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  • Key West Follows Hawaii’s Lead, Bans Sale of Certain Sunscreens to Protect Coral Reefs
  • February 8th, 2019 — by Catherine Janasie — Category: Environmental Law Water Quality

  • This week the City Commission of Key West voted 6-1 to ban the sale of sunscreens containing chemicals that could harm coral reefs. The banned chemicals are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can damage reefs by contributing to coral bleaching and death. Key West’s action follows legislation passed by the state of Hawaii last year which prohibits the sale of the same chemicals.


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  • Federal Court Prohibits Offshore Seismic Testing During Government Shutdown
  • January 24th, 2019 — by Amanda Nichols — Category: Environmental Law

  • On January 21, the U.S. District Court in South Carolina blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to continue preparatory work for offshore drilling during the federal government’s partial shutdown. This ruling comes in response to a decision from the Trump administration issued earlier this month that called back Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) workers to continue processing offshore seismic testing permits in the Atlantic. The testing, which involves loud airgun blasts underwater, is a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, and is opposed by many coastal communities in South Carolina due to its potential to cause environmental harm.


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  • President Trump Signs New Legislation Concerning Harmful Algal Blooms
  • January 18th, 2019 — by Catherine Janasie — Category: Water Quality

  • While nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that naturally occur in aquatic ecosystems, the presence of these nutrients in excessive quantities causes risks to human health and results in substantial economic and environmental harms. Nutrient pollution is primarily caused by several human activities, including municipal wastewater discharges, stormwater runoff, and agricultural discharges, such as fertilized cropland manure and runoff.


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  • Modern Fish Act Targets Recreational Fishers
  • January 11th, 2019 — by Terra Bowling — Category: Fisheries

  • On New Year’s Eve, President Trump signed the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018” (Modern Fish Act) into law. The Act amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to address the management of federal recreational fisheries. The bill, introduced in 2017 by Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Garret Graves, had more than a dozen cosponsors in both the House and Senate.


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  • ESA Case Update- Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 139 S. Ct. 361 (2018)
  • December 19th, 2018 — by Cathy Janasie — Category: Endangered Species

  • The U.S. Supreme Court recently vacated and remanded a case involving the critical habitat designation of the dusky gopher frog, a mid-size frog about three inches long that can be black, brown, or gray in color, giving the frog its “dusky” name. The frog gets its “gopher” name because it spends the majority of its time underground in burrows or stump holes in open canopy forests. One of the frog’s most recognizable and endearing traits is that it uses its front legs to cover its eyes when it feels threatened.


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  • EPA and Army Propose New WOTUS Definition
  • December 14th, 2018 — by Terra Bowling — Category: Clean Water Act

  • On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a proposed rule defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The phrase determines the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Congress enacted the CWA without defining WOTUS, and its meaning has been debated and litigated extensively.


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  • Federal Court of Appeals Upholds U.S. Ban on Mexican Seafood Imports
  • December 7th, 2018 — by Amanda Nichols — Category: Endangered Species

  • On November 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a months-old ban on the importation of Mexican shrimp and other seafood caught using gillnets. The import ban was promulgated in response to gillnets’ impact on the critically endangered vaquita porpoise—of which there are only fifteen members remaining in the wild. The species is killed at a rate of about fifty percent annually due to their accidental entanglement in gillnets used in the Upper Gulf of California, Mexico. This ruling marks the most recent in a line of failed legal challenges several U.S. governmental agencies have made in a hope to have the ban struck down.


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  • Diver Wins Claim for Chemical Burns Suffered During Point Reyes Restoration Project
  • November 29th, 2018 — by Terra Bowling — Category: Torts

  • Last year, a commercial diver hired to assist with a National Park Service project to restore the Point Reyes National Seashore in California filed suit against two companies hired to complete the restoration. Matthew Zugsberger made several claims against the companies, including general maritime law claims for maintenance and cure, negligence, wrongful termination, fraud, and labor claims. In September, a court ruled on the maintenance and cure claims, finding that Zugsberger must be compensated for injuries incurred during the project.


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  • No Remedy Yet for D.C. Residents with Sewage-Filled Basements
  • November 19th, 2018 — by Grace Sullivan — Category: Environmental Law

  • The twenty-one plaintiffs in the case of Miller v. D.C. Water and Sewer Authority are D.C. residents who had what a federal judge called “the distinct misfortune” of living on Delafield Place in November of 2016. At that time, the basements of each of the plaintiffs’ single-family homes were filled with more than two feet of raw sewage, including industrial and commercial waste. Plaintiffs described the eruption of sewage from their basement toilets as “overwhelming,” “nauseating,” and “terrifying.”


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  • Injurious Species Listing for Quagga Mussel on the Horizon
  • November 16th, 2018 — by Stephanie Showalter Otts — Category: Invasive Species

  • On November 14, the United States Senate passed the “Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018” by almost unanimous vote. The bill will now move to the House of Representatives for reconciliation, where it is expected to pass.


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