Environmental Risk Monitor

Environmental Risk Monitor

Environmental Issues That Matter: News, Commentary & Analysis

The Phase I: Important Considerations In Urban Development

Posted in CERCLA

Philadelphia SkylineSo you are a commercial developer in the process of acquiring a property in an urban environment. As a savvy real estate professional, you have retained an environmental engineering firm to conduct a Phase I review of your target property. That review comes back with “no recognized environmental conditions.” So the property’s clean right? Continue Reading

Beyond All Appropriate Inquiry, Environmental Liability Protection in Commercial Property Transactions

Posted in CERCLA, Environmental Liability Protection, Real Estate

The ubiquitous Phase I environmental report is hopefully familiar to everyone involved in commercial property development. As an initial evaluation of potential environmental conditions on a property, it obviously serves as a valuable tool for a prospective purchaser of commercial real estate. The Phase I also serves an additional – critical – function. It is the foundation and first step of establishing liability protection for any known or unknown environmental contamination on the property. But while it is the foundation, it is not the sole requirement needed to establish liability protection, and the developer who forgets that proceeds at its peril. Continue Reading

Climate Change and the Pontiff

Posted in Climate Change

Pope FrancisThis Thursday, in a much anticipated move, Pope Francis will release a Papal encyclical, only his second, on the subject of climate change and its impact on the poor.  It is apparently to be titled “Laudato Si, on the care of our common home.”  It is anticipated, and seemingly confirmed by an early draft leaked to the Italian newspaper L’Espresso, that the encyclical will recognize the link between climate change and human activity – particularly the use of fossil fuels.  It is also anticipated that Pope Francis will call for global action to limit climate change and address its impact. Continue Reading

New Mandate: If you like your water heater you can keep it; but replacing it will be expensive.

Posted in NAECA

Waterheater 24507516Effective April 16, 2015, there will be significant changes to water heater energy factor requirements as the result of updates to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (“NAECA”). The new requirements call for higher energy factor ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric, and oil water heaters. NAECA also affects some light-duty commercial water heaters. Continue Reading

New Jersey Spill Act: No Statute of Limitations After All

Posted in New Jersey, Spill Act

Oil Spill on BeachSeveral months ago we wrote about a then-pending challenge before the New Jersey Supreme Court over the question of whether the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (the “Spill Act”), N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11 et seq. was subject to New Jersey’s six year statute of limitations for property damage under N.J.S.A. 2A:14-1.  In August 2013 the New Jersey Superior Court said yes.  This year New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ruled no. Continue Reading

Pennsylvania’s Management of Fill…One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Posted in Clean Fill

Truck 53538968

(Editor’s note: The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is currently considering modifications to its “Fill Policy.” The proposed revisions appear likely to result in a reduction in acceptable numeric values of contaminants in “clean fill.” The public comment period on the proposal closes on February 18, 2015. On-going projects may not be grandfathered from application of any new definition of clean fill. In other words, there is potential for confusion and significant disruption in the “earthwork” segment of the construction industry. The article below is the first in a series we will post on this topic. Guest author, Gary Brown, President of RT Environmental Services, Inc. has over 30 years of experience in environmental compliance and engineering.)

In 1996 Pennsylvania became one of the first states to place numeric limits on contamination in earthwork (“Fill”) that was to be moved across property lines.  While other states regulate releases and discharges to the environment, the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) placed direct limits on the Fill itself, whether or not there was pre-existing evidence of a spill or release. Continue Reading

Oil Patch Regulators Order Bakken Crude “Stabilized,” A Step to Enhance Oil Train Safety

Posted in Oil

On December 9 the North Dakota Industrial Commission issued an Order requiring production facilities to separate volatile gases, the so-called “light ends,” like propane and butane, from crude oil before it is shipped to ports and refineries. Twenty percent of all crude oil produced in North Dakota is shipped by rail to refineries in Philadelphia. Significant amounts are also shipped to New Jersey and Delaware. Continue Reading

State Regulators Are On Track To Improve Oil Train Safety

Posted in Gas, Oil, Pennsylvania

Our November 13 post noted that most of the crude oil from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota is shipped to ports and refineries throughout the United States by rail, typically in unit trains with one hundred cars or more. Fully twenty percent of all production from the Bakken is shipped through Pennsylvania to refineries in Philadelphia. Continue Reading

FALLING OIL PRICES IGNITE CONCERN OVER BAKKEN CRUDE

Posted in Oil, Pennsylvania, Waste Cleanup

Happy Days Are Here Again?

Gasoline prices have been falling steadily for months. Now a gallon may be purchased for substantially less than three dollars in many regions of the country. That’s welcome news for consumers, but environmentalists, regulators and first responders have been asking whether there are risks associated with this happy development that may not be obvious and which should be addressed. Continue Reading

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Contribution Actions Under New Jersey’s Spill Act?

Posted in New Jersey, Waste Cleanup

A cornerstone of environmental legislation in New Jersey is The New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (“Spill Act”), N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11 et seq.; New Jersey’s analogue to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, more commonly known as CERCLA.  Like CERCLA, the Spill Act is the primary tool for the State of New Jersey to hold polluters financially responsible and to force cleanup of contaminated properties. Continue Reading