October 17, 2013
Earlier this month, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued new guidance for assessing perchloroethylene (PCE) in indoor and outdoor air. According to the new guidance, the maximum recommended concentration of PCE in air was revised down from 100 mcg/m3 to 30 mcg/m3. According to NYSDOH, this move was prompted by a recent EPA study which found greater health risks from PCE than previously understood.
PCE, also known as PERC or tetrachloroethylene, is used to dry clean fabrics, to degrease metal parts, and to manufacture other chemicals. It enters indoor and outdoor air through evaporation.
This change in guidance will have a number of important ramifications. First and most directly, it expands the applicability of New York’s tenant notification law. Under New York law, landlords must notify tenants where PCE in the air exceeds NYSDOH’s guideline. The new, lowered guideline will increase the likelihood that notice will be required where PCE vapor is detected. Additionally, NYSDOH has prepared a new fact sheet, which must be provided to tenants in such situations.
Second, the new guidelines can be expected to drive more stringent cleanup standards related to preventing soil vapor intrusion from PCE contamination, since cleanup standards typically take account of NYSDOH standards for health protection and soil vapor intrusion issues have been a focus of regulatory action in New York in recent years.
Finally, the new guidelines may affect real estate transactions, as they may complicate Phase I and Phase II analyses of site contamination and expand the scope of conditions recognized as problematic.
For further information, please contact Christine Leas.
October 10, 2013
Eight SPR partners have been honored as top environmental attorneys in the New York Metro Area by Super Lawyers Magazine for 2013. Super Lawyers is a listing of “outstanding lawyers … who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.”
Michael S. Bogin, Mark A. Chertok, Dan Chorost, Scott E. Furman, Jeffrey B. Gracer, and David S. Yudelson were named as among the best lawyers in the environmental field. David Paget and Daniel Riesel were honored in the environmental litigation field. More attorneys from SPR were selected in these two fields than from any other law office in the New York Metro Area.
Super Lawyers creates an annual list of outstanding attorneys after conducting a “rigorous and multiphase process” that includes polling, peer nominations, and independent evaluations of professional activity, transactions, and honors.
For more information about Super Lawyers Magazine and its selection process, visit its website.
On October 4, 2013, Justice Cynthia Kern of New York County Supreme Court rendered a decision dismissing a State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) challenge to the City Point project currently under construction in Downtown Brooklyn. In the case, a community organization and a number of labor unions were seeking to enjoin further construction of this billion-dollar project, which will include retail and market-rate and affordable housing. Their principal allegation was that New York City, which is leasing the property to the developers, should have supplemented the prior environmental review conducted for the project to analyze the potential socioeconomic impacts on the community of below-prevailing wages being paid to project construction workers.
Justice Kern dismissed the proceeding in its entirety. She first held that the petitioners lacked standing because the injuries they claimed were economic in nature, and therefore not within SEQRA’s zone of interests, and/or that the petitioners had not alleged any injuries they would suffer that were different than the community at large. Justice Kern re-affirmed prior authority that SEQRA does not provide a general right of action to all citizens, and noted that there is no precedent for the notion that low construction wages are an environmental impact recognized under SEQRA. Justice Kern further held that the claims were barred by the four-month statute of limitations applying to Article 78 proceedings, because the 2007 lease for the property allowed for wages as low as minimum wage to be paid to construction workers, and the petitioners manifestly knew at least by October 2012 that the project was not paying prevailing wages, as they had written to the developers complaining of that fact at the time. (The proceeding was commenced in May 2013.)
SPR attorneys David Paget, Elizabeth Knauer and Adam Stolorow represented the developer respondents: Acadia Realty Trust, Albee Development LLC, Washington Square Partners, Inc. and BFC Partners Development LLC.
For more information about this case or SEQRA review and litigation, please contact David Paget or Elizabeth Knauer.
October 4, 2013
On Monday, EPA announced the Record of Decision which outlines the final plan to clean up the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York. EPA, in its press release, called the site “one of the nation’s most seriously contaminated bodies of water.” The canal was classified a “Superfund site” and added to the EPA’s National Priorities List in 2010. EPA proposed a remedial plan for the cleanup in December 2012, which was in large part adopted as the final remedy for the site in Monday’s Record of Decision.
Key components of the cleanup, which is projected to cost $506 million, include:
- Removing approximately 600,000 cubic yards of sediment by dredging;
- Capping dredged areas;
- Stabilizing deep sediment containing coal tar through mixing with other materials prior to capping; and
- Reducing flow from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) by 58-74%, by constructing retention tanks near two outfalls and adding green infrastructure.
The cleanup has been divided into three segments which correspond to the upper, middle and lower portions of the canal, with the majority of the cost associated with the first two segments. Dredged sediments contaminated with coal tar will be thermally treated to remove organic contaminants and then put to beneficial reuse where possible. Less contaminated sediment will be stabilized and reused where possible as well.
The EPA stressed that the cleanup will be funded by those parties who are legally responsible for the contamination. The EPA has already identified a number of potentially responsible parties, including private corporations, the City of New York and other federal government entities.
For more information on the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site, contact Daniel Riesel or David Yudelson.
September 27, 2013
On September 20, 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) proposed carbon dioxide emissions standards for new coal- and gas-fired power plants, the latest in a series of EPA initiatives regulating greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”).
The proposal marks EPA’s second attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. In March 2012, EPA proposed a rule that would have set a single emissions limit applicable to each new coal and gas-fired power plant. After receiving more than 2.5 million public comments, EPA withdrew that rule and has now replaced it with proposed standards that vary based on fuel source.
The proposed limit of 1,100 lbs of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (“CO2/MWh”) for new coal-fired power plants, compared to 1,800 lbs CO2/MWh for an average existing plant, is expected to require the installation of carbon capture and sequestration technology at any new coal-fired power plants. However, EPA projects that no conventional coal-fired plants will be built in the U.S. through 2022, even in the absence of the proposed standards, based on the relative price of coal and natural gas.
EPA’s proposed limits of 1,000-1,100 CO2/MWh for new natural gas-fired power plants reflect the emissions levels attained by many modern natural gas facilities.
While EPA’s proposal does not affect any existing power plants, or plants that commenced construction before the rule was proposed, EPA is currently in the process of developing the first federal limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. In a recent Presidential Memorandum, President Obama directed EPA to propose such standards by June 1, 2014, and to finalize them by June 1, 2015.
For more information on EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, contact Jeffrey Gracer.
September 23, 2013
According to the newly-released 2013 edition of Who’s Who Legal, five Sive, Paget and Riesel attorneys have been recognized by their peers as among the world’s “foremost legal practitioners” in environmental law: Michael S. Bogin, Mark A. Chertok, Jeffrey B. Gracer, David Paget, and Daniel Riesel.
SPR has the highest number of recognized experts in environmental law of firms in New York State, and has more environmental lawyers listed than any other single-office firm in the nation. Lawyers recognized by Who’s Who Legal have been selected based upon “comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide.”
August 27, 2013
Earlier this month, the New York Times published a series of articles discussing the ways in which the Bloomberg administration has changed New York City, in the process highlighting a number of major development projects for which SPR provided legal counsel.
The centerpiece of this series is an interactive map, entitled “Reshaping New York,” which provides, via a combination of photos and computer graphics, visualizations of how New York City has changed in the past twelve years. Notably, 37% of the city was rezoned, 40,000 new buildings were constructed, and about 800 acres of city parkland were added.
Advice from SPR attorneys helped many of the projects featured on the map come to fruition. Such projects include:
« Newer Posts — Older Posts »