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Weekly Update Volume 40, Issue 10

04/05/2010

LITIGATION 

CWA, PESTICIDES, DREDGING:

The Second Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part a lower court decision that found a county’s mosquito-control activities lawful under the CWA. Although the record indicates the county’s application of pesticides was, in the main, consistent with the EPA-approved FIFRA label, it also reveals instances where it may have been contrary to the relevant FIFRA labeling. Because the lower court did not explain the basis for its conclusion that all spraying was in compliance with the FIFRA label, the judgment of the lower court is vacated and the case remanded for further fact finding. In addition, the lower court erred when it concluded that the pesticides were not discharged from a point source. The spray apparatus was the source of the discharge and, as such, the pesticides were discharged from the source and not from the air. Further, because the CWA establishes a permit exemption for the maintenance of drainage ditches and the ditches had as their purpose the draining of surface waters, the county’s maintenance activities are exempt from the CWA’s permit requirements. The record also supports the conclusion that the county’s activities do not fall within the CWA’s recapture provision.Peconic Baykeeper, Inc. v. Suffolk County, No. 09-0097, 40 ELR 20098 (2nd Cir. Mar. 30, 2010).

ANIMAL SLAUGHTER, PREEMPTION:

The Ninth Circuit vacated a lower court decision that granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of California Penal Code §599f, which bans the slaughter and inhumane handling of nonambulatory animals, against federally regulated swine slaughterhouses. Plaintiff, a trade association representing packers and processors of swine livestock and products, argued, among other things, that §599f was preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). The court held that plaintiff was unlikely to succeed on its preemption claim: FMIA establishes inspection procedures to ensure animals that are slaughtered are safe for human consumption, but this does not preclude states from banning the slaughter of certain kinds of animals altogether. In addition, it is not physically impossible to comply with both §599f and the FMIA nor does §599f serve as an obstacle to the FMIA. As to §599’s humane handling requirements, plaintiff is likely to succeed on its preemption claim, but it has not shown a likelihood of irreparable injury or that the balance of the equities or public interest tip in its favor for this provision.National Meat Ass’n v. Brown, No. 09-15483, 40 ELR 20100 (Mar. 31, 2010).

RCRA, CONSENT DECREE, ABSTENTION:

A district court denied a chromium production facility operator’s motion for summary judgment with respect to claims seeking remediation of hexavalent chromium contamination under the imminent and substantial endangerment citizen suit provision of RCRA. A consent decree between the chromium production facility operator and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection did not render the claims moot because the complaint seeks remedies outside of those provided in the consent decree. The consent decree does not preclude the claims under the Full Faith and Credit Act and res judicata because New Jersey preclusion rules require prior jurisdictional competency, and federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over RCRA suits. Abstention is not appropriate under various doctrines because a RCRA suit may exist in spite of other actions having been taken to resolve the same matter. Finally, the court declined to stay the claims pending fulfillment of the consent decree obligations because to do so would defeat the purpose of RCRA’s imminent and substantial endangerment provision and run contrary to the court’s unflagging obligation to exercise its jurisdiction.Interfaith Community Organization v. PPG Industries, Inc., No. 09-480, 40 ELR 20101 (D.N.J. Mar. 26, 2010) (Greenaway, J.) (Plaintiffs’ counsel include Nancy Marks of NRDC in New York, NY).

CWA, JURISDICTION, NATIONWIDE PERMITS:

A district court rejected a homebuilder association's facial challenge to nationwide permit 46, which governs the discharge of dredged or fill materials into nontidal upland ditches. The association argued that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers exceeded its authority under the CWA in issuing the permit because nontidal upland ditches are not waters of the United States under the CWA. But under the stringent standard applied to facial challenges, the association must demonstrate that there are no set of circumstances under which NWP 46 would be valid. The association failed to meet that standard. InRapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715,36 ELR 20116(2006), the plurality clearly believed that the CWA does not give the Corps unfettered regulation authority. Nevertheless, the Court stopped just short of declaring that a point source, such as a ditch, can never be a navigable water under the CWA. The Corps’s interpretation of the CWA is therefore reasonable and entitled to deference.National Ass'n of Home Builders v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, No. 07-0972, 40 ELR 20104 (D.D.C. Mar. 30, 2010) (Urbina, J.).

