We’ll All Be Driving Cleaner By 2025

Clean Technology

Volt-LeafPresident Obama announced today an agreement with thirteen major automakers to commence the next phase of the Administration’s program to increase fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto manufacturers, the state of California, environmental groups, and other interested parties for several months to ensure that the standards are achievable, cost-effective and preserve consumer choice.

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No Longer Running On Fumes: Air Board Approves $40 Million in Additional Funding for Clean Vehicles

Clean Technology

Volt-LeafAs my colleague posted last month, California’s popular Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) was in jeopardy of running out of funds by this month. The program, funded by California’s Air Resources Board (ARB), provides vouchers or rebates on a first-come, first-served basis toward the purchase of zero-emission or plug-in hybrid cars, and zero-emission or hybrid trucks and buses. This week, ARB approved up to $40 million for the third year of funding for the Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), which funds CVRP.

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LA + EPA + SMOG = LAWSUIT: Environmental Groups Sue EPA for Missing Smog-Related Deadline

Environmental Litigation

Los AngelesOn Monday, environmental groups, including Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Desert Citizens Against Pollution, Communities for a Better Environment and the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The suit alleges that EPA ran afoul of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by missing a May deadline requiring the agency to determine if the LA area has exceeded the federal one-hour ozone standard.

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Cleaning Up: Resolving Your Environmental Liabilities with other People’s Money

Environmental Litigation

David E. Cranston, chair of the Environmental Law Group, was published in Smart Business Magazine regarding how clients can avoid being stuck with cleanup costs in environmental contamination cases.

A client of ours faced significant costs in cleaning up property contaminated by the operations of its tenants many years earlier. The client’s former counsel who opined the pursuing claims against the tenants, who were mostly out of business, was not worth the time or money. Our investigation indicated otherwise. We learned that a tenant with a small scrap operation in the 1950s had changed names, and its business, through a series of transactions, was acquired by a large publicly traded company. Another tenant who was no longer doing business had significant insurance assets. After prosecuting the claims that our client was about to abandon, we recovered several million dollars to pay for the cleanup.

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No Backwards CEQA: California Appeals Court Finds CEQA Review Required for Effects of the Environment on a Project

Environmental Litigation

WasteWaterThe California Court of Appeal in Orange County found late last week that agencies are not required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to evaluate the potential impact that the present environment would have on a proposed project. If you just read that and rubbed your eyes that is because it seems a little backwards… and it is.

Down in the beautiful beachy city of Dana Point, South Orange County Wastewater Authority operates a sewage treatment plant near the shore. (Okay, so, beautiful except for that.) In 2007, a developer submitted an application to the city requesting a rezoning of the property so that it could be developed into mixed-use residential and commercial. The City’s planning commission began the environmental review process required of it under CEQA. As our loyal readers will recall, CEQA requires “state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.” After its review, the City’s planning commission determined that any environmental effects caused by the proposed project could be mitigated and it issued a mitigated negative declaration (or MND). An MND is issued when the potentially significant effects that the proposed project may have on the environment can be avoided or reduced to a level of insignificance by making revisions in the project or instituting mitigation measures.
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