Environmental

Department of Agriculture Urges Compliance on Use of Herbicides Containing Dicamba

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is asking farmers to comply with recent changes to federal guidelines when using herbicides containing dicamba — commonly used to control weeds when growing soybean and cotton — that are approved for “over-the-top” use. “We have reviewed EPA’s new label requirements and have determined that they address and in some cases, exceed the steps we have taken in Tennessee to help farmers use these products responsibly,” said Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton. “We will not seek additional restrictions. Instead, we will focus on helping producers comply while promoting commonsense practices to further protect sensitive areas.” Use of the chemical has spurred controversy in the state, making headlines for its effect on cyprus trees around Reelfoot Lake.

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EPA Proposes Changes to How it Evaluates Health, Safety Benefits in Mercury Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency last Friday announced proposed changes to how the federal government evaluates the health and safety benefits versus cost of compliance regarding the limitation of mercury emissions from coal plants, The Washington Post reports. While the proposal will not dissolve the Obama Administration’s 2011 rule limiting the mercury emissions for the plants, it would reconfigure the formula used when doing a cost-benefit analysis for future rules by accounting for only benefits that be measured in real dollars and omitting “co-benefits” such as abstract health effects. Mercury exposure is known to cause neurological disorders, cardiovascular harm, endocrine disruption and cognitive impairment in children.

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TVA Seeks Public Input on Future of Coal Ash at Allen Fossil Plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is currently accepting public input regarding options for the closure of its coal ash storage areas at the former Allen Fossil Plant near Memphis to assist in developing an environmental impact statement, according to a press release on its website. TVA estimates that almost 3 million cubic yards of coal ash and other coal combustion residuals remain in the ash impoundments at the site, which was closed in March. 
 
Comments may be submitted online, or sent by email or mail to Ashley Farless, NEPA Compliance Specialist, Tennessee Valley Authority, 1101 Market Street, BR4A-C, Chattanooga, TN 37402. To be considered, comments must be received no later than Jan. 4, 2019. All comments will become part of the project's administrative record, including the names and addresses of those who participate.
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Former TBA Environmental Law Section Chair LeAnn Mynatt Remembered

After a five-year battle with cancer, former Environmental Law Section Chair Mary LeAnn Mynatt passed away on Oct. 3.
 
Mynatt was an environmental attorney for Baker Donelson for 20 years, receiving many awards including Best Lawyers in America in Environmental Law since 2007; Best Lawyers in America 2016 Knoxville Environmental Litigation "Lawyer of the Year;" Mid-South Super Lawyers 2011 and 2012; Top Attorney in Environmental Law in City View magazine 2007 and 2012; Adjunct Professor, Environmental Law & Policy, University of Tennessee College of Law 2008 and her most cherished award – the ABA Courage in the Face of Adversity award 2015. Mynatt's family has set up a memorial fund in her name to benefit UT Medical Center's Gynecologic Cancers Education Fund. You can send donations in memory of LeAnn to UT Medical Center, c/o Development Office, 2121 Medical Center Way, Knoxville, TN 37920 - memo to Gyn Cancer Education.
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Thanks to Our Sponsors

Thanks to Bass, Berry & Sims and Burr & Forman for sponsoring this newsletter for the Environmental Law Section.

Bass, Berry & Sims is committed to achieving excellent results for its clients at every stage of litigation. Across the country, the firm is known for leading bet-the-company litigation including class actions, MDLs, trials and appeals, and government investigations. Its core practice areas include products liability and torts, securities litigation, privacy and data security, financial services, and healthcare fraud. Bass, Berry & Sims is also dedicated to improving diversity within the legal profession and bettering its communities through pro bono work.

Burr & Forman is an experienced legal team serving clients with local, national and international legal needs. With particular industry strengths in the financial institutions, health care and manufacturing sectors, its attorneys draw from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience to serve as trusted business advisors and legal counsel to help clients achieve their goals. Burr & Forman is a Southeast, regional firm with 300 attorneys and 12 offices in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

 

  

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Message From the Chair

The 2018-2019 TBA membership year is off to a great start.  We’ve had excellent engagement from our Environmental Law Section Council Members and are busy planning two CLEs.  The first will be Feb. 1 in Nashville and the second will be May 15-17 in Chattanooga. The February CLE will include a discussion of brownfields, Tennessee water rules amendments, emerging contaminants and ethics. The May CLE will take place, once again, in conjunction with the Environmental Show of the South (ESOS). If you have ideas for topics or would like to be a presenter or panelist at the ESOS CLE, please contact Katherine Barnes. Both CLEs are great opportunities to learn the latest developments in the law and enjoy interacting with other section members and environmental practitioners. Please save the dates!
 
