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Environmental Law
University of Dayton School of Law
Watson, Blake Andrew

Environmental Law
Spring 2013
I.                   NEPA – 1969
a.       Requires fed agencies to consider environmental consequences of their actions
II.                Common Law Doctrines
a.       Nuisance – Backbone of Environmental Law
                                                              i.      Private = An unreasonable and substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of land
1.      Restatement § 822 – Liability for acts that are either:
a.       Intentional AND unreasonable; OR
b.      Unintentional AND otherwise actionable under negligent or reckless conduct rules
2.      Restatement § 826 – Definition of unreasonable
a.       Gravity of Harm > Utility of the Conduct
3.      Restatement § 827-28 – Factors for gravity of harm
a.       Extent and character of the harm
b.      Social value of P’s use of land and D’s conduct
c.       Suitability of each to the character of the locality
d.      Burdens on P and D of avoiding the harm
4.      Defenses
a.       Activity is not unreasonable/substantial interference
b.      Hypersensitive plaintiff
c.       Causation
d.      Coming to the nuisance
                                                            ii.      Public = An unreasonable interference with the interest of the community or the rights of the general public
1.      Traditionally, only may be brought by public authorities, or by a public citizen injured in a different kind than the public
b.      Trespass = Knowing physical invasion of land without permission
                                                              i.      Protects the right to exclusive possession
                                                            ii.      Jurisdictions allowing for trespass claims for pollution add a requirement that P demonstrate substantial damage
                                                          iii.      Liable for actual damages done, and nominal damages if no actual harm
c.       Negligence = Action creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others
                                                              i.      Four elements:
1.      Legal duty owed to P
2.      Breach of duty
3.      Harm
4.      Causal relationship between breach and harm
                                                            ii.      Broader than nuisance as it is not limited to harm to land interests
                                                          iii.      Focus is on accidental, unintentional problems
d.      Strict Liability = Damage caused by abnormally dangerous activities
                                                              i.      Does not require showing of fault
                                                            ii.      Broader than nuisance as it is not limited to harm to land interests
                                                          iii.      Factors:
1.      Risk of harm (Extent of harm)
2.      Likelihood of grave harm (Degree of harm)
3.      Whether risk can be eliminated
4.      Whether common in locality
5.      Appropriate context/location
6.      Balancing value against danger
                                                          iv.      Strict liability may also be codified in certain statutes
III.             Solid Waste Disposal Act – 1965
a.       Focus was mainly on garbage
b.      Lacked any real “teeth”
IV.             Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) – 1976
a.       Regulates the storage and disposal of hazardous and solid wastes
b.      Focuses on energy AND waste
c.       Solid waste is still predominately regulated by State and Local gov’t
d.      Jurisdictional matters:
                                                              i.      First question: “Is it waste?” – Subtitle D
                                                            ii.      Second question: “Is the waste hazardous?” – Subtitle C
e.       Solid Waste = Any discarded material
                                                              i.      Includes solids, liquids, semisolids, and gasses
V.                Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) – 1980
a.       Distinction from RCRA:
                                                              i.      RCRA – Remedial statute
                                                            ii.      CERCLA – Clean-up statute
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act – RCRA
I.                   Three types of regulated entities
a.       Generator
                                                              i.      Recordkeeping practices
                                                            ii.      Labeling practices
                                                          iii.      Use of a manifest system to assure proper arrival
b.      Transporter
                                                              i.      Recordkeeping
                                                            ii.      Labeling
                                                          iii.      Compliance with manifest system
c.       TSD Facility (treat, store, or dispose)
                                                              i.      Recordkeeping, Labeling, Compliance with manifest system
                                                            ii.      Standards for:
1.      TSD of wastes
2.      Location, design, and construction of facilities
3.      Assuring financial responsibility
                                                          iii.      Permits
1.      90 Day Rule – Generators have 90 days to remove waste before they become subject to TSD requirements
II.                Waste
a.       Waste = Any discarded material; except:
                                                              i.      Domestic sewage
                                                            ii.      Irrigation return flows
                                                          iii.      Nuclear material
b.      Discarded material = any material which is:
                                                              i.      Abandoned
1.      Disposed of
2.      Burned or incinerated
3.      Accumulated, stored, or treated before or in lieu of other abandonment
                                                            ii.      Recycled
1.      Used in a manner constituting disposal
2.      Burning for energy recovery
3.      Reclaimed
4.      Accumulated speculatively
                                                          iii.      Inherently waste-like
1.      Ordinarily disposed of, burned, or incinerated
2.      Contain toxic constituents not ordinarily found in raw materials or products
3.      May pose a substantial hazard to human health and environment when recycled
c.       Not solid waste when recycled
                                                              i.      Used or reused as ingredients in making a product
                                                            ii.      Used or reused as effective substitutes for commercial products
                                                          iii.      Returned to the original process from which they are generated
III.             Hazardous Wastes
a.       Two types: Characteristic and Listed
                                                              i.      Characteristic
1.      Exhibits any of these four:
a.       Ignitable = Burn easily, posing a threat of fire
b.      Corrosive = Strong acids and bases, capable of eating through metals
c.       Reactive = Unstable, with pot

, penalties
V.                CERCLA v RCRA: REMEDIES
a.       CERCLA
                                                              i.      Atty Fees: No
                                                            ii.      Recover Past Costs: Yes* (does not apply to petroleum)
                                                          iii.      Petroleum: No
b.      RCRA
                                                              i.      Atty Fees: Yes
                                                            ii.      Recover Past Costs: No
                                                          iii.      Petroleum: Yes
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (SUPERFUND ACT)
I.                   KEY SECTIONS of CERCLA
a.       § 104 => EPA cleans up
b.      § 106 => EPA orders you to clean up
c.       § 107 => You clean up and sue others to recover costs
d.      § 113 => Right of action to seek contribution
II.                REMARKS
a.       Strict liability
b.      Retroactive
c.       Remedial focus
d.      Joint and several liability
e.       Limited causation
III.             PROBLEMS
a.       Textual ambiguity
b.      Unhelpful legislative history
a.       Release or threat of release
b.      Of a hazardous substance
c.       From a facility
a.       Removal – short-term, temporary action
b.      Remedial – long-term solution
a.       HRS – Hazardous Ranking System
                                                              i.      What’s there
                                                            ii.      How bad it is
                                                          iii.      What’s around it
                                                          iv.      What are the likely pathways of exposure
b.      NPL – National Priority List
                                                              i.      In order for gov’t to be able to act, site must be on the NPL
c.       RI/FS – Remedial investigation and feasibility study
                                                              i.      What should the remedy be
                                                            ii.      Determine cost effectiveness of possible remedies
d.      RAP – Remedial Action Plan
                                                              i.      Must be compliant with the National Contingency Plan
e.       ROD – Record of Decision
                                                              i.      Presents the selected remedial action
                                                            ii.      Explains the factual and legal basis
                                                          iii.      Establish “Institutional Controls”
1.      Site fence, deed restrictions, etc.
                                                          iv.      Determine and describe alternatives