More Protests in the Pipeline

Pipelines are essential to get crude oil and natural gas from a production site to processing and then for use in the market. When properly constructed, operated and maintained within the pipeline safety rules, they provide an efficient method to transport these products that are so valuable to our economy. However, in recent years, it has become more and more common for environmental groups to protest the construction of new (and safer) pipelines.

The years-long and still ongoing saga of the Keystone XL Pipeline is well known. After undergoing numerous environmental reviews that established it had little overall environmental impact, President Obama declined to grant authority to construct the trans-boundary portion of the pipeline. President Trump issued a Presidential Memoranda in which he invited TransCanada to resubmit its application and stated a final permitting decision must be made within 60 days of the resubmittal. TransCanada submitted its application within several days. Continue reading “More Protests in the Pipeline”

ALERT: The Trump Administration’s Second Week

The Trump Administration’s second week was somewhat calmer as to its environmental agenda. Nevertheless, there were some important developments.

The administration took aim at the number of regulations issued by executive agencies, issuing an Executive Order, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, on January 30, 2017. Dubbed the “One In, Two Out” Order, it essentially requires that, unless prohibited by law, the agency identify two existing regulations to be repealed when it publicly proposes a new regulation. The environmental statues do not contain a specific provision that explicitly prohibits this practice. As a result, EPA should be subject to this order during its rule-makings. However, many of the regulations issued by EPA are based on, or otherwise required by, the environmental statutes. It may be prove difficult for EPA to repeal two regulations when issuing a rule that is required by an environmental statute, as those to-be-repealed regulations may be required by a statute. The order should, however, inhibit or curtail discretionary rule-makings and promote the repeal of other discretionary rule-makings. Continue reading “ALERT: The Trump Administration’s Second Week”

Public Water Supplies Need Help In Managing Increased Scrutiny

The delivery of water into our homes, and the safety of that water, is usually taken for granted.  We turn on the tap and water comes out, which we assume is safe to drink and use for cooking.  But, for a variety of reasons, many people no longer make that assumption quite so readily. As a result, regulatory agencies and citizens have become more engaged. A public water supply must handle violations of the drinking water standards and rules and the possible defense of enforcement actions or suits in a way that ensures the quality of drinking water while minimizing liability for the public water supply.

Public water systems and municipalities are facing an inordinate level of scrutiny due to high profile cases of contaminated drinking water. The most famous, or infamous, drinking water crisis is the Flint, Michigan situation, which, by most accounts, was brought about by very poor decision-making. Flint began using the Flint River as a water source, in what appears to be a cost-cutting move. Even though water from the Flint River was known to require treatment, proper anti-corrosive agents were not used, resulting in lead leaching from the aging service lines. Testing revealed that lead levels in residential water were well over the standard set by EPA of 15 parts per billion. Continue reading “Public Water Supplies Need Help In Managing Increased Scrutiny”