News

Environmental Law Section Invites You to Commissioner's Reception on May 15

The TBA Environmental Law Section invites its members to a reception honoring the new Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers. The reception will be held in Chattanooga on May 15, coinciding with the Environmental Show of the South. This is a great opportunity to network with section members and other professionals in the Tennessee environmental community while welcoming Salyers into his new role as commissioner. Here are the key details:
 
When: Wednesday, May 15, 5 p.m., EDT
Where:  Chattanooga Convention Center, South Rotunda, 1150 Carter St, Chattanooga 
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NYC Imposes Regulations on Greenhouse Gas Emitted by Buildings

New York City is taking a new step in its effort to combat climate change by imposing stricter limits on greenhouse gasses emitted by buildings, The New York Times reports. The plan is staunchly opposed by real estate executives because of associated costs for compliance, with estimates exceeding $4 billion. Some buildings will be exempted from the caps, including apartment complexes with rent-controlled units, places of worship and affordable housing communities, however, those buildings will still be required to take other energy-saving measures. This legislation is part of a group of bills passed yesterday known as the Climate Mobilization Act, which seeks a 40% decrease in emissions by the year 2030.

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Tennessee AG Joins Coalition Pushing for Replacement of Obama-era Environmental Rule

Attorney General Herbert Slatery joined a 17-state coalition this week in urging the Trump administration to adopt a replacement of the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule. The rule extended the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to regulate bodies of water. The Trump Administration proposal would restore jurisdiction to the states.
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7 New Job Postings on TBA’s Joblink

See who is hiring in Tennessee. Recent job postings this month offer opportunities in litigation, real estate, health law and more. See full listings or post positions in your firm on TBA’s Joblink.
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Register Now to Get Early Bird Rate for TBA Convention in Nashville

The Tennessee Bar Association returns to Downtown Nashville's Renaissance Hotel for its Annual Convention June 12-15, with even better programming, exhibits and fun! Register NOW and receive:

  • Free Access to ALL 9 Hours of CLE, including the Bench Bar Program, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Judicial Conference
  • Opening welcome reception
  • Bench Bar Luncheon (featuring keynote speaker, Ken Starr)
  • Law School and General Breakfasts
  • Lawyers Luncheon (featuring special honor for Sen. Lamar Alexander)
  • Thursday night joint reception sponsored with TLAW and TABL
  • Thursday night Dinner/Dance Party featuring My So-Called Band
  • Friday night TBALL/YLD Party
  • Access to activities and programming designed for well-being including massages, contemplative space and more.
  • Access to TBA's sponsorship hall to meet with exhibitors, participate in our special TBA Wellness Corner and win prizes.
• QUESTIONS: Just email convention@tnbar.org to get help.
 

Early Bird Registration ends April 30, so register now to save $$$

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Legal Battle Over Toxic Waste in Tennessee Town Heats Up

A rural community in west Tennessee continues its fight against a waste management company regarding a toxic substance that has polluted area water sources and devastated local vegetation, USA Today reports. In 1999, the town of Bath Springs contracted North Carolina corporation Waste Industries to assume operations of its landfill that was used for local waste in Decatur County. Subsequently, under new management, the landfill began to accept “special waste” characterized as being "difficult or dangerous" to contain, which is more profitable than household trash but when exposed to elements excretes an ooze called leachate that finds its way into the soil and ultimately the water supply. Waste Industries later announced plans to abandon the landfill and sued the county, maintaining the municipality was derelict in its responsibilities to “to provide for the disposal and treatment of the leachate” and is in breach of the initial agreement. The county filed its own lawsuit against Waste Industries, alleging violations of federal clean air and water acts. The lawsuit against the county is scheduled for a status conference on May 10 in Tennessee Western District Court, Judge S. Thomas Anderson presiding.

