News

Burr Partner Named TDEC Bureau Deputy Commissioner

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has announced the appointment of Gregory Young as deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Environment, The Nashville Post reports. Young was most recently a partner in the Nashville office of Burr & Forman, where he practiced in the real estate and environmental groups. He succeeds Tisha Calabrese Benton, who left to become vice chancellor for communications for the University of Tennessee.
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Court Extends Deadline for Plans to Save Aretha Franklin Birthplace

Efforts to preserve the birthplace of soul legend Aretha Franklin got another court extension today, with Shelby County Environmental Court Judge Patrick Dandridge giving parties until April 23 to finalize plans, The Daily Memphian reports. Representatives for court-appointed receiver Jeffrey Higgs and current property owner Vera House told Dandridge they're working together on plans to stabilize the house and return it to a "safe, habitable" condition. The house, located at 406 Lucy Avenue, fell into disrepair and came close to being demolished by former Environmental Judge Larry Potter. The house was eventually put into receivership, but efforts to restore it only gained momentum after Franklin's death last year.
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Gov. Lee Provides Avenue for Public Feedback on Legislation

Gov. Bill Lee has taken an additional step in his commitment to “an open and transparent government,” creating a webpage for the public to view and provide feedback on legislation that has been submitted to him for consideration. Lee maintains that involving Tennesseans into the process more directly will increase accountability in how laws are made. The site will be updated regularly, as bills pass the Legislature and land on his desk.

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TBA to Introduce Legal Document Generation

The TBA will soon launch a new subscription-based product for Tennessee lawyers — automated legal forms. The initiative will use HotDocs, a custom documentation generator that creates form templates and speeds up the preparation process based on client and case data. In order to provide this valuable resource to our members, we hope to obtain your comments and ideas on forms you deem beneficial for replication. With across-the-board participation, we can comprise a substantive, comprehensive database where subscribers will have access to forms submitted by all TBA sections. Please send suggestions and comments to TBA Membership Director Mindy Fulks.

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1-Click CLE Packages

Gain fast and easy access to annual updates with TBA's 1-Click options. Each package is listed by practice area. Updates included best practices, legislation, ethical consideration and practice tips.
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TN Dept. of Ag to Offer Good Agricultural Practices Grants

Farmers who aim to expand their markets and advocate for increased food safety measures can now receive financial assistance to become Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is offering grants to these farmers for the certification, which will allow producers to increase their income by allowing them to sell directly to businesses and institutions with stringent food safety requirements, such as grocery stores or hospitals. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis to producers only; warehouses and distributors may not apply. Learn more here or by emailing Grant Pulse at grant.pulse@tn.gov.

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EPA Civil Penalties for Polluters Fall Dramatically from Previous Years

Civil penalties for polluters dropped 85 percent this past fiscal year, falling to the lowest level since 1994, The Washington Post reports. Last year violators were fined $72 million, down from an average of $500 million annually, adjusted for inflation, over the past 25 years. In fact, former EPA official Cynthia Giles who conducted an analysis on the figures said they were the lowest since the agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance was established. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said there had been “a lot of misleading information,” claiming that while fines were down, the number of criminal enforcement cases had risen from the previous year. EPA officials declined to disclose the exact figures for past fiscal year’s civil or criminal penalties, saying it could do so only after the government shutdown had concluded.

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Chattanooga Council to Vote on $46.5 Million Sewage Project

The Chattanooga City Council will vote Feb. 5 on whether to award a construction contract in what will be the costliest component of its ongoing sewage treatment cleanup, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The $46.5 million project calls for three 10-million-gallon storage tanks near the Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant, which has released millions of gallons of sewage into the Tennessee River. In 2013, Chattanooga leaders signed an agreement with federal and state environmental regulators to have the site — known as the West Bank Outfall — contained by July 2020 in order to comply with the Clean Water Act. The city has budgeted a total of $264 million to fix and upgrade its sewer infrastructures, which service around 400,000 customers in the area.

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Judge Orders TVA Contractor Negotiate with Sickened Kingston Coal Ash Spill Workers

A federal judge is ordering a TVA contractor accused in the nation’s first and largest case of mass poisoning by coal ash to sit down at the bargaining table with sickened workers, Knoxnews reports. Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan on Friday ordered Jacobs Engineering into mediation in a toxic tort lawsuit filed on behalf of the hundreds of blue-collar laborers who were sickened — some fatally — after unprotected long-term exposure to the 7.3 million tons of coal ash that spilled from a dike at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County a decade ago. Jacobs was the firm placed in charge of the clean up process by TVA.
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Environmental Law Forum Planned for Feb. 1

The Environmental Law Section's annual forum, held on Feb. 1 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville, will present timely updates on legal issues involving brownfields, Tennessee Water Rule amendments and emerging contaminants. Government, in-house and private practice attorneys will discuss new regulations affecting these topics. Find out more and register now.
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TDEC Seeks Feedback Regarding TNH20 Water Plan

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is seeking feedback on its TNH20 water plan regarding availability and infrastructure of the state’s water supply. The plan an assessment of current water resources and recommendations to help ensure that Tennessee has an abundance of water resources to support future and economic growth. Feedback regarding the program will be accepted until Feb. 28. You can submit your comments here.