CERCLA, RESPONSE COSTS:

A district court dismissed a property owner's cost recovery and contribution claims against the prior owner for costs incurred remediating the site. The remediation took place pursuant to a consent order entered between the owner and the state environmental agency. CERCLA §107(a) permits a PRP to recover only those costs it has "incurred" in cleaning up a site. A PRP that pays money to satisfy a settlement agreement or a court judgment may pursue §113(f) contribution. But by reimbursing response costs paid by other parties, the PRP has not incurred its own costs of response and therefore cannot recover under §107(a). Here, the consent order requires the owner to "reimburse" the agency for its response costs, as opposed to requiring him to expend funds for remediation. Accordingly, the owner cannot recover the amounts he expended in paying the state agency's response costs under §107(a). And although the consent order qualifies as "an administrative or judicially approved settlement" under §113(f)(3)(B) entitling the property owner to seek contribution under CERCLA, the contribution claim is barred by the three-year statute of limitations.Chitayat v. Vanderbilt Associates, No. 03-5314, 40 ELR 20105 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 22, 2010) (Hurley, J.).

NEPA, WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT PLAN:

A district court denied environmental groups’ motion for summary judgment and granted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's and the National Park Service’s cross motion for summary judgment relating to claims that the agencies’ comprehensive Bison and Elk Management Plan violates the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act and NEPA. The plan does not violate the Improvement Act by permitting indefinite supplemental feeding of elk because it is reasonable in light of the provisions and purposes of the Act and the agencies have articulated a satisfactory explanation for the balance they have struck given the factual record. The plan and its EIS do not violate NEPA because they incorporate enough mitigation measures to provide a reasonably complete discussion of mitigation.Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar, No. 08-0945, 40 ELR 20102 (D.D.C. Mar. 26, 2010) (Leon, J.).

TORTS, GOVERNMENT IMMUNITY, PUNITIVE DAMAGES:

A district court allowed negligence claims against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to continue in seven lawsuits stemming from a coal-ash spill, but it held that the TVA is not subject to punitive damages. Plaintiffs filed four class action complaints and four non-class action complaints seeking damages from the failure of a dike wall that resulted in the release of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash sludge from a TVA facility. Although the TVA is considered a federal agency, 16 U.S.C. §831c(b) provides that the TVA may “sue and be sued,” which waives its governmental immunity when it performs functions that are not wholly governmental. Here, Congress authorized the TVA to engage in electricity production, which provides immunity for the decisions to build and operate the dike as well as for the TVA’s actions in responding to the spill. But allegations of neglect of the facilities and of routine maintenance, as well as of failure to implement policies or to follow existing policies surrounding the dike, defeat the TVA’s governmental immunity. In addition, the TVA’s request to strike inverse condemnation claims cannot be granted because plaintiffs have sufficiently identified the properties at issue and stated claims for relief. Finally, because Congress did not expressly abrogate the TVA’s immunity on the topics, the TVA is not subject to either punitive damages or jury trial.Mays v. Tennessee Valley Authority,Nos. 3:09-CV-6 et al., 40 ELR 20103 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 26, 2010) (Varlan, J.).

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, PUNITIVE DAMAGES, MEDICAL MONITORING:

The West Virginia Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part a series of jury verdicts, orders and rulings in a class action where the owner of a zinc smelter facility was found liable to class members for approximately $382 million in damages related to off-site arsenic, cadmium, and lead contamination that emanated from the facility. As a preliminary matter, the court held that the lower court erred in finding that the members’ claims were not barred by the statute of limitations (SOL). There was conflicting evidence with respect to when the members possessed the requisite knowledge to trigger the running of the SOL. Accordingly, the issue should have been determined by the jury. The court therefore conditionally affirmed the judgment and remanded the case for a jury trial solely on the SOL issue. In regards to punitive damages, the court held that punitive damages may not be awarded on a cause of action for medical monitoring and, on this basis, the lower court erred in allowing the jury to award punitive damages for these claims. The court therefore reduced the punitive damages award by 40%. In addition, the court held that the facility owner was entitled to a reduction of $20 million in punitive damages, which is the amount that it already spent to remediate the smelter site. The court therefore reversed and remanded the award of punitive damages with instructions to the lower court to give the members thirty days to decide whether they will accept remittitur in the amount of $20 million or submit to a new trial on punitive damages only.Perrine v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Nos. 34333, 34334, 34335, 40 ELR 20097 (W. Va. Mar. 26, 2010).

