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Atlanta Environmental Law Blog

Paper talks about long-term effects of chemical exposure

Chemical exposure is something that all of us have to worry about in our lives, to one extent or another. Whether one is looking at exposure to toxic household products, water pollution, pesticides on our produce, or toxic exposure in the workplace, all of us have to deal with it at some level.

Most of the time, the little bit of exposure we get is not something most of us have to worry about, at least right now. Or so we assume. According to a paper recently published in the journal Endocrinology, though, chemical exposure of parents can have an impact on their child’s development years later. 

Seeking relief for water pollution: work with an experienced attorney

In our last post, we began speaking about the problem of devaluation of lakeside property out in Vermont due to the growth of blue-green algae fueled by excess phosphorus from paved roads, farms, and sewage plants. The story raises the issue of what options homeowners have when they suffer harm—to their property or to themselves—as a result of water pollution.

The answer really depends on the circumstances of the case. It is possible, in some case, to pursue polluting parties under state law. Such claims might be based on theories of trespass, nuisance, negligence, or strict liability, depending on the circumstances of the alleged pollution. While these claims can be viable, it is often easier to pursue water pollution litigation under federal law, particularly the Clean Water Act. 

Water pollution can lead to devaluation of lakeside properties, P.1

Water pollution can have a number of negative effects, including loss of wildlife, health concerns, and loss of natural resources. The impact of any of these effects is obviously greater the more people had been making use and taking advantage of the contaminated water source. Another potential effect of water contamination, and one that can be particularly costly for those affected, is property devaluation.

Water pollution, when it affects lakeside properties, can end up drastically reducing the value of property. That is exactly what is happening for property owners in the Vermont town of Georgia. The problem there seems to be that accumulated runoff from paved roads, farms, sewage plants and other sources has brought in an excess of phosphorus, which has fostered growth of blue green algae.

Clean Power Plan to spur new compliance efforts in power industry

Readers may have heard that President Obama released some of the details of his Clean Power Plan earlier this week. The plan, which was first proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency last year, has the purpose of setting national standards limiting carbon pollution connected to power plants, which are the largest source of emissions.

Prior to the Clean Power Plan, power plants had no limits on carbon emissions. The Clean Power Plan requires power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030. That is obviously a tall order, and one which will be a challenge for many plants, even given the flexibility built into the plan. 

Use of artificial turf increases, despite toxicity concerns

Sports advocates here in Georgia and elsewhere have probably heard of the trend toward using artificial turf fields made up of small pellets of crumb rubber, which comes from old recycled tires. Crumb rubber is often used for football and soccer fields as it provides cushioning for players when they fall, but there are also concerns about the toxicity of the rubber pellets.

In some areas, there is a growing opposition to use of crumb rubber because of the potential health risks to athletes, though there is debate as to how legitimate the concern is. Some municipalities have debated putting a moratorium on artificial turf. At the same time, use of synthetic turf is rapidly growing in some areas in order to support expansion of athletics programs. According to the both the EPA and a Georgia-based group turf industry group, the number of fields has more than doubled since 2009, and crumb rubber is used in nearly all of them.

Lawmakers support reform of federal law addressing toxic chemicals, P.2

In our last post, we mentioned that there is legislation currently under consideration in the House of Representatives which would update the Toxic Substances Control Act by expediting the review process for chemicals used in consumer products and give states more authority to pass their own regulations as well as provide companies better guidance on the use of chemicals in their manufacturing process.

The Toxic Substances Control Act entails compliance with various rules, and companies that fail to follow these rules can expect to face enforcement efforts from the EPA and state authorities, which result in fines and orders to make the appropriate changes to come into compliance with federal law. 

Lawmakers support reform of federal law addressing toxic chemicals, P.1

Staying healthy these days is a challenge, not only in terms of diet, exercise and proper rest, but also in terms of avoiding toxic chemicals in the products we use every day. Because of the impact of toxic chemicals on health and quality of life, the issue is something all of us should be concerned about as consumers.

Federal law addresses the issue of toxic chemicals found in consumer products through the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was originally passed in 1967. Under the TSCA, the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to require manufacturers to report and keep records regarding the chemicals they use in their products, as well as to restrict the use of certain chemicals that are considered too dangerous to use. 

Georgia joins lawsuit over new Clean Water Act regulation

Along with eight other states, Georgia has reportedly joined in on a lawsuit filed against the Environmental Protection Agency over a new clean water rule which would give the government authority to regulate tributaries leading to rivers and streams covered by the Clean Water Act.  

The latter, as readers may know, covers all navigable waters, but the new rule would extend the scope of regulation even further to water sources that feed navigable waters. The rationale behind the extension is that, since tributaries feed into navigable waterways, they should be protected from pollution the same way.

Supreme Court: EPA failed to conduct cost-benefit analysis with emissions regulation

Readers all heard earlier this week about the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding marriage rights, but the court also issued other opinions as well. One of these opinions dealt with a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to regulate coal plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants. This effort met with a significant challenge from 20 states and various interest groups.

The regulation aimed to reduce the 2005 carbon emissions level by 30 percent by 2030. The problem, according to critics, was that the costs of meeting that goal would be significant. From a legal perspective, critics argued, the EPA has to take into account the cost of regulations in enforcing the Clean Air Act, from which the regulations would draw their authority. The agency did not do this when it passed the regulation. 

Pope’s encyclical brings greater awareness of environmental responsibility

Regardless of where you fall in terms of religion and politics, the buzz surrounding Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment is certainly interesting. Those who are familiar with the Catholic Church’s teaching on the issue know that concern for the environment has become an increasingly important message, even if that concern has been voiced by previous popes and has been around for years.

For those who haven’t had the chance to read through the encyclical, TIME offers a brief synopsis of the major points. These points are: that climate change is a fact and that it is becoming worse; that the human population does have a significant impact on climate change; that governments and lawmakers have a responsibility to address the situation; and that climate change affects developing nations disproportionately. You may or may not agree with these points, but very few will disagree with the effort to bring increased awareness to environmental responsibility. 

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