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D.C. battle over EPA Administrator nomination & the future of the D.C. Circuit

10 Jun

Gina McCarthy was nominated to take over as US EPA Administrator over three months ago. Last month her nomination passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to the full Senate for a vote. Needless to say, the leadership of EPA is a source of contention between Republicans and Democrats. As a result Republican senators have been delaying McCarthy’s confirmation vote.

Another set of less obvious nominations that may have even more significant environmental repercussions was made last week. President Obama nominated Robert Wilkins, Nina Pillard, and Patricia Millett for the US D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Since federal agencies are typically sued over proposed regulations in the D.C. Circuit, the D.C. Circuit is a prime battleground for US EPA regulations. In fact, these appointments may be especially important as federal judges are appointed for life, unlike agency administrators who typically last only as long as the President who nominates them, if that long. The judges whose change to Senior Status in the Court of Appeals created two of the three vacancies served for 25 and 26 years. The third vacancy was created when John Roberts was elevated to the Supreme Court. Currently, the D.C. Circuit has four judges selected by Republic Presidents (three judges selected by George W. Bush and one by George H.W. Bush and four judges selected by Democratic Presidents (three by Bill Clinton and one by Barack Obama).

If you have questions about these appointments or how to make your voice heard, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Stephen Thorn joining Chicago-Kent as adjunct law professor

30 Jul

Stephen Thorn is joining the Chicago-Kent School of Law as an Adjunct Law Professor.  He will be teaching the Advanced Legal Writing: Environmental Law course.

RE-Powering America: EPA’s guidance on the use of contaminated properties for renewable energy development

20 Jul

Under the RE-Powering America’s Land: Siting Renewable Energy on Potentially Contaminated Land and Mine Sites Initiative, the EPA intends to take some of the ambiguity out of the redevelopment of contaminated properties for use as utility-scale renewable generation facilities. EPA’s guidance Siting Renewable Energy on Contaminated Properties: Addressing Liability Concerns provides important information on how to limit potential liability when entering into a lease contract. Several of the key takeaways are as follows: (more…)

Nanotechnology and Environmental Law- A new blog topic

29 Jun

In light of numerous requests, we are adding nanotechnology as a new topic to our blog.  Please check back frequently for updates, add this blog to your RSS feed (under the favorites tab in Windows Explorer), or subscibe to our weekly e-mail updates (on the right of your screen).

Few new technologies have generated as much attention and buzz as nanotechnology.  The use of nanomaterials is proposed, or already in use, for medicines, electronics, biomaterials, pesticides, and numerous other applications.  While there is no universally accepted definition, nanotechnology or nanomaterials basically refers to ultra-small molecules, typically between 1 and 100 nanometers long in one dimension.  The utility of nanoparticles derives from their extremely small size, low weights, and large surface areas.  Nano-materials may be functionalized much as any other chemical.   (more…)

EPA Penalties- How did they calculate up with that number?

22 Jun

An article of ours discussing some of the methods used by EPA to calculate penalties was published in the April issue of the Illinois Association of Environmental Professionals Network.  In particular, the article covers the RCRA Subtitle C (hazardous waste) penalty policy, the hazardous substance release enforcement response policy (covering EPCRA Sections 304, 311, and 312 and CERCLA Section 103), and the Clean Air Act Stationary Source Civil Policy.

EPA Penalties- How did they come up with that number

If you have any questions regarding EPA enforcement and the penalty policies, contact us at 773-609-5320 or info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Stephen Thorn appointed to ISBA Environmental Section Council

18 Jun

Stephen Thorn has been appointed to the Environmental Law Section Council of the Illinois State Bar Association.  The Council evaluates and makes recommendations regarding existing and proposed legislation and regulations in the environmental law field.  The Council also monitors developments in the environmental law field and disseminates relevant information to other attorneys and business, industrial, government, and agricultural interests.

If you have any questions regarding the Council, contact us at 773-609-5320 or info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

How does EPA calculate its penalties?

10 Jun

While it varies by statute, the maximum penalty for most statutes is $37,500 per violation occurring after January 12, 2009.  Needless to say, imposing the maximum penalty possible for every violation does not accurately reflect a violation’s relative threat to the environment or degree of noncompliance with the regulatory program.  In order to differentiate between violations and to allow for the uniform assessment of penalties throughout the United States, U.S. EPA has devised penalty policies for its enforcement programs.

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Household Waste Drop-off Points and One-day Collection Events Under the Illinois Environmental Protection Act

12 May

The purpose of 415 ILCS 5/22.55, Household Waste Drop-off Points, is to improve the collection of waste from households by diverting certain wastes from the general household waste stream. The act provides for collection centers that can be located at commercial establishments, as well as allowing for the collection of waste in one-day collection events. Both types of collection are discussed in this post.

The first major section of the act allows retail establishments to collect certain types of household wastes from their customers. A household waste drop-off point is defined as “the portion of a site or facility used solely for the receipt and temporary storage of household waste.” 415 ILCS 5/22.55(b). A drop-off point is limited to accepting “pharmaceutical products, personal care products, batteries other than lead-acid batteries, paints automotive fluids, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, mercury thermometers, and mercury thermostats.” 415 ILCS 5/22.55(c)(1). However, the types of waste collected must be the same as those sold, distributed or dispensed by the facility. 415 ILCS 5/22.55(c)(2). By way of example, (more…)

The Illinois Safe Pharmaceutical Disposal Act

11 May

On August 4, 2009, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the Illinois Safe Pharmaceutical Disposal Act (the Act). The Act became effective on January 1, 2010 and is codified at 21 ILCS 150/ et seq. The act prohibits any healthcare institution from disposing of any unused medication into the public wastewater collection system or sewage system. 210 ILCS 150/10(a). All medical facilities are required to update their protocols for the disposal of unused medication. 210 ILCS 150/15.

Under the Act, “unused medications” is defined as “any unopened, expired, or excess medication that has been dispensed for patient or resident care and that is in a solid form.” 210 ILCS 150/10. These medications can be pills, tablets, capsules, and caplets. Id. Medication that is in fluid form, such as intravenous fluids, syringes or transdermal patches are not covered by the ban. Id. (more…)

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