COASTAL ZONE, PERMIT, FIREWORKS:

A California appellate court affirmed a lower court decision that denied a writ of mandate seeking to set aside a cease-and-desist order entered by the California Coastal Commission (Commission) that prohibited a festival committee from discharging fireworks over the Gualala River estuary without first obtaining a coastal development permit under the California Coastal Act (Coastal Act). The committee argued that, contrary to the Commission’s determination, it did not need a permit because the fireworks display was not a “development” within the meaning of the Coastal Act. The court held that, although fireworks are not what are commonly regarded as a development of real property, the Coastal Act does not simply use the term “development.” Rather, the statute provides an expansive definition of the activities that constitute development for purposes of the act. Here, the fireworks display is a development within the plain language of the act because it would result in the discharge of solid and chemical waste within the coastal zone. The statute does not require that a minimum amount of waste be discharged to qualify.Gualala Festivals Committee v. California Coastal Commission, No. A125614, 40 ELR 20095 (Cal. Ct. App. Mar. 25, 2010).

HYDROELECTRIC POWER, DAMAGES:

The Supreme Court of Montana affirmed a lower court’s award of almost $41 million in damages to the state of Montana from a wholesale electric generator for its use of state-owned riverbeds at its hydroelectric generation facilities.  The court held that title to the riverbeds passed to Montana when it became a state in 1889.  Based on historical evidence, the rivers were “navigable in fact” at the time of Montana statehood and, under the navigability for title test, Montana has held title to these riverbeds since then. The lower court erred in concluding that the riverbeds were “school trust lands;” they are “public trust lands” under the Montana Constitution.  This does not, however, change the lower court’s overall conclusions because the state still had a fiduciary obligation to administer the lands for the public’s benefit.  Finally, the Hydroelectric Resources Act is not federally preempted by the Federal Power Act and provided an appropriate mechanism with which to assess damages owed by the generator to the state. PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana, No. DA08-0506, 40 ELR 20099 (Mont. Mar. 30, 2010).

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

THE FEDERAL AGENCIES

Note: Citations below are to theFederal Register(FR).

AIR:

  • EPA determined that it will interpret the phrase "subject to regulation" found within the definition of the term "regulated NSR pollutant" to include each pollutant subject to either a provision in the CAA or a CAA regulation that requires actual control of emissions of that pollutant; this determination follows, with one exception, the Agency's interpretation set forth in a December 18, 2008, memorandum.75 FR 17004(4/2/10).
  • EPA issued an 18-month stay of the inclusion of fugitive emissions requirements in the PSD program.75 FR 16012(3/31/10).
  • EPA proposed to amend its rules under CAA §§112(g) and (j) governing case-by-case emission limits for major sources of hazardous air pollutants.75 FR 15655(3/30/10).
  • EPA entered into a proposed settlement agreement under the CAA that requires the Agency to respond within one year to a petition to reopen a Title V permit for RRI Energy Mid-Atlantic's Portland Generating Station in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.75 FR 16461(4/1/10).
  • SIP Approvals:Texas (volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the Houston/Galveston/Brazoria 1997 eight-hour ozone nonattainment area)75 FR 15348(3/29/10); (major and minor new source review rules)75 FR 16671(4/2/10).
  • SIP Proposals:Colorado (partial approval of the 1997 eight-hour ozone NAAQS)75 FR 16032(3/31/10). Kentucky (PSD and nonattainment new source review permitting regulations)75 FR 16388(4/1/10). North Dakota (approval of PSD air pollution control rules and partial approval of the 1997 fine particulate matter and eight-hour ozone NAAQS)75 FR 16026(3/31/10). Texas (VOC emissions in the Houston/Galveston/Brazoria 1997 eight-hour ozone nonattainment area; see above for direct final rule)75 FR 15391(3/29/10); (addition of the Emission Reduction Credit Program)75 FR 15645(3/30/10); (addition of the Discrete Emission Reduction Credit Program)75 FR 15648(3/30/10); (major and minor new source review rules; see above for direct final rule)75 FR 16706(4/2/10).