Speaking of opportunities to connect with the section, this newsletter is another great opportunity to connect with section members. We are always looking for articles from our members and sponsors of the newsletter. If you have written on an environmental topic recently or would like to develop an article for the newsletter, please consider submitting your article for publication in our quarterly newsletter. Sponsorship of the newsletter provides an opportunity to reach our broad membership and supports the Section's annual John Hastings Writing Competition. For more information about the newsletter, please contact this year’s Section Newsletter Editor Ashley Ball
 
In addition to planning a February CLE in Nashville and a May CLE in Chattanooga, the Council also hopes to have an after-work social gathering in the Memphis area on March 14. I’m looking forward to all that we are planning and to continuing to work with the Environmental Law Section members.
 
I hope to see you soon!

Jenny Howard, General Counsel, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Chair of the TBA Environmental Law Section

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TDEC Releases First Solicitation for Projects Under Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has released a final Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP) for implementing the State’s initial allocation of $45.7 million from the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement (VW Settlement) Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT). The purpose of the EMT is to execute environmental mitigation projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
  
“The goal of this plan is to reduce air pollutants that negatively impact our environment and public health,” said TDEC Commissioner Dr. Shari Meghreblian. “We look forward to supporting projects in our state that will ultimately lead to an enhanced quality of life for Tennesseans.”
 
TDEC released the first solicitation for projects in October. Under this solicitation, $8,710,353.78 in EMT funding is available for eligible Class 4-8 school bus projects. The grant program, managed by TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs, will provide financial assistance to public, nonprofit and private fleets in Tennessee that apply to receive funding to replace a minimum of one eligible school bus with any new diesel, Alternate Fueled or All-Electric school bus. School buses eligible for replacement include 2009 engine model year or older Class 4-8 school buses sold or introduced into interstate commerce for purposes that include carrying students to and from school or related events. Eligible school buses may include Type A-D school buses.
 
Applications must be received by 4 p.m. CST on Dec. 14, 2018. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted electronically via the TDEC Online Grants Management System. Awards are expected to be announced in January 2019, and the expected timeframe for grant contracting efforts will be March 2019. For more information, click here.
 
TDEC will also release additional solicitations in the coming months for Class 4-8 shuttle and transit bus projects, Class 4-7 local freight truck projects, Class 8 local freight truck and port drayage truck projects, and light duty zero emission vehicle supply equipment projects.
 
Interested persons and entities are advised to sign up for the TDEC VW email list to be kept apprised of all future and related announcements. For additional information on the VW Settlement, visit the TDEC website.

Alexa Voytek and Shauna Basques are with the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation's Office of Energy Programs.

 

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Lawsuit Involving US Nitrogen Pipelines Settled for Undisclosed Amount

A longstanding legal battle between landowners and builders of a double pipeline connecting the Greene County US Nitrogen plant to the Nolichucky River ended this month with a confidential settlement, The Citizen Tribune reports. The landowners initially filed a petition asking Davidson County Chancery Court to stop the installation, with some residents claiming the company trespassed on their property during construction. The pipelines, which are used to transfer water from the river to the plant for use in manufacturing liquid ammonium nitrate then to discharge effluent water back into the river, also came under fire from The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation earlier this year for negatively impacting water quality in the area.

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Environmental Show of the South Seeking Abstracts from Potential Presenters

The Environmental Show of the South — the largest and most comprehensive environmental conference and trade show in the region — will make its return to the Chattanooga Convention Center on May 15-17, 2019 and is currently fielding abstracts from potential presenters. Presentations and panel discussions must have a clear purpose and objective which will maintain, improve, or expand the skills and knowledge for professionals in environmental law, geared towards providing training and education of attendees. You can learn more about the program, including how to submit your abstract using this link.

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Tennessee Aquarium Joins Alliance to Curb Plastic Pollution

The Chattanooga Aquarium has joined a group of 22 aquariums across the country in a coordinated campaign to curb plastic pollution, The Chattanoogan reports. The Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) is encouraging individuals and institutions to rein in dependence on single-use plastic items, beginning with straws. ACP hopes to recruit 500 new businesses to commit to offering plastic straws for request only by Earth Day 2019.

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