceLikeHome Social Media Event

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza Jenner & Block Earth Day 2015

 

NASA is encouraging people all over the world to step outside and celebrate environmental awareness through social media. The event follows in the footsteps of last year’s #globalselfie social media event. This year, NASA is asking people from around the world to share photos or videos of their favorite places or sights on Earth and post these images to Twitter, Instagram, Vine, or Google+ using the hashtag #NoPlaceLikeHome, or to the event groups on Facebook and Flickr.

NASA says that after Earth Day, it will compile a video that includes some of the best posts throughout the day. For details on how to participate, visit the website here.


Earth Day 2015: DOT, FRA, PHMSA Take Additional Steps to Improve Rail Hazmat Safety

Essig_Genevieve_COLORBy Genevieve J. Essig

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), along with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), recently took additional steps in their action plan to improve safety with respect to transportation of flammable liquids, including crude oil, by rail.  These steps consisted of several main actions:

  • PHMSA Safety Advisory reminding hazardous materials shippers and carriers of “their responsibility to ensure that current, accurate and timely emergency response information is immediately available to emergency response officials for shipments of hazardous materials, and such information is maintained on a regular basis.”
  • PHMSA and FRA Safety Advisory reminding railroads operating a “high hazard flammable train” (HHFT) and offerors of Class 3 flammable liquids transported on such trains that certain information may be required by PHMSA and/or FRA personnel in their investigation immediately following an accident.
  • FRA Emergency Order requiring that trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid through certain highly populated areas to adhere to a speed limit (40 mph).
  • FRA Safety Advisory making recommendations intended to enhance the mechanical safety of the cars in trains transporting large quantities of flammable liquids.  In particular, the advisory recommends that railroads use highly qualified individuals to conduct the brake and mechanical inspections and recommends a reduction to the impact threshold levels the industry currently uses for wayside detectors that measure wheel impacts to ensure the wheel integrity of tank cars in those trains.
  • FRA Notice and comment request to gather additional data concerning rail cars carrying petroleum crude oil in any train involved in an FRA reportable accident. 
  • FRA Acting Administrator letter to the president of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) seeking an additional voluntary commitment to ensure certain relevant information is available to FRA and emergency responders immediately following a HHFT derailment, including information related to the lading, tank cars, and trains involved.  The letter requests a meeting within 30 days to discuss development of a process to do so.

These materials reference the July 2013 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, as highlighting potential consequences of a railroad accident involving flammable liquids, as well as a number of other subsequent accidents in the U.S. involving trains transporting large quantities of crude oil and ethanol that resulted in hazardous material releases and fires – including three already in 2015.


Earth Day 2015: Trivia — April 21 (Answers)

Essig_Genevieve_COLORBy Genevieve J. Essig

 

Approximately what percentage of of the U.S.'s electricity demand is supplied by wind power? According to the U.S. Department of Energy's recent report Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, as of 2013, U.S. electricity demand served by wind energy had tripled from 1.5% of total end-use demand in 2008 to 4.5%.

Earth Day 2015: Earth Day Celebrations — Earth Day Tokyo 2015 Event

Bandza_Alexander_COLOR

By Alexander J. Bandza Jenner & Block Earth Day 2015

 

This past weekend in Japan, the annual “Earth Day Tokyo” took place in the city’s Yoyogi Park. The event, which began in 2001 and now attracts more than 100,000 visitors, claims to be the largest annual environmental event in Japan. Japanese charities, non-profit organizations, and eco-conscious businesses set up booths to meet visitors. The two-day event features speakers, art, and free music.

The official website is here (in Japanese), and an English website with photos of past events is here.


Earth Day 2015: Beach Clean Up!

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson Jenner & Block Earth Day 2015

 

On Friday, April 17th, Jenner & Block partnered with ComEd and Exelon to clean up the 12th Street beach at Northerly Island, in cooperation with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Our group picked up over 85 pounds of broken glass, plastic beverage containers, food wrappers, cigarettes, and other miscellaneous trash and debris.

The Adopt-a-Beach program is the premier volunteer initiative for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Teams remove litter and enter results into the Adopt-a-Beach online system to share with local beach authorities, educate the public, and improve the beaches and the health of the Great Lakes.

This picture shows our team after clean up efforts at 12th Street beach: 

Beach Day Cleanup

 

What will you do to celebrate Earth Day 2015? How about participating in the Adopt-a-Beach program?

To learn more about beach clean up opportunities or to schedule an event, visit http://www.greatlakes.org/.

A special thanks to our own Gay Sigel for organizing the Jenner & Block team. Thanks, Gay!

Earth Day 2015: Trivia — April 20 (Answers)

Essig_Genevieve_COLORBy Genevieve J. Essig

 

1. What recent environmental catastrophe in part inspired Gaylord Nelson to organize the first Earth Day in 1970? The first Earth Day followed closely on the heels of a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, in 1969.  It is considered one of the largest oil spills to have taken place in United States waters.

2. What United Nations decade-long initiative aims to promote efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015? The United Nations' International Decade for Action, "Water for Life," 2005-2015, was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution A/RES/58/217. More information and updates are available here

Congratulations to Brian Fitzgerald for being our first correct responder!