DRINKING WATER:

  • EPA announced that it will reevaluate the national primary drinking water regulations for acrylamide, epichlorohydrin, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethylene under the SDWA six-year review.75 FR 15500(3/29/10).

HAZARDOUS & SOLID WASTE:

  • EPA proposed to grant a petition to delist a wastewater treatment plant sludge filter cake generated by Tokusen USA, Inc., in Conway, Arkansas, from the list of hazardous wastes.75 FR 16037(3/31/10).

WILDLIFE:

  • NOAA-Fisheries announced a 90-day finding on a petition to list the bumphead parrotfish as threatened or endangered and designate critical habitat under the ESA; the Agency found that listing may be warranted and initiated a status review.75 FR 16713(4/2/10).
  • FWS announced a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Tucson shovel-nosed snake as threatened or endangered with critical habitat under the ESA; the Agency found that listing the snake is warranted throughout its range but precluded by higher priority actions.75 FR 16050(3/31/10).

DOJ NOTICES OF SETTLEMENT:

  • United States v. City of Ottawa, No. 10-1887 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 25, 2010). A settling CERCLA defendant must pay a $150,000 civil penalty and must provide approximately $4.35 million in in-kind services for U.S. response costs incurred at the Ottawa Radiation Areas Superfund site in Ottawa, Illinois.75 FR 16840(4/2/10).
  • United States v. Sidney Resources Corp., No. 10-00112-BLW (D. Idaho Mar. 1, 2010). A settling CERCLA defendant must assign its interests in insurance policies to a trust for U.S. response costs and natural resources damages incurred at the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund site in northern Idaho.75 FR 16176(3/31/10).
  • United States v. City of Anderson, Indiana, No. IP 02-1103 C M/S (S.D. Ind. Mar. 26, 2010). Under a modified 2002 consent decree, a settling CWA defendant must adhere to a new three-phase long-term implementation schedule to control combined sewer overflows from its sewer system.75 FR 16177(3/31/10).

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

THE CONGRESS

Note: Citations below are to the Congressional Record (Cong. Rec.).

Committee Action:

  • S. 1830 (energy efficiency)was reported by the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. S. Rep. No. 111-167, 156 Cong. Rec. S2115 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010).The bill would establish the Chief Conservation Officers Council to improve the energy efficiencies of federal agencies.

Bills Introduced:

  • S. 3168 (Casey, D-Pa.) (land acquisition)would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to acquire certain non-federal land in the state of Pennsylvania for inclusion in the Fort Necessity National Battlefield. 156 Cong. Rec. S2115 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 3175 (Murkowski, R-Alaska) (mining) would amend the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 to require the BLM to provide a claimant of a small miner waiver from claim maintenance fees with a period of 60 days after notice of one or more defects is received by the claimant by registered mail to cure the defects or pay the claim maintenance fee. 156 Cong. Rec. S2115 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 3185 (Reid, D-Nev.) (land)would require the Secretary of the Interior to convey certain federal land to Elko County, Nevada, and to take land into trust for the Te-moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada. 156 Cong. Rec. S2115 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 3188 (Shaheen, D-N.H.) (energy)would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an investment tax credit for biomass heating property. 156 Cong. Rec. S2115 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance.
  • H.R. 4940 (Pomeroy, D-N.D.) (alternative fuels)would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend certain tax incentives for alcohol used as fuel and to amend the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States to extend additional duties on ethanol. 156 Cong. Rec. H2456 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
  • H.R. 4942 (Goodlatte, R-Va.) (oil and gas)would require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct proposed oil and gas Lease Sale 220 for areas of the outer Continental Shelf at least 50 miles beyond the coastal zone of Virginia. 156 Cong. Rec. H2456 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committees on Natural Resources, Energy and Commerce, and Science and Technology.
  • H.R. 4948 (Boren, D-Okla.) (Water Resources Development Act)would amend the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 to clarify the role of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in maintaining the W.D. Mayo Lock and Dam in Oklahoma. 156 Cong. Rec. H2456 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Committee on Natural Resources.
  • H.R. 4990 (Sestak, D-Pa.) (alternative fuels)would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify and extend the credit for alternative motor vehicles. 156 Cong. Rec. H2457 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
  • H.R. 4991 (Young, R-Alaska) (mining)would amend the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 to require the BLM to provide a claimant of a small miner waiver from claim maintenance fees with a period of 60 days after notice of one or more defects is received by the claimant by registered mail to cure the defects or pay the claim maintenance fee. 156 Cong. Rec. H2459 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