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Registration Now Open for TBA Convention in Nashville, June 12-15

 
The TBA's annual Convention returns to downtown Nashville this summer! Mark your calendars for June 12-15 and prepare for four days of CLE, networking, entertainment and more at the Renaissance Hotel, 611 Commerce Street. Registration is officially open, with early bird rates available until April 30.
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Environmental Law Forum 2019

The TBA Environmental Law Section presented its annual forum to a packed house at the Tennessee Bar Center on Feb. 1. Through the dedication of the section and top-notch programming, this event has become a staple for not only environmental law practitioners, but lawyers of associated practices as well. Thanks to the TBA Environmental Law Executive Council members for their time and assistance with another remarkable forum. Stay tuned for more exciting events to come from this section, including the Environmental Show of the South on May 15-17 in Chattanooga.

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Remembering Former Section Chair LeAnn Mynatt

I hired LeAnn Mynatt to Baker Donelson in 1997 or 98, when we had need for a lateral mid-to-senior level environmental associate. She had great expertise in OSHA as well as in environmental law. LeAnn was always considerate and upbeat, funny and helpful, even when the pace of things got very heavy. But of course, she could and did hold her own in any tough work situation too.       
 
LeAnn was one of those orange-clad folks. Born and raised in Knoxville, she later attended UT and UT College of Law. She was a runner, fitness and diet buff, which goes to show that no one can know what the future holds even if you do everything right.
 
A private person, she rarely shared much about her personal life, other than devotion to her multiple nephews almost like being a second mother. After the cancer hit and she initially beat it, she became very active and open about sharing her experiences just to help other women and not in any way to draw attention to herself for praise or sympathy. She continued to work after her relapse, and some dealing with her never knew of her situation until the end. 
 
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.

Robert M. Steele is a shareholder in Baker Donelson's Nashville office. He has engaged in a broad federal and state environmental, energy, and resources law practice, with emphasis in the areas of Superfund, RCRA, UST, brownfield and other types of site remediation. Steele hold degrees from Furman University and Vanderbilt University School of Law.
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Thanks to Our Sponsor: EarthCon

EarthCon was founded in 1998 to provide strategic environmental and engineering consulting services to commercial/industrial clients and law firms. Since that time, the company has grown into a national, full-service environmental consulting and engineering firm. EarthCon employs extensive technical and regulatory expertise to solve environmental challenges, and recognize that solutions must take into account the client’s business needs. Reduction of costs, searching for alternative innovative solutions, and providing value-added services in a responsive manner has allowed the company to successfully compete with the mega-firms in the industry.

 

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Gov. Lee to Seek FEMA Assistance Regarding Flood Damage

Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday renewed his promise to secure FEMA funding to aid with flooding damage in the state, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Tennessee will surpass the agency’s damage threshold after an unprecedented bout of rain throughout the past couple of months. Though state-wide figures have yet to be made available, it is estimated that Knoxville alone took a $43.5 million hit because of flooding.

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Construction Law Forum Programming Available Online

New videos from this year’s Construction Law Forum are now available to purchase on the Tennessee Bar Association website. Topics for these videos include: 
These online programs offer an opportunity for you to brush up on essential issues related to the practice while allowing the flexibility to work around your busy schedule in the pursual of CLE credit. You can view other upcoming programs and online video options on our CLE webpage.
 
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Trump Administration Proposes 31 percent Cut To EPA Funding

The Trump Administration on Monday introduced its new budget proposal, which included a 31 percent slash to EPA funding, The Washington Post reports. Though climate change was not specifically mentioned in the proposal, the president has been an outspoken critic of science focused on manmade global warming, and the budget cuts funding for the EPA’s Global Change Research office completely. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler called the budget “a common-sense proposal” that would “support the agency as it continues to work with states, tribes and local governments to protect human health and the environment."

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TDEC to Issue Over $3 Million in Loans for Clean Water Infrastructure

Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers have announced over $3 million in low-interest loans for clean water infrastructure improvements for the towns of Smyrna and Lewisburg. The apportionment will be funded through the Tennessee Revolving Fund Loan Program, which prioritizes disbursement for both the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, with $90 million loaned annually to municipalities for planning, design, and construction of eligible water and wastewater projects. Smyrna will receive a $3 million for green infrastructure and wastewater treatment plant expansion, and Lewisburg will receive $130,000 for wastewater treatment plant improvements.

