News & Resources

Environmental Articles

Cleanup & Superfund

Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, in 1980, in response to several well-publicized hazardous waste disposal disasters. CERCLA authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond to environmental emergencies involving hazardous wastes and contaminants, initiate investigations and cleanups, and take enforcement action against responsible parties. To provide money for these activities, CERCLA established a trust fund financed by federal appropriations and taxes on the manufacture and import of chemicals and petroleum.

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An Overview of Key Federal Environmental Laws

Did you know that there are over ten major federal laws that deal with protecting the environment and the health and safety of U.S. residents? Additionally, this does not include the multitude of other federal acts, rules, and regulations that deal with the environment. Beyond the federal laws, rules, and regulations there are also scores of environmental laws that have been enacted by the states or local governments. The following is a summary of the major federal environmental laws.

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Environmental Law Case Summaries

[05/25] Leider v. Lewis
In a taxpayer action seeking injunctive and declaratory under Code of Civil Procedure section 526a alleging claims of elephant abuse at the Los Angeles Zoo in violation of Penal Code section 596.5, the Court of Appeals' judgment is reversed where: 1) the Court of Appeal's earlier decision did not establish law of the case, and did not bar defendants' new argument that the claim for equitable relief is precluded by Civil Code section 3369; and 2) the 'as otherwise provided by law' exception in section 3369 does not permit equitable relief in a taxpayer action seeking to restrain 'illegal' public expenditures under Code of Civil Procedure section 526a.

[05/25] Association of Irritated Residents v. Cal. Dept. Conservation
In an environmental group's petition for writ of mandate challenging the actions of the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) in issuing permits for 214 new oil wells in the South Belridge Oil Field of Kern County, alleging , DOGGR failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Pub. Resources Code section 21000 et seq., when it issued each individual permit because, allegedly, no CEQA exemption was applicable and DOGGR failed in each instance to conduct any environmental review, the trial court's judgment sustaining defendant's demurrer is reversed where it erred in sustaining the demurrer on the ground of res judicata.

[05/25] Friends of Outlet Creek v. Mendocino County
In a suit to prevent asphalt production at the site of an aggregate operation brought under the California Environmental Protection Act (CEQA), the trial court's judgment sustaining defendants' demurrer, on grounds that defendants cannot embrace a challenge under the CEQA, is reversed where there is established precedent allowing CEQA claims against air quality management districts

[05/23] Southeast Alaska Conservation Counsel v. US Forest Serv.
In an action alleging that the U.S. Forest Service violated the National Forest Management Act by approving either the Big Thorne logging project or the 2008 Tongass Forest Plan under which Big Thorne was authorized, the district court's summary judgment in favor of the U.S. is affirmed where: 1) the Plan's provision pertaining to sustainability was discretionary; 2) because the Forest Service was only obligated to consider sustainability 'where possible,' there was no law to apply in second-guessing the agency; 3) there is no authority compelling the agency to set a specific standard or benchmark for protecting the viability of a species that was neither endangered nor threatened; and 4) the Big Thorne Project was consistent with the Forest Plan.

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