Can an environmental organisation file suit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's citizen suit provision claiming harm from stormwater run-off which could be, but was not, subject to limits under a Clean Water Act permit? The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held that it could. The ruling is a portentous development at a time when environmental groups are actively seeking out litigation opportunities to enforce federal regulations.
The Ninth Circuit recently issued an opinion that reflected a limited interpretation of the scope of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's anti-duplication provision, which provides that the act must be construed to apply to or authorise state regulation of "any activity or substance" regulated under several other federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act.
A pair of new lawsuits claim that various government officials and agencies are violating youth plaintiffs' constitutional rights due to a failure to combat climate change sufficiently. The first case is against the state of Alaska, its governor and various other state officials and agencies. The second case alleges that specific Trump administration actions violated the plaintiffs' due process and public trust doctrine rights.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a directive intended to strengthen and improve membership on the agency's advisory committees. The directive calls for the EPA to apply the following principles in setting membership on its advisory committees: strengthen member independence; increase state, tribal and local government participation; enhance geographic diversity; and promote fresh perspectives.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a set of consumer protection principles designed to protect consumer interests in the market for services built around consumer-approved use of financial information. The principles are targeted at so-called 'data aggregation' or 'screen scraping' services that collect customer information in order to provide financial planning or other services.
California recently passed two bills with significant implications for pharmaceutical manufacturers: one imposing prescription drug price transparency requirements and another prohibiting certain types of co-pay coupon and other prescription drug discounting programmes that lower patient cost-sharing amounts for prescription drugs.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued two notices of data availability in support of its proposed stays of various portions of the 2016 New Source Performance Standards for the oil and gas industry (known as the 'Quad Oa' rule). The notices include a proposed two-year stay of the Quad Oa requirements and a proposed three-month stay to run during the gap between the publication and effective dates of the two-year stay.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final rule addressing which areas of the United States are in attainment of the 2015 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The agency found that 2,646 of the over 3,100 counties in the United States are in attainment of the ozone NAAQS. The EPA will continue to review the designation of the remaining counties.
In a recent opinion the US District Court of the District of Massachusetts partly dismissed an environmental group's challenge to a Boston Harbour terminal's stormwater permit, which claimed that the permit fails to protect the group's members from future harm caused by climate change. The court held that alleged injuries which would not occur until 2050 or 2100, as alleged in the complaint, could not be considered imminent and therefore dismissed the claim based on future effects.
The Fifth Circuit recently affirmed summary judgment for a pharmaceuticals manufacturer on allegations that the company had violated the False Claims Act as a result of off-label marketing efforts and kickbacks to physicians. In its decision, the court emphasised the relators' failure to demonstrate a causal link between the alleged improper conduct and any false claims.
The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) recently released a notice seeking public input regarding how to revise the Volcker Rule. The notice cites a report released by the US Treasury Department, which included recommendations for significant changes to the rule. Although the OCC did not propose specific changes to the rule in its notice, it stated that the information that it is soliciting could support the revisions to the final rule advanced in the Treasury report and elsewhere.
The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently dismissed the False Claims Act claims brought by the federal government and two state governments based on allegations that Par Pharmaceuticals had orchestrated an unlawful prescription-switching scheme. While the judge acknowledged that Par may have conspired to increase its own profits, it rejected the federal and state governments' claims due to their failure to allege the submission of any claims that actually were false.
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit recently vacated and remanded a Natural Gas Act Section 7 certificate of public convenience and necessity granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The ground to vacate and remand the certificate was FERC's failure under the National Environmental Policy Act to adequately discuss the downstream effects of carbon emissions from natural gas transported through the pipelines in the project's environmental impact statement.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently took historic action under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The new rules will almost immediately affect chemical manufacturers and those who use products that contain chemicals. All companies that manufacture, use, process, import, export or sell products containing chemicals must understand the new regulatory regime and the new obligations and hurdles that it presents.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued proposed amendments to its final rule to expand existing consumer protections for electronic fund transfers to pre-paid accounts. Among other things, the proposal would modify the final rule to exempt pre-paid account issuers from the error resolution and limitation of liability provisions with respect to unregistered cardholders and provide more flexibility to issuers of digital wallet accounts that are covered by the final rule.
The Treasury Department recently released its long-awaited report to reform the US financial system. The report includes dozens of recommendations to reform laws, treaties, regulations, guidance, reporting and recordkeeping requirements and other government policies that inhibit federal regulation of the financial system in a manner consistent with the set of core principles enunciated by President Trump in Executive Order 13772.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently issued a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to supplement its 2013 bulletin on third-party relationship risk management. The FAQs affirm the bulletin's broad applicability, while re-emphasising the need for third-party relationship oversight to be risk based and tailored to individual institutions' needs and delving into several more detailed compliance questions.
President Trump recently followed through on one of his signature campaign promises and announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. This fits firmly within the new administration's agenda to promote domestic fossil fuel development. There has been speculation that some signatories may attempt to use trade, such as a tariff on the carbon content of US exports, to take a tougher stance with the United States, which could result in additional costs for US businesses.
Recent environmental law developments include the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's granting of the Environmental Protection Agency's request to indefinitely hold litigation in abeyance concerning the June 2016 new source performance standards for the oil and natural gas sector while the agency re-evaluates the rule. In addition, New York state recently released its Methane Reduction Plan, a collaborative effort by five state agencies.
A bipartisan group of senators recently introduced Section 870 of the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act, which reflects proposals to extend home healthcare, expand benefits for chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries and direct the Government Accountability Office to issue reports, among other things.