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New Amendment Would Prohibit Municipalities from Regulating Single-Use Plastics

A new amendment to a state bill would make it illegal for municipalities to regulate, prohibit or charge a fee for many single-use plastic items, the Times Free Press reports. The bill would implement statewide standards for auxiliary devices: bags, cups, bottles, straws, to-go boxes, delivery packaging and more — whether they are reusable or single-use. Opponents believe the bill is overreaching, but legislators argue it will create statewide standards that are easier to follow. The bill would immediately kill any municipality's ability to limit the use of single-use pollutants through local regulations, leaving such decisions up to the state, which does not currently have plans to implement such restrictions.
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Environmental Law Section to Host Happy Hour in Memphis

The TBA Environmental Law Section will host a happy hour on March 14 at 4:30 p.m. at Glankler Brown in Memphis. This is a free event open to all section members, or anyone with interest in learning more about the section. Do not miss out on this opportunity to meet TBA leadership and lawyers of related practice. Please RSVP to Section Coordinator Jarod Word if you would like to attend.
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Tomorrow: Environmental Law Section to Host Happy Hour in Memphis

The TBA Environmental Law Section will host a happy hour on Tomorrow, March 14 at Glankler Brown in Memphis. This is a free event open to all section members, or anyone with interest in learning more about the section. Do not miss out on this opportunity to meet TBA leadership and lawyers of related practice. Please RSVP with Section Coordinator Jarod Word if you would like to attend. Here’s the key info:
 
When: Thursday, March 14, 4:30 p.m., CST.
Where: Glankler Brown, 6000 Poplar Ave., Suite 400, Memphis
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Advocates Submit Amicus Briefs Requesting Juliana v. United States Proceed to Trial

Plaintiffs in the case Juliana v. United States have filed 15 amicus briefs with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the lawsuit, requesting that the case proceed to trial. Briefs were submitted on behalf of a diverse group of supporters, including U.S. Congress members, legal scholars, religious and women’s groups, businesses, historians, medical doctors, international lawyers and environmentalists. The case was originally set for trial on October 29, 2018, however, the court granted the Trump administration an interlocutory appeal. Oral arguments for the appeal are set for June 3. You can view the briefs submitted using this link.

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Report Shows Toxins Leaking from TVA Coal Ash Landfills

An analysis by a consortium of environmental groups shows the Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal ash landfills in Anderson and Roane counties are leaking toxins, including arsenic and lithium, Knoxnews reports. The analysis — which relied on TVA’s own testing data — confirmed arsenic is leaking from TVA’s newest coal ash landfill at Kingston at a concentration that exceeds safe drinking water standards. TVA continues to insist coal ash is safe and is continuing to do business with Jacobs Engineering, the contractor currently experiencing litigation for its role in the deaths of workers in the Kingston coal ash spill cleanup.
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Don't Sleep, Space is Limited: Criminal Law Basics 2019 and Prison Tour

The Tennessee Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section will hold its annual Criminal Law Basics Forum at the Tennessee Bar Center on May 22. This annual favorite features the intangibles for criminal law practitioners, including timely updates on both a state and federal level. We will cover appellate issues, attorney well-being and ethics, ending the day with a guided tour of the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, presented by Warden Tony Mays and attorney David Raybin who will discuss representing a death row inmate through execution. Don’t miss out on this unique, enriching CLE opportunity. Here are the key details:
 
When: Wednesday, May 22, registration at 8 a.m., CDT; prison tour at 2 p.m., CDT
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave N.; Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, 7475 Cockrill Bend Blvd, Nashville
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No New Trial for Kingston Coal Ash Contractor

A federal judge has refused to toss out a jury’s verdict against a global contractor accused of poisoning workers who cleaned up the Kingston coal ash spill in 2008, Knoxnews reports. Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan ruled there was ample proof to back up a jury’s November ruling that Jacobs Engineering breached its duty to protect workers who cleaned up the nation’s largest coal ash spill. The Tennessee Valley Authority put Jacobs in charge of cleaning up a spill of 7.3 million tons of coal ash at its