Category Archives: Environmental/Property Damage

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California Prop 65 Decision Raises New Potential Conflict with Federal Pesticide Product Registration and Labeling Requirements

Monsanto officially lost its fight to avoid a Prop 65 warning label on its products containing glyphosate, a chemical used in the popular herbicide Roundup. As we previously reported, Monsanto argued that the State of California’s reliance on an unelected, European organization to decide that glyphosate poses a cancer risk was improper. Last month, a … Continue Reading

Fracking Debate Moves into Insurance Realm

The gloves are off in a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York where an insurer and an oil and gas company disagree about whether the company’s insurance policy covers claims that fracking causes earthquakes. On June 27, 2016, insurer Lloyd’s sued New Dominion, arguing that the Lloyd’s pollution liability policies do not provide … Continue Reading

Fracking-Related Personal Injury Tort Claim Allowed to Proceed in Oklahoma Court

In its June 30, 2015 opinion, Landra v. New Dominion, LLC, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that a personal injury tort action alleging that fracking-related activity caused an earthquake that then caused the plaintiff’s injuries can proceed in an Oklahoma district court. The Oklahoma Supreme Court made no factual or legal findings with respect to … Continue Reading

Draft EPA Study Finds Fracking Has Not Led to Widespread Drinking Water Contamination

The EPA released a draft of its study, U.S. EPA Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources (External Review Draft), EPA, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-15/047, 2015, assessing the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on drinking water in early June (the draft Assessment). According to the EPA’s press … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Opens the Door to a Federal Forum for Environmental Mass Torts

The Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in Allen v. The Boeing Company may pave the way for removal of more mass tort claims to federal court. Allen held that an environmental mass tort occurring over many years is removable under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), finding the “local single event” rule did not apply. In … Continue Reading

Texas Bans Fracking Bans

Texas now outlaws local municipalities from passing bans on hydraulic fracturing.  The bill proposing the law sailed through the Texas Legislature by large majorities and was signed by Governor Gregg Abbott on Monday, May 18, 2015.   The law prohibits cities and towns from imposing local ordinances preventing “fracking” activities. The bill, known as House Bill 40 (HB40), … Continue Reading

Schiff Hardin Lawyers Author ABA’s Annual Update of Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law

A team of Schiff Hardin attorneys compiled the chapter on “Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law” for the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal published in the winter of 2015 (Vol. 50:2) on the evolving landscape of the environmental and toxic tort areas of law. The Schiff team was led by partners … Continue Reading

Ohio Supreme Court Invalidates Local Fracking Restrictions

On Tuesday, February 17, 2015, a sharply divided Ohio Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision that Ohio local governments do not have authority to enact certain local zoning ordinances restricting hydraulic fracturing. The Court found that an Ohio statute regulating oil and gas well production operations that gives state government “sole and exclusive authority” … Continue Reading

Study Suggests Fracking Activity Induced Earthquakes

A recently published study finds that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) activity triggered numerous earthquakes in Ohio in March 2014.  According to the study, published online this month by The Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA), the fracking activities did not create a new fault, but rather activated a fault that was previously unknown.  The … Continue Reading

Boxing Your Ears: CrossFit’s Noise Conundrum

CrossFit, the widely popular fitness methodology, has a noise problem.  Each day, loyal CrossFitters flock to their local gym, or “box,” for the workout of the day (WOD).  In line with CrossFit’s philosophy of constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity, these WODs often involve high repetitions of pull-ups, kettlebell swings, box jumps and … Continue Reading

New York to Ban Fracking

New York State’s Department of Health (DOH) Acting Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, has recommended that hydraulic fracturing be banned.  According to a press release issued today, the DOH has determined that significant questions and risks to public health from fracking are unanswered making it “reckless” to allow fracking in New York State. According to Dr. Zucker, “it would be reckless to … Continue Reading

Nanomaterials Fight Ozone-Depleting Greenhouse Gases

Researchers have developed a small organic molecule that assembles into a porous structure and absorbs hydrocarbons and their derivatives, many of which are potent greenhouse gases.  The material is lightweight, as well as thermally and hydrolytically stable.  For anyone involved in the emission and capture of greenhouse gases, recent developments in nanotechnology, or just simply … Continue Reading

New York Court Upholds Local Zoning Ordinances Banning Fracking

New York’s highest court has determined that towns could use local zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  The decision, issued June 30, 2014, is an important development in the debate about how fracking activities can be effectively “regulated” at the local level.   The New York Court of Appeals determined that the ordinances banning fracking … Continue Reading

Incidence of Black Lung Disease Reaches a 40-Year High

Black lung disease is not a relic of the past.  A study released last month in the American Thoracic Society Journal shows a resurgence of the disease.  Using data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the researchers found an eightfold increase in the past 15 years and the highest recorded levels since the … Continue Reading

Fracking Study Finds No Detectable Gas or Fluid Migration

Conducted as part of the National Energy Technology Laboratory research for the Department of Energy, a new study has encouraging findings regarding the impact of hydraulic fracturing.  The study, conducted during hydraulic fracturing of wells in southwestern Pennsylvania, found no detectable migration of gas or aqueous fluids, and that the impact of hydraulic fracturing on … Continue Reading

Alleged Unspecified Defect Not Sufficient to Prevent Summary Judgment in Fire Case

Earlier this month, the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of an auto manufacturer holding that the plaintiff cannot save his claim by relying on an unspecified product defect under the “malfunction theory” of product liability.  In White v. Mazda Motor of America, Inc., et al., the plaintiff asserted a personal injury and … Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing May Be Pathway to Future Mass Tort Liability

A Yale-led study suggests that natural gas drilling activities could be associated with increased reports of dermal and upper respiratory symptoms in nearby communities.  The study, “Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania,” was published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Researchers affiliated with Yale University, … Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing And Drinking Water

According to a new study, hydrocarbon gas contamination in drinking water close to hydraulic fracturing activity is likely caused by breaches of well integrity from casing or cementing issues, and not from upward migration of gas from deep formations.  A study by researchers from five different universities, and published in the Proceedings of the National … Continue Reading

Illinois DNR Submits Revised Administrative Fracking Rules

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has submitted revised rules that could significantly impact hydraulic fracturing operations, and liability resulting therefrom.  These revisions impact chemical disclosure requirements, trade secret protections, and presumptions of liability for pollution.  On August 29, 2014 the IDNR submitted its Second Notice of Revised Administrative Rules for High Volume Hydraulic … Continue Reading
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