Property Rights: Carved in Stone or Written in Sand?

Environmental Litigation

Florida BeachfrontProperty owners rely on the protection afforded by the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution to shield them against the government improperly interfering with their property rights. The Takings Clause requires “just compensation” to be given to the property owner if the government takes property for public use. For example, if the government takes a person’s land to build a public park, the government must pay him the value of the land. A decision this month by the U.S. Supreme Court adds new uncertainty to that protection by ruling that the property owner must show that the property right allegedly taken was sufficiently “established” under state law.
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Greenberg Glusker’s Robert Chapman Named Finalist for the Public Justice 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for $105 Million Trial Victory Against Exxon Mobil

Environmental Litigation

Landmark NYC Verdict Hailed as Socially Significant for Corporate Environmental Accountability

Greenberg Glusker today announced that Firm Partner Robert S. Chapman is a finalist for the 2010 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for his successful representation of New York City in a trial against Exxon Mobil Corporation. The City charged Exxon Mobil with poisoning it’s groundwater and drinking water supply with the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). After an 11-week federal court jury trial, which was the first of nearly 200 MTBE cases nationwide to go to trial, Chapman and his team obtained a $104.7 million compensatory damage award holding the oil company responsible for the groundwater contamination.
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Urban Land Institute Favorably Reviews California’s Law to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Curbing Urban Sprawl

Green Building

The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a nationally recognized organization which encourages sustainable development practices, has favorably reviewed SB 375 in its June 2010 report, “SB 375, Impact Analysis Report.” Adopted in 2008 by the California Legislature, SB 375 for the first time links land use decisions to funding of transportation infrastructure.
Urban Sprawl
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Tea Leaf Reading From Murkowski Resolution Vote?

Climate Change

Acting pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a “resolution of disapproval” seeking to veto EPA’s endangerment finding regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Senator Lisa MurkowskiThe endangerment finding is the foundation for EPA’s vehicle emission standards and the newly adopted regulations covering GHG emissions from stationary sources. While failing by 47 – 53 on a procedural vote to allow the resolution to proceed, saving the Senators from a rare roll call vote on climate policy, the Resolution may provide some insight into the views of undecided lawmakers.

Republican Senators unanimously supported Murkowski and six Democrats (Jay Rockefeller (WV), Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA) Evan Bayh (IN), and Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln (AR)) also voted to allow the Resolution to proceed. Rather than focus on the climate change implications of the Resolution, Democratic Senators opposing the Resolution couched their comments in terms of energy policy and protection of “Big Oil.” Republicans took a similar tack emphasizing the energy and economic ills of EPA action with Mitch McConnell (R-KY) calling EPA’s regulations a “back-door national energy tax.”
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It’s Not Over Yet – Parties Can Join in Litigation to Oppose EPA Settlements, Court Says

Environmental Litigation

The Ninth Circuit recently joined the Eighth and Tenth Circuits in finding that non-settling parties can intervene in litigation to oppose settlements between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other settling responsible parties under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act or CERCLA. This decision is significant because it may delay and raise the cost of these settlements and may actually discourage them from being made at an early stage. (Read the Ninth Circuit case here, United States v. Aerojet General Corporation)
San Gabriel Mountains

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Government Sends Mixed Messages Regarding Cleantech Agenda

Clean Technology

With the Gulf oil spill crisis growing by the day, the quest for alternative energy sources is front and center in policy debates and the news, but it is unclear whether the United States government is ready to fully embrace clean technology.

Obama SpeakingPresident Barack Obama spent time addressing the United States’ energy future in his remarks at Carnegie Mellon University earlier this week. President Obama pointed to the tax credits and loan guarantees provided for under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as evidence of the United States’ efforts to promote the clean technology sector.
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