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DOE Extends Deadline Regarding CERLA Cleanup at the Oak Ridge Reservation

The U.S. Department of Energy has extended the comment deadline regarding its plan for providing additional onsite disposal capacity for waste generated from CERLA cleanup at the Oak Ridge Reservation to Jan. 9. The proposal has been controversial to residents in the area, with some signing off on a letter sent to Oakridger voicing opposition to the agency’s plan. The DOE will accept comments any time prior to the deadline. You can send your feedback via email to john.japp@orem.doe.gov, or mail them to John Michael Japp at P.O. Box 2001, Oak Ridge, TN 37831.

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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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Construction of New Fall Creek Falls Inn to Start in January

Construction is set to begin in January on the $29.4 million replacement inn at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The 95,000 square-foot building will include lodging, a restaurant and conference center; it is expected to be completed in 2020. Read more about the history of the park, recent renovations and what lead to the decision to rebuild the inn from the Times Free Press.

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Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Tennessee White-tails

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is enacting the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Response plan after finding CWD in white-tailed deer in Hardeman and Fayette counties. The condition — transmitted through animal-to-animal contact, animal contact with a contaminated environment, and with contaminated feed or water sources — has no known risk to humans or livestock, however, it is 100 percent fatal to deer and elk. More information can be found on TWRA’s website

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Join Us Today: LAW TECH

Today's the day! Discover the newest technology for your law practice and law office at this year's Law Tech Blast at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville!

The flexible open house format allows you to create your own schedule. You can attend CLE sessions, enter to win prizes, network with attendees, visit with sponsors and interact with speakers. Take as many or as few CLE hours as you need. Only those seeking to be awarded CLE Credit will be charged. The registration desk will be open all day, so you can come and go for the hours you need when it is convenient for you. Attendees can earn up to 6.5 hours of Dual CLE credit.

CLE TOPICS:
  • GDPR, Cloud and Technological Competency
  • The Bill and Phil Tech Show 2019: BEAT THE CLOCK
  • Best Practices: Information Security for Firms
  • Judicial Panel: Technology in the Courtroom
  • Know When to Hold 'Em
  • Digital Evidence – A Technical Life Raft for the Legal Mind
  • Make it Rain: Ethics Guidelines and Practice Essentials

ATTEND TO WIN: Attendees will have a chance to win prizes, including an iPad Pro. The tech prize drawing will be held at the 10:30 a.m. break. Must be present to win.

TAKE A LYFT: TBA has partnered with Lyft to offer attendees a discounted ride.

  • New to Lyft?: Get $5 off 2 rides at http://lyft.com/i/lawtech5 or download the app and enter code LAWTECH5
  • Already Have Lyft?: Save 10% off 2 rides to or from Law Tech Blast with code LAWTECH

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS & EXHIBITORS:


 

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Give the Gift of TBA Membership

Give yourself (or a friend) the gift that keeps giving — one-year of unlimited access to professional development opportunities and a number of programs and services designed to help you become a better practitioner. Founded in 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association is dedicated to enhancing fellowship among members of the state's legal community. Oh, and did we mention some of the benefits? Earn three pre-paid credits to use on any live or online course featured in the 12-days of CLE. Join now!

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Meigs County Landowners Fight TVA Land Access

A Meigs County landowner is fighting back on TVA’s plans to run a high-voltage transmission line across his property, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Georgetown farmer Greg Vital has filed a suit contesting U.S. District Court Judge Sandy Mattice's grant of a temporary easement allowing access to several properties to survey potential tower sites for the transmission line, which will serve the organization's new 185,000-square-foot power control center in Chattanooga. TVA maintains that it chose the rural Meigs County site to provide greater security and make it less vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse attacks or other potential threats to TVA's power grid.

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Farm Owners Prepare to Fight TVA Over Access to Land for Meigs County Power Center

Farm owners have hired legal representation and are preparing for a fight after a federal judge signed an order giving the Tennessee Valley Authority access to several farms along the route to a planned $300 million power center in Meigs County, The Chattanoogan reports. Judge Sandy Mattice's order says the farm lands "are deemed to be condemned and taken for the use of the United States" with compensation to be determined for the owners. The farm owners say they have only had a few months notice of the taking, but that TVA has been planning it for several years.
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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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