Georgia DNR Board Postpones Vote on CAFO Rules Changes

On November 18, the Board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources postponed a vote scheduled for December 3 on rules changes that, if approved, could expand the state’s hog industry by raising the threshold for stricter environmental controls on hog operations from 7,500 to 12,500 hogs per facility.

DNR indicated that the proposed rule changes would be subject to further review and study.

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Georgia DNR Board to Consider Increases to CAFO Permitting Thresholds

The board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources will consider changes to rules for permit requirements for swine feeding operations. The most significant change proposed is to increase the threshold for triggering the requirement to obtain a permit from Georgia EPD under the Georgia Water Quality Control Act.

Currently, a swine feeding operation is exempt from permitting if it manages less than 75,000 mature swine or 30,000 immature swine (less than 55 pounds).

The proposed rule would increase the permit threshold to 12,500 mature or 50,000 immature swine.

The proposed rule also changes permitting requirements for land application systems for the treatment and handling of liquid manure waste.

The proposed rule and commentary can be accessed here.

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

EPA Proposes NSPS for Power Plants

On September 20, EPA issued a proposed rule to restrict carbon emissions from new coal and gas-fired power plants. The restrictions are anticipated to require carbon capture and sequestration for any new coal-fired plants. EPA also has announced plans to issue a rule regulating carbon emissions from existing coal-fired plants in 2014.

EPA is proposing two standards for natural gas-fired plants: 1,000 lb CO2/MWh for larger units (>850 mmBtu/hr) and 1,100 lb CO2/MWh for smaller units (≤850 mmBtu/hr).

EPA is proposing two alternative limits for fossil fuel-fired plants: 1,100 lb CO2/MWh over a 12-operating month period, or 1,000-1,050 lb CO2/MWh over an 84-operating month (7-year) period.

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

EPA Mandates Electronic Filing for Toxic Release Inventory Reports

On August, 27, EPA published a final rule requiring electronic filing for facilities reporting chemical releases through the Toxics Release Inventory, beginning January 21, 2014. The rule is designed to ease the regulatory burden for making TRI filings and to save EPA costs associated with filing.

Twenty-six industry sectors are required to utilize the TRI system, including businesses in manufacturing, mining, utilities and hazardous waste treatment and processing. As in the past, trade secret information may be filed using alternate means and will be kept confidential by EPA under most circumstances.

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

EPA To Withdraw All Appropriate Inquiries Rule and Issue New Final Rule

EPA is poised to withdraw the direct final rule it published on August 15, which would have added a new ASTM standard for conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessments to the list of “all appropriate inquiries” that must be made to afford bona fide prospective purchasers protection from CERCLA liability.

Critics of the rule overwhelmingly said in public comments that the new ASTM standard is superior to the current standard, and that EPA should avoid creating a “two-tier” due diligence market by continuing to accept both standards. Commenters urge EPA to either continue to include only the current standard or to adopt the new standard only.

We will continue to monitor these developments and will report on the replacement rule when it becomes available.

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Georgia Court of Appeals Upholds Class Certification in Air Pollution Case

The Georgia Court of Appeals,  on July 16, issued its opinion affirming the Effingham County Superior Court’s decision to certify a class consisting of the owners of properties neighboring Georgia-Pacific’s Savannah River Mill in Rincon. Plaintiffs, owners of four of the neighboring properties, argued that the mill releases hydrogen sulfide gas onto their properties and sought class certification to include properties located within a mile of the mill. Plaintiffs brought claims for nuisance, trespass, and negligence in connection with fumes created in connection with the mill’s wastewater treatment process.

In so holding, the Court of Appeals majority found that the proposed class is too large to handle by joinder, that the common questions of law or fact prevail over individualized questions relative to individual properties, and that the claims raised by the proposed class would be common.

A three-judge dissent questioned whether plaintiffs had established that the mill’s hydrogen sulfide releases actually affected each property included in the class and concluded that fact-intensive inquiries related to the scope of injuries at each property would render the case too unwieldy to manage as a class action.

Georgia-Pacific has indicated that it will seek a review by the Georgia Supreme Court.

The case is Georgia-Pacific v. Ratner, No. A13A0455.

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Bureau of Land Management Extends Public Comment Period on Fracking Rule

The federal Bureau of Land Management announced today that it will extend by 60 days the public comment period on its revised proposed rule on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

The comment period was set to expire June 24, and the additional 60 days will begin thereafter.

To view the proposed rule, please visit http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/Communications_Directorate/public_affairs/hydraulicfracturing.Par.91723.File.tmp/HydFrac_SupProposal.pdf

For BLM’s synopsis of the draft rule, please visit http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2013/may/nr_05_16_2013.html

 

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Tier 3 Standards Public Comment Period Extended to July 1, 2013

EPA has extended the public comment period on its proposed Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards from June 13, 2013 to July 1, 2013.  The May 29, 2013 Federal Register notice announcing the extension can be found here:

PROPOSED RULES

Control of Air Pollution from Motor Vehicles: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards, 32223

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-29/html/2013-12749.htm

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-29/pdf/2013-12749.pdf.

 

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

 

EPA Finalizes Revisions to Clean Air Standards for Stationary Engines

On January 15, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to standards to reduce air pollution from stationary engines that generate electricity and power equipment at industrial, agricultural, oil and gas production, power generation and other facilities.

The final amendments to the 2010 “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE)” reflect new technical information submitted by stakeholders after the 2010 standards were issued.

According to EPA, the final amendments include monitoring and compliance options for certain large spark ignition (generally natural gas-fueled) stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines, management practices for a subset of existing spark ignition stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines in populated areas, and alternative testing options for such engines in sparsely populated areas. The final amendments also establish management practices for existing compression ignition engines on offshore vessels.

Further, the final amendments establish limits on the hours that stationary emergency engines may be used for emergency demand response and establishing fuel and reporting requirements for certain emergency engines used for emergency demand response, and correct certain minor technical or editing errors in the current regulations for stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines.

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Clean Water Act Opinion

On January 8, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision reversing the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals, held that “the flow of water from an improved portion of a navigable waterway into an unimproved portion of the very same waterway does not qualify as a discharge of pollutants under the CWA. Because the decision below  cannot be squared with that holding, the Court of Appeals judgment must be reversed.” LA County Flood Control District v. NRDC.

Pursuant to its MS4 permit, the Flood Control District had been monitoring instream flows in improved sections of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers. Plaintiffs in the case had argued that the District illegally discharged pollutants by pumping stormwater from the improved portion of the river systems into unimproved portions of the same waterway. The Court held that such activity does not qualify as a “discharge of a pollutant” under the Clean Water Act. Shortly before oral argument, the District was issued a new MS4 permit that requires end-of-pipe pollutant monitoring at individual MS4 discharge points.

For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team members for assistance. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.