IN THE STATES

Note: The entries below cover state developments since the last issue of Update. The entries are arranged by state, and within each section, entries are further subdivided by subject matter area. To access material previously reported in 2010, visit our list ofCumulative State Developments. For state material reported prior to 2010, visit theELR Archives.

The states below have updates this week:

CaliforniaFloridaIndianaColoradoGeorgiaLouisianaDelaware  

CALIFORNIA

Toxic Substances:

  • The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will hold a public workshop on proposed amendments to Cal. Code Regs. tit. 27, §§25801, 25803, and 25805, No Observable Effect Levels. These sections set out the procedures and criteria for determining an exposure level where there would be no observable effect. The hearing will be April 14, 2010. Comments are due April 28, 2010. Seehttp://oehha.org/prop65/public_meetings/04022010meet.html

Water:

  • The State Water Resources Control Board seeks public comment on the scope and content of information to be considered in amending the Water Quality Control Policy for Developing California’s Clean Water Act Section 303(d) List. The proposed amendment will incorporate State Water Quality Control Policy for Sediment Quality Objectives for Enclosed Bays and Estuaries. Comments are due April 12, 2010. Seehttp://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/tmdl/docs/303d_update/notice303d_mtg032910.pdf
  • The State Water Resources Control Board will hold a public meeting on proposed adoption of the Water Quality Control Policy on the Use of Coastal and Estuarine Waters for Power Plant Cooling. The proposed Policy establishes technology-based standards to implement federal CWA §316(b). The proposed policy would apply to the 19 existing power plants that currently have the ability to withdraw over 15 billion gallons per day from coastal and estuarine waters using a single-pass system. The meeting will be May 4, 2010. Written comments are due April 13, 2010. Seehttp://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/npdes/docs/cwa316may2010/otcnotice_rev.pdf

COLORADO

Water:

  • The Water Quality Control Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to 5 Colo. Code Regs. §1002-32, Classifications and Numeric Standards Arkansas River Basin; §1002-33, Classifications and Numeric Standards for Upper Colorado River Basin and North Platte River; §1002-36, Classifications and Numeric Standards for Rio Grande River Basin; and §1002-38, Classifications and Numeric Standards for South Platte River Basin, Laramie River Basin, Republican, and Smoky Hill River Basin. The hearing will be July 12, 2010. Seehttp://www.sos.state.co.us/CCR/Upload//NoticeOfRulemaking//ProposedRuleAttach2010-00165.PDF
  • The Water Quality Control Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed adoption of 5 Colo. Code Regs. §1002-66, pertaining to financial assurance instrument criteria for Colorado’s Housed Commercial Swine Feeding Operations (HCSFO); and amendments to 5 Colo. Code Regs. §1002-61, regarding financial assurance requirements for HCSFOs. The hearing will be July 12, 2010. Seehttp://www.sos.state.co.us/CCR/Upload//NoticeOfRulemaking//ProposedRuleAttach2010-00167.PDF

DELAWARE

Air:

Fisheries:

FLORIDA

Water:

GEORGIA

Air:

  • The Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 391-3-1-.03(9), Permit Fees; and Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 391-3-1-.15, Transportation Conformity. The amendments specify the fee rate, add provisions for administrative fees and transfer of ownership, and implement the requirements of the CAA with respect to the conformity of transportation plans, programs, and projects developed, funded or approved under Title 23 U.S. Code or the federal transit laws to the state's air quality implementation plan. The hearing will be April 6, 2010. Comments are due April 20, 2010. Seehttp://www.gaepd.org/environet/1/20100309_Notice_FEE.pdf

