Jeffrey W. Cappola


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EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases

By Jeffrey W. Cappola |   Aug. 11, 2014

The United States Supreme Court ruled in June that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must reduce its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. The EPA tried to increase two of its permit programs to include emissions of carbon dioxide from stationary sources, which the Court ruled as a violation of the Clean Air Act. The EPA “can continue to treat greenhouse gas emissions as a pollutant for so-called ‘anyway’ sources that already require a permit under the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) program for conventional pollutants like particulate matter, but cannot do the same from defining a ‘major emitting facility’ for Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) or a ‘major source’ for Title V.” Many groups that challenged the EPA’s interpretation of the rule claimed that they were trying to fit greenhouse gas regulations around the very different PSD program; the Court ruled that the EPA has no authority to “tailor” the language of the Clean Air Act to fit their policy goal. Although the EPA had some of its authority struck down, the agency was happy with the decision because it can still “require carbon pollution limits for the nation’s largest sources.”

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EPA Looks to Reduce Methane Emissions from Landfills

By Jeffrey W. Cappola |   Aug. 4, 2014

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA is proposing to require certain landfills to capture extra landfill gas in order to decrease methane emissions. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, its global warming potential is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Landfills are the third largest anthropogenic source of methane in the United States, and methane emissions account for 9% of all emitted greenhouse gases. The new proposal would require landfills to increase their capture of methane and air toxics emissions by 13% by 2023, which would mean capturing two-thirds of emissions. The estimated compliance cost of this proposal is $471,000 in 2023.

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Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil

By Jeffrey W. Cappola |   Jul. 22, 2014

In 2006, Morristown Associates filed a suit against multiple heating companies and the previous owners of a dry cleaning business to seek payment for the costs they incurred redeveloping the property. They cited the source of contamination as leaking underground storage tanks. The contamination had been the result of corroded fill pipes that failed after ten years; the pipes were intended to last at least 30 years. Approximately 9,400 to 14,670 gallons of oil leaked over 15 years and contaminated the environment.

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The Clean Water Act - Is Groundwater Included?

By Jeffrey W. Cappola |   Jul. 15, 2014

There has been much controversy in the courts as to whether groundwater can be defined as “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act. Courts are split on this decision, with equal numbers of rulings on both sides. One case that has been highlighted in this debate is Tri Realty Co. v. Ursinus College. In this case, a residential apartment complex owner claimed that Ursinus College’s underground storage tanks had leaked heating oil into the ground contaminated the soil on his property, and nearby Perkiomen Creek. The owner filed a claim under the Oil Pollution Act (“OPA”) and said that the contaminated groundwater is “hydrologically connected to Perkiomen Creek and its tributary.” The case went before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where they ruled that the Clean Water Act and OPA don’t give federal authority over groundwater. This ruling was based on the precedent set forth by Rapanos v. United States, which decided that “navigable waters” should not be broadly interpreted. Therefore, the OPA claim was dismissed on the grounds that the owner failed to claim that the oil discharged into navigable waters because groundwater is not navigable water.

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