New Jersey Appellate Court Blesses Municipal Court Review of Environmental Liability

Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP
Matthew A. Karmel

December 4, 2019

Reprinted with permission.  © 2019 Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP

While most people think of municipal courts as resolving motor vehicle tickets and minor property disputes, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP” or the “Department”) has been using the municipal court system for several years to enforce violations of laws and regulations relating to the investigation and remediation of contaminated sites in New Jersey pursuant to its “Municipal Ticketing Initiative.” (See our March 9, 2017 blog post titled “NJDEP to Expand Site Remediation Municipal Ticketing Initiative.”) However, some, including Alsol Corporation, have questioned whether a municipal court has jurisdiction to decide if an entity has violated environmental laws and, if so, to impose a penalty on the entity for such violation. In its recent decision, the Appellate Division gives its blessing to the Municipal Ticketing Initiative and determines that municipal courts have the power to adjudicate liability and enforce penalties pursuant to the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act and the Site Remediation Reform Act. See New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Alsol Corporation, __ N.J. Super __ (App. Div. 2019).

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Changes to PADEP’s Management of Fill Policy

Synergy Environmental, Inc.
Brian Loughnane, P.G

November 19, 2019

PADEP’s Management of Fill Policy is set to take effect on January 1, 2020 here are some thoughts from a Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Geologist

Land owners, real estate developers, excavation contractors, municipalities, environmental consultants and lenders need to take note of the upcoming changes that will be occurring with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP’s) Management of Fill Policy (Fill Policy).   On November 2, 2019 PADEP published a notice within the PA Bulletin that the new Management of Fill Policy has been finalized.  The policy is effective as of January 1, 2020.  Projects and activities throughout Pennsylvania that involve earth disturbance or excavation will be impacted by the new Fill Policy.

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PFAS Solution IN (or OUT) of the NDAA?

Greenberg Traurig LLP
Steven Barringer and Katie P. Reed

November 1, 2019

As legislative days dwindle, Congress is in a full sprint to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (related blog post), among several other must-pass bills. Controversial issues, such as border wall funding, military actions related to Iran, PFAS, among others, have bedeviled congressional negotiators since the Senate (S. 1790) and House (H.R. 2500) passed their bills in early summer. As Greenberg Traurig reported in July, H.R. 2500 would designate all PFAS (over 5,000 chemicals) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), but S. 1790 does not include similar language.

Both bills contain a variety of provisions addressing PFAS pollution, and there is common ground on most of them between the House and Senate packages, and more generally, broad agreement among Republicans and Democrats that legislation is necessary to address PFAS. However, the CERCLA listing is where consensus breaks down.

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SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments in Major Clean Water Act Case

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Scott C. Beightol, John A. Sheehan, Leah Hurtgen Ziemba and Samuel M. Mitchell

November 8, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court appeared divided following recent oral arguments on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 in a closely followed environmental case which will have major implications on the scope federal regulatory power under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

In County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, the justices are considering whether the CWA requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater. The outcome of Maui will have a significant impact on a wide-array of industries and private individuals by either subjecting millions of pollutant sources to the CWA’s permitting requirements for the first time or enshrining what environmentalists consider a loophole in the CWA. Although several justices seem to reject the county’s argument that the federal government should only regulate pollution direct from a point source, the justices appear divided as to the limits of such regulation.

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NJDEP Changes Policy for Applicability of the ISRA De Minimis Quantity Exemption

Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP
Alexa Richman-La Londe

November 6, 2019

Reprinted with permission.  © 2019 Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP

Certain business transactions involving property in New Jersey now risk facing expanded environmental obligations if the parties do not follow an administrative policy that has been quietly revised by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”). The environmental obligations at issue arise under the New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act (“ISRA”), which requires owners and/or operators of “industrial establishments” in New Jersey that cease operations or undergo a transfer of ownership or operational control to conduct an environmental review of and, if necessary, remediation of the industrial establishment prior to closing the transaction. However, ISRA allows those responsible for “industrial establishments” to avoid complying with the substantive requirements of ISRA as long as the establishment qualifies for a De Minimis Quantity Exemption (“DQE”). A DQE is available if an industrial establishment only has small (i.e., de minimis) amounts of hazardous materials present on site, and must be approved by the NJDEP based on an application submitted in connection with the transaction.

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The Wonderful Land Of OZ: An Overview Of Opportunity Zones

Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation
Aman Badyal

October 4, 2019

Opportunity Zones (or OZs) may be the most talked-about provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. There are many twists and turns on the yellow brick road to completing an OZ project. This article sets forth the underlying rationale of the OZ program, its principal tax benefits, an overview of the basic requirements for making an eligible investment, and certain common problems encountered by taxpayers seeking to take advantage of OZs. In particular, we emphasize the continued availability of the program even if you aren’t prepared to set off for the Emerald City right away.

Purpose of the Program

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EPA Seeks Public Input on Adding PFAS to the Toxic Release Inventory

Troutman Sanders LLP
Angela Levin, Randy E. Brogdon and Viktoriia De Las Casas

September 30, 2019

EPA’s first major action under its February 2019 comprehensive Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan (previously discussed in detail here) is out. On September 25, EPA sent a request for public input on whether EPA should add “certain PFAS chemicals” to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). EPA issues advance notices of proposed rulemaking to get a sense of public reaction before it initiates an important regulatory change, typically before it has conducted significant research or expended agency resources.

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Contaminants Of Emerging Concern And Environmental Due Diligence Issues

McLane Middleton, PA
Adam M. Dumville & Michael J. Quinn

October 8, 2019

This article was originally published in the New Hampshire Bar News, September 2019

Practitioners performing environmental due diligence have grown accustomed to the now routine use of Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments (ESA).  However, the adoption of new regulatory standards raises the possibility that standard ASTM-compliant ESAs may be insufficient to identify potential environmental risks. Specifically, so called contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), which include chemicals found in firefighting foam, water proof fabrics, pharmaceuticals, personal care goods and many more products have only very recently become regulated. However, CECs are not currently classified as “hazardous” under federal law, and therefore, are not regulated under the variety of environmental statutes and accordingly, are not assessed by standard Phase 1 ESAs.

The PFAS Issue

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Report Recommends Changes To US EPA’s General Permit For Industrial Stormwater Discharges Ahead Of Reissuance

Squire Patton Boggs LLP
Erik D. Lange

October 11, 2019

Stormwater permitting requirements for many industrial facilities are set forth in US EPA’s Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (MSGP) or state permits based on the MSGP. US EPA last issued the permit in 2015, which expires on June 4, 2020. While the current Administration does not appear to be predisposed to the implementation of more onerous environmental permitting requirements, an EPA-funded report has recommended transformative changes to the MSGP. The Agency’s decision whether to incorporate those recommendations into the reissuance of the MSGP will determine whether industrial facilities will need to implement additional stormwater monitoring and control measures in the coming years.

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Environmental Due Diligence: An Essential Step in M&A Transactions

Troutman Sanders LLP
Andrew J. Perel and M. Buck Dixon

September 1, 2019

This publication was originally published in the Troutman Sanders Law Blog

The risk of shortcutting environmental due diligence cannot be overstated. There is a tendency during mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions to view such due diligence as simply another box to check before closing. It is not. What might appear to be a time-consuming, costly and burdensome process, will not be fully appreciated until businesses are faced with the consequences of not doing so. 

This overview highlights several important benefits of proper environmental due diligence, discusses risk allocation and mitigation strategies, and identifies emerging issues.

Protect Your Investment

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