INDIANA

Air:

LOUISIANA

Air:

  • The Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to La. Admin. Code tit. 33:III §2131, Gasoline Handling. The amendments will make the Louisiana Administrative Code at least as stringent in the gasoline handling area as the federal regulations. The hearing will be April 28, 2010. Comments are due May 5, 2010. Seehttp://www.doa.la.gov/osr/reg/1003/1003.pdf(pp. 641-43)
  • The Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to La. Admin. Code tit. 33:III §§111 and 2123, Organic Solvents and Solvent Degreasers. The amendments will update and add new emission limitation and control technique efficiency requirements for organic solvent and solvent degreaser volatile organic compound emissions. Seehttp://www.doa.la.gov/osr/reg/1003/1003.pdf(pp. 649-54)

Hazardous & Solid Waste:

  • The Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to La. Admin. Code tit. 33:V §§109, 1109, 1901, 1907, 1909 and 4437, Hazardous Waste Tanks Secondary Containment Requirements and 90-Day Turnover of Hazardous Waste. The hearing will be April 28, 2010. Comments are due May 5, 2010. Seehttp://www.doa.la.gov/osr/reg/1003/1003.pdf(pp. 643-49)

Toxic Substances:

  • The Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to La. Admin. Code tit. 33:I §§3905 and 3931, Reportable Quantity for Brine from Solution Mining. The amendments would provide a new definition for brine from solution mining of salt from underground deposits, which was previously a subset of the definition of produced water. Seehttp://www.doa.la.gov/osr/reg/1003/1003.pdf(pp. 655-56)

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

INTERNATIONAL

A CALL FOR HONG KONG TO CLEAN THE AIR

Business leaders in Hong Kong are taking a stand against the persistently high levels of air pollution in the city. William Fung, managing director of Li & Fung, one of Hong Kong’s largest firms, recently said that, "Hong Kong has to do as much as it can to clean up the local environment." He added that the government had been "too timid on almost every move they have made." Mr. Fung made his remarks two days after pollution levels had streaked past the upper 500-point end of a government index, more than doubling the previous record of 202 set in 2008. They reflect a growing frustration here with the perpetually poor air quality. The Clean Air Network and Civic Exchange, a public policy group, say that the air breathed by Hong Kong’s seven million residents is three times more polluted than New York’s and more than twice as bad as London’s. Hong Kong’s government has pledged to “leave no stone unturned” to achieve better air quality. For the full story, visithttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/01/business/energy-environment/01pollute.html?src=mv

FRENCH FIRMS PULL THE PLUG ON PALM OIL

French firms have increased restrictions on the use of palm oil in a move that may boost demand for local oils, but some warned it could raise new food and land problems. Debate about palm oil's impact on the environment intensified after reports were published linking palm oil production methods to deforestation and habitat destruction. Concerns were also raised about the health effects of palm oil. "By removing palm oil from our products in favor of rapeseed oil, we act in a responsible way both in terms of environment and public health," Findus, France's largest frozen food maker, said in a statement last week. Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer, replaced palm oil in several branded goods but said it favored the approach of promoting oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. There are also significant environmental and health concerns that could arise from a move away from palm oil, including replacement with oils that require more land and higher levels of chemical fertilizer to produce. For the full story, visithttp://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6302OK20100401

ISLE OF ANGLESEY COULD HOUSE NEXT UK NUCLEAR PLANT

The UK's next nuclear power plant could be built on the island of Anglesey by 2020. The existing nuclear plant on the island will be decommissioned in December and Horizon Nuclear Power has stated that it will apply for planning consent to build a replacement reactor to produce up to 3,300Mw of electricity. County council leader Clive McGregor said the move would have a "positive impact" on the community and deliver "high quality jobs". He continued stating that, "We have suffered tremendous job losses over the last few years. This will bring a degree of hope for the people of Anglesey in terms of secure employment both during the construction phase and during the 60 years or so of the life of a new reactor at Wylfa." The island's council estimates that the development could bring £8bn into the local economy and Horizon Nuclear Power said the plant could deliver up to 800 high quality permanent jobs. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is conducting a 15-week consultation about the proposals. For the full story, seehttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/north_east/8594152.stm

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

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