The oldest nuclear power plant in the United States will permanently close Monday, after years of wrangling with emergency shutdowns and pollution concerns.Read more
A series of gas explosions an official described as “Armageddon” killed a teenager, injured at least 10 other people and ignited fires in at least 39 homes in three communities north of Boston on Thursday, forcing entire neighborhoods to evacuate as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas.Read more
RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – The Fourth Circuit held Wednesday that an arsenic leak from a Virginia coal ash pond is not a violation of the Clean Water Act, The ruling is a blow to environmentalists who are currently arguing otherwise around the country.
In a 24-page opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer, a Reagan appointee, was unmoved by the plaintiff Sierra Club’s argument that ponds containing toxic discharge from coal-fired power plants were seeping dangerous chemicals into groundwater in violation of the Clean Water Act.
The Sierra Club, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, claimed Dominion Virginia Power had allowed rainwater to seep into and ultimately through coal ash ponds linked to a Chesapeake Bay-area power plant, and that arsenic was carried into the groundwater around the facility, and , eventually, into oceans, rivers in streams.
The Clean Water Act only allows the government to punish entities who dump without a permit into “navigable” waters. For years environmental groups have tried to link coal ash ponds to navigable water sources, however Niemeyer, in line with judges before him, adopted a literal interpretation of the federal law and found otherwise.
Neimeyer said the law requires violating water sources to be a “discrete conveyance” which includes “any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft.”
“Here, the arsenic was found to have leached from static accumulations of coal ash on the initiative of rainwater or groundwater, thereby polluting the groundwater and ultimately navigable waters,” Neimeyer wrote. “In this context, the landfill and ponds were not created to convey anything and did not function in that manner; they certainly were not discrete conveyances.”
In a statement, lawyers for the Southern Environmental Law center said they were disappointed with the court’s decision and warned of the continued threat posed by the existing ash ponds.
“Of the 3.4 million tons of coal ash at the site, 2.1 million tons of coal ash is sitting in unlined lagoons, with the ash in some areas extending six feet below sea level,” the group said. “Any closure proposal for this facility should ensure that arsenic is no longer dumped in the river, and take into account the vulnerability of the site to storm surges, hurricanes, and daily tidal erosion in order to protect the citizens of Chesapeake.”
The group, and its clients at the Sierra Club, however, found a silver lining in the decision in the court’s linking the presence of arsenic in the ground water with the ponds.
“Arsenic is in the water and Dominion put it there,” said Nachy Kanfer, acting eastern regional director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “But the court found we could not bring an enforcement under the Clean Water Act to address that pollution.”
Kanfer pointed to similar suits aiming to consider coal ash ponds point sources that were heard in Kentucky and Tennessee and have worked their way into higher courts in those regions. He said he attended 6th Circuit hearings in those cases and the judges seemed interested in understanding the matter.
“This decision is not the last word on the matter,” he said.Read more
The European General Court upheld sanctions Thursday as part of an effort to make it more costly for Russia to continue destabilization efforts in the Ukraine.Read more
In a move destined to confuse tourists and cross-border workers alike, the European Commission said Wednesday it will push to end seasonal clock changes in 2019 – and let member states decide “whether their citizens live in summer or wintertime.”Read more
Europe could see an increase in greenhouse gas levels over the next several decades due to a new directive that classifies wood as a renewable fuel – giant steps backward from the mandates of the Paris Climate Agreement – according to a scientific paper published Wednesday.Read more
In a win for landowners, Bayou Bridge Pipeline said it will stop construction of its crude oil pipeline through 38 acres of private property in Louisiana after an owner filed for an injunction to halt the project.Read more
Countering the Trump administration’s call for more coal and oil, California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday inked legislation that requires utilities to obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2045.Read more
Completely offsetting the effects of burning coal for electricity in the United States would require covering 89 percent of the nation in forests, according to a new study.Read more
A group of five nonprofits focused on energy and the environment claims in court that the Tennessee Valley Authority’s new rate hikes are designed to discourage homeowners from installing solar panels on their properties.Read more
Massive wind and solar energy installations in the Sahara and nearby Sahel deserts would increase local temperatures, rainfall and vegetation – all benefits for the region, according to a climate-modeling study published Thursday in the journal Science.Read more
A class of landowners in Oklahoma and Kansas announced Thursday the settlement of a federal antitrust lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy and others for nearly $7 million, ending claims filed a day after indicted former CEO Aubrey McClendon died in a fiery single-car crash.Read more
A lobby group representing European automakers warned Tuesday that EU proposals for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide could result in manufacturing job losses.Read more
California State Senate leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said Friday night that a closely watched bill seeking to merge the state into a regional energy market with other Western states won’t be brought up for a vote in this legislative session.Read more
Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal has quashed the approval of the contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would nearly triple the flow of oil from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast.Read more
For more than a year, California lawmakers have debated Senate Bill 100, an ambitious plan that sets the goal of 100 percent clean, reliable and sustainable energy statewide by 2045. The measure passed Tuesday after overcoming a four-vote shortfall on the Assembly floor.Read more
A federal judge upheld a Maine city’s ban on the bulk loading of crude oil onto tankers in its harbor Friday, derailing a pipeline operator’s plan to reverse the flow of oil along its conduit.Read more
Greek authorities have declared a state of emergency on the resort island of Hydra after a power failure blacked out the island and disrupted its water supply.Read more
As the Permian Basin region in Texas and New Mexico continues to experience a historic oil boom, a new study has found that water usage for hydraulic fracturing has increased nearly eightfold in the semi-arid region over a five-year period.Read more