Clean Air Act

December 18, 2013

EPA continues investigation of vapor intrusion in Riverside

Source:, December 15, 2013
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The Environmental Protection Agency will spend the next two months collecting air samples from homes in the Avondale community to determine how serious vapor intrusion is for those Riverside citizens.

But in the meantime, residents are worried about their health and property values.

The area of concern is bordered by Guernsey Dell Avenue, Minnesota Drive, Hypathia Avenue, Rohrer Boulevard and Valley Pike. There are about 130 residences in that neighborhood.

Vapor intrusion occurs when underground pollutants give off dangerous gases that can rise up through the soil and seep into buildings through foundation cracks and holes, causing unsafe indoor air pollution, according to the EPA.

The drinking water is not impacted by these site conditions, according to the EPA. The drinking water comes from the city of Dayton’s public water supply.

Steve Renninger, on-scene coordinator for the EPA’s Region 5 in Cincinnati, said it is possible the contamination extends beyond the initial area of concern.

“The data drives the decisions,” Renninger said. “If we start seeing elevated levels past in any direction, we’ll step it out another block until we see it subside.”

Kenneth Emmons, who lives with his parents at 2620 Bushnell Avenue, said since he and his fiancee moved in back in June, he regularly gets headaches and becomes nauseated.…

November 13, 2013

New pollution controls spark complaints in S.C.

Source: The State (SC), November 2, 2013
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State Attorney General Alan Wilson has revived criticism in South Carolina against new controls on greenhouse gas pollution, but his remarks this week drew a sharp response from one of the nation’s leading environmental groups.

John Walke, who tracks air issues for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Friday that Wilson is misleading the public in suggesting that businesses will have an undue burden complying with the greenhouse gas requirements. Walke said the rules will not affect most businesses, but a relatively small number of large factories and power plants — and only if they plan to expand.

This week, Wilson told a Gannett news reporter in Washington that the new federal rules “make it unbearable for businesses to grow their facilities because of the onerous regulations imposed by the” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He was not available Friday for further comment, but a spokesman said Wilson stands by his comments.

Walke, a South Carolina native, said the attorney general is trying to score political points.

“This is ideological grandstanding to blow this case up into something more than it is,” Walke said. “I’m from South Carolina so I recognize politicians’ (motivations).”

Wilson is among a handful of state attorneys general who have joined a lawsuit challenging the rules that would regulate greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.…

September 13, 2013

Interstate pollution: Smother my neighbour

Source: The Economist, September 7, 2013
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How much should upwind states care if their filth blows next door?

“ON SOME days even if we shut down the entire state, we would be in violation of some health standards because of pollution coming over from other states.” Thus the late Senator Frank Lautenberg griped about foul air blowing into New Jersey. For years, upwind states could dump part of the cost of pollution onto their neighbours, while reaping all the benefits of the factories that caused it. Though banned by the Clean Air Act, such smother-my-neighbour policies persist.

The Supreme Court may soon weigh in, however. It has accepted appeals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Lung Association concerning the agency’s 2011 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which controls interstate emissions that cause ozone and fine-particle pollution.

Under the law states are responsible for cleaning their own air. They must also reduce emissions that “contribute significantly” to another state’s dirty air. The CSAPR is the latest attempt to give teeth to this “good neighbour” requirement. The rule’s scope is vast, covering 28 eastern and midwestern states. Power plants there were found to emit too much sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, pollutants that can travel long distances and harm people.…

September 11, 2013

IL company violates clean air law

Read here about an Illinois sand company that has reached a settlement with the EPA over air pollution violations.


September 11, 2013

EPA: Safeway To Spend $4.7 Million To Resolve Pollution Allegations

Source: Dow Jones News Service, September 4, 2013
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Safeway Inc. (SWY) has agreed to pay a penalty of $600,000 and spend around $4.1 million to reduce its emissions of ozone-depleting substances and resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Air Act, U.S. officials said.

