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Defeat of the Carbon Tax: As Washington Increasingly Mimics the Partisan Gridlock of the “other Washington,” it Risks Losing Progressive Action in the Name of Progressive Principles

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Fuel Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Tax, Uncategorized

We all know the federal government is hamstrung by partisan gridlock.  Where once lawmakers recognized that passing legislation required that both parties end up being able to claim success, that no one got everything they wanted, and that progress was never perfect, today there seem to be new rules holding forth:  “I will only ‘compromise’… Continue Reading

What We Are Reading, September 26: Climate Change, Fires, and the DJC’s Environmental Outlook

Posted in Climate Change, Geeky Science Stuff, Uncategorized

With this week being the week that world leaders met in New York for the United Nations Climate Summit 2014, our “what we are reading” update naturally focuses on climate issues. First, researchers here in Seattle published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that concludes the ~0.5 to 1 degree… Continue Reading

EPA’s Initiation of a Clean Water Act Section 404(c) Review for the Mining of the Pebble Deposit: What is the History of EPA’s Other 404(c) Determinations?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Last Friday, EPA announced that it is initiating review of the proposed mining of the Pebble deposit in Alaska under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, a little-used part of the CWA that allows EPA to “veto” Section 404 permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. As we briefly discussed over on Graham… Continue Reading

Science, Law & the Environment’s New Author Additions

Posted in Uncategorized

If you come here with any regularity, you may notice that there is a new firm name on the blog. I joined Graham & Dunn at the beginning of the year as a shareholder, where I will continue my environmental law, land use, and natural resource practice. I am excited about the move for many… Continue Reading

Washington’s 2014 Legislative Session: Early Developments on Fish Consumption, Nuclear Power and More

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Fish Consumption, Uncategorized, Water Quality

We’re just over a week into the 2014 legislative session, and there are already some interesting developments. In no particular order, here is what is catching my eye: First, the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee held a work session on the fish consumption issue last week. The Association of Washington Business just posted an… Continue Reading

Breaking: Governor Inslee’s deal with Boeing to Build the 777x in Washington Includes a Commitment on Fish Consumption

Posted in Emerging Policy, Public Health Policy, Uncategorized, Water Quality

With a hat tip to Ken Lederman at Foster Pepper for getting the release in my inbox before my  twitter feed blew up on the subject: This afternoon, Governor Inslee announced a deal with Boeing that involves a special legislative session starting Thursday to implement a number of items in exchange for Boeing producing the… Continue Reading

EPA Region 10 Enforcement Update: Focus on Source Control and the Duwamish Waterway

Posted in Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Uncategorized

EPA Region 10 released this press release on Monday, summarizing four recent enforcement actions it has taken under the Clean Water Act. There are some commonalities and differences between the four actions that I think are illustrative of Region 10’s enforcement priorities. First, all four of the entities (Ash Grove Cement Company, Waste Management of… Continue Reading

The Coal Export Fight: Negative Implications for Future Dam Removal?

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, SEPA, Uncategorized

This weekend, Lynda Mapes at the Seattle Times wrote an interesting article on the drop of barge traffic along the Lower Snake River, and how a shift from barge to rail as the means of shipping wheat from Idaho to foreign markets may take away one of the primary obstacles to the removal of four… Continue Reading

Coal Fight Update: Washington State’s Unprecedented Expansion of the Scope of Environmental Review

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, SEPA, Sustainability, Uncategorized

The plot thickens in the coal terminal fight. In my last update on this issue, I covered the Corps’ decision to not consider issues such as rail traffic, coal mining, and shipping outside of U.S. territory, in the Corps’ review of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal under the National Environmental Policy Act, because the Corps… Continue Reading

New Changes to the Model Toxics Control Act: Addition of Model Remedies, new Brownfields Options, and new Funding Sources

Posted in Cleanup & Superfund, Rule Making, Uncategorized

Right at the end of the last legislative session, the State Legislature passed Substitute Senate Bill 5296, amending Washington’s Model Toxics Control Act, RCW Chapter 70.105D. These amendments are the first significant amendments to MTCA in a while, and hopefully will encourage redevelopment of brownfields in Washington State. Here are what I’d consider the four… Continue Reading

Coal Export Fight Update: Lawsuit Filed, EIS Scope Decided, Politicians Travel to D.C.

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, Public Health Policy, Uncategorized

Lots going on with the coal export fight — here is a quick update: Citizen Suit Update: On June 4th–the earliest possible date–the Sierra Club filed suit seeking to enforce the alleged violations of the Clean Water Act detailed in its notice letter sent to BNSF and others back in April. The case is before… Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Serve 60 Day Notice on BNSF, Coal Companies, Alleging Ongoing Violations of the Clean Water Act

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Yesterday, a group of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper and others, sent a 60-day notice letter to Burlington Northern, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Ambre Energy, Cloud Peak Energy, Global Mining Holding Co., FirstEnergy Corporation, and TransAlta USA,  alleging violations of the Clean Water Act related to alleged discharges of coal… Continue Reading

Manufacturers: A New Class of Liability for Cleanup Statutory Schemes?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Emerging Policy, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Most people familiar with state cleanup laws or the federal counterpart, CERCLA, are familiar with four general classes of liable parties: 1) Owners or operators of contaminated facilities; 2) Past owners or operators of facilities at the time of release or disposal of hazardous substances; 3) Parties that arranged for disposal of hazardous substances at… Continue Reading

Coal Exports from Washington: NEPA/SEPA Scoping Begins for the Millennium Coal Export Terminal

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, SEPA, Uncategorized

On Tuesday, the Washington Department of Ecology announced an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to jointly oversee the preparation of an environmental impact statement (“EIS”) for Millenium Coal’s proposal to develop a coal export terminal at the site of a former aluminum smelter in Longview, Washington. This MOU comes on the heels… Continue Reading

Washington Begins the Process of Updating its Water Quality Criteria for Toxics

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Rule Making, Uncategorized, Water Quality

I’ve written a fair amount on the issue of fish consumption in Washington, including discussions of the technical issues, speculation about possible impacts of this effort, and the appropriateness of addressing persistent bioaccumulative contaminants within this regulatory framework. On September 13th, Ecology announced it is commencing the long-anticipated formal process of updating its water quality… Continue Reading

Quick hits from the Pacific Northwest: Dams as Greenhouse Gas Sources, Cross-Border Torts, Transboundary CERCLA Trial Coming Up

Posted in Cleanup & Superfund, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Uncategorized

I’ll admit to taking a bit of time to travel with my family the last couple of weeks, so I have a few items that have accumulated in my notes. More to come when I’m back from a weekend of fishing in Canada: First, there is an interesting study out of Washington State University that… Continue Reading

Clean Water Act Citizen Suits in Washington: 2011 Litigation Recap

Posted in Uncategorized

If you do business in Washington and your business is covered by either a general NPDES permit or a site-specific NPDES permit, chances are, sooner or later, you will receive a 60-day notice letter from a lawyer representing one of the local environmental groups threatening suit for alleged violations of those permits. Many times, these… Continue Reading