The supermarket company was accused of violating the antipollution law by failing to repair leaks of HCFC-22, a hydro- chlorofluorocarbon used as a coolant in refrigerators, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department said.

A representative from Safeway wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The company agreed to cut refrigerant leakage and emissions at 659 of its stores over the next three years.

“Fixing leaks, improving compliance and reducing emissions will make a real difference in protecting us from the dangers of ozone depletion, while reducing the impact on climate change,” said Cynthia Giles, of the EPA’s enforcement office.

U.S. officials said the settlement involves the largest number of facilities ever under the Clean Air Act’s regulations.

The Clean Air Act requires owners or operators of commercial refrigeration equipment to repair leaks promptly to avoid the emission of ozone-depleting chemicals. Safeway’s measures are expected to prevent over 100,000 pounds of future releases of refrigerants, which are also potent contributors to global warming.

Safeway operates stores under its own name and regional chains like Vons and Randalls.

Shares were trading up seven cents at $25.92 in recent trading, while the stock is up 43% since the start of the year.


September 3, 2013

MarkWest settles federal air pollution charges at Javelina plant

Source: Global Data Point, August 31, 2013
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MarkWest Energy Partners LP agreed to invest $650,000 to reduce flaring events at its Javelina gas processing plant in Corpus Christi, Tex., as part of a settlement of charges it violated the federal Clean Air Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced. The consent decree also requires the Denver gas midstream master limited partnership improve its community relations by installing a 24-hr hotline to answer questions about flaring events, and pay a $97,500 fine within 30 days, EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas said on Aug. 29. The settlement addresses violations EPA inspectors found at the plant from Sept. 1, 2012, to Jan. 30, 2013, it indicated. The Javelina plant processes and fractionates off-gas from six local refineries, according to information at MarkWest’s web site.


July 30, 2013

Ace: With M&A Uptick Comes Need to Review Environmental Liabilities

Source:, July 26, 2013
By: Anya Khalamayzer

The rate of global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) has seen a recent uptick, prompting a need for growing companies to review their global environmental liability strategies, says a report by ACE’s retail operations group.

2012 showed M&A growth, according to Mergermarket statistics, with the year’s first quarter topping three successive quarters of the highest M&A values experienced in the last five years.

“Certainly, for those companies with strong balance sheets, access to inexpensive debt and superior working capital management practices, M&A will remain a core part of their strategic growth priorities, both domestically and abroad,” says Seth Gillston, senior vice president of Ace Global Mergers & Acquisitions Industry Practice and co-author of the study. “Companies seeking a stronger foothold in emerging markets–particularly within those countries that have liberalized foreign ownership rules–will continue to pursue M&A as a means of entry. In doing so, they will confront compliance with a patchwork quilt of constantly shifting environmental laws and regulations.”

Risk management is crucial to transferring exposures from a target company’s previous activities, which may include pollution, contamination, mold, hazardous waste, and toxic chemicals in water, air, and on land- especially when it comes to acquiring industrial manufacturers.…

July 30, 2013

$104.7M well-contamination judgment against Exxon Mobil upheld

Source: Business Insurance, July 29, 2013
By: Judy Greenwald

A federal appellate court panel has upheld a $104.7 million judgment for New York City against Exxon Mobil Corp. for allegedly contaminating city-owned wells in Queens with a gasoline additive from the mid-1980s through the mid-2000s.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil said it plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Friday’s 117-page ruling by a unanimous panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in In Re: methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) products liability litigation, in October 2003, New York City sued Exxon and 28 other petroleum companies because of alleged injuries to its water supply from gasoline caused by the release of the chemical methyl tertiary butyl ether, the use of which New York state banned in 2004.

Treatment with the chemical “increased the oxygen content of gasoline and mitigated harm to air quality caused by automobile emissions, thereby furthering the goals of the Clean Air Act,” said the ruling. “Because of spillage and leakage for gasoline stored in underground tanks, however, MTBE-treated gasoline was released into the ground, contaminating groundwater supplies.”

Throughout the next year, the city amended its complaint to include 26 additional petroleum company defendants. All the defendants except Exxon Mobil settled before trial, according to the ruling.

2009 ruling

After an 11-week trial, in October 2009, a federal jury found Exxon liable for failure to warn, negligence, public nuisance and trespass, but acquitted it on liability on design defect and private nuisance charges.

The U.S. District Court entered a $104.7 million judgment against Exxon Mobil and its units. In appealing the court’s ruling, among other arguments, Exxon Mobil said the city’s common law claims are pre-empted by the federal Clean Air Act.


June 24, 2013

Ash Grove Cement agrees to pay $2.5 million fine

Source:, June 20, 2013
By: Kevin Collison

Ash Grove Cement has agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine and upgrade pollution controls at its plants in eight states, which should reduce its harmful atmospheric emissions by more than 17,000 tons a year, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

In a consent agreement announced this week, the Overland Park company said it will spend about $30 million in additional pollution controls at its nine Portland cement manufacturing plants, including facilities in Chanute, Kan., about 120 miles southwest of Kansas City, and Louisville, Neb., near Omaha.

In addition, the company has agreed to spend $750,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from several of its plants, close two older kilns at its Texas plant and spend $750,000 replacing old diesel truck engines at its plants in Kansas, Arkansas and Texas, according to the Justice Department.

“This significant settlement will achieve substantial reductions in air pollution from Ash Grove’s Portland cement manufacturing facilities and benefit the health of communities across the nation,” acting assistant attorney general Robert G. Dreher said in a statement.

Ash Grove officials said that while they believe their facilities comply with Clean Air Act and Environmental Protection Agency requirements, they reached the settlement to avoid continuing costly litigation with the federal government.

“The agreement with the EPA will allow Ash Grove to move forward and provide an environmentally sustainable product that is the foundation of our economy,” chairman and chief executive Charles T. Sunderland said in a statement.

The agreement is expected to take effect next month. The federal government has been joined in the settlement by Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Washington.

Federal officials say the pollution control improvements mandated by the agreement will remove thousands of tons of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that have been emitted by the Ash Grove plants. It also is expected to reduce the amount of particulate matter coming from the facilities.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.


June 14, 2013

5th Circuit holds policy covers EPA suit

Source:, May 30, 2013
By: Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP

In a coverage dispute based on underlying environmental litigation, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that Illinois Union Insurance Co. must defend Louisiana Generating LLC in an action brought by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

“Big Cajun II,” a coal-fired electric steam-generating plant owned by LaGen, was targeted by the EPA and Louisiana’s state equivalent for allegedly toxic emissions. The agencies filed suit seeking a variety of relief, including an order for LaGen to “remedy, mitigate, and offset the harm to public health and the environment” caused by the alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, the assessment of a civil penalty for each day in violation of the CAA, an order to mitigate emissions and an injunction to repair emission control equipment to comply with regulatory standards.

LaGen turned to Illinois Union to defend and pay liability, if any. The applicable state law was again an important consideration, and here the court applied New York law.

Analysis of the policy language at issue covered “Claims, remediation costs, and associated legal defense expenses… a result of a pollution condition.” The Fifth Circuit took great pains to match up the specific policy language at issue with its reading of New York law. The court determined that the policy covered remediation costs and nothing under New York law limited such coverage whether these costs were incurred voluntarily or as a result of a government demand. The insurance company further sought to apply an exclusion for fines and penalties, which the company argued was the context in which these costs were incurred. The court rejected that outcome, holding that the exclusion could not swallow up and nullify the clear grant of coverage for remediation costs.

To read the decision in Louisiana Generating LLC v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., click here.

Why it matters: What does a policy actually pay for? That is the question at the heart of the dispute in the 5th Circuit case, which again serves to remind policyholders to read the policy to understand the terms of coverage. The court’s opinion also emphasizes that under New York law, an insurer has a broad duty to defend and policyholders will be entitled to a full defense as long as some of the underlying allegations are covered by the terms of the policy. The policyholder must be armed with this understanding before it presses its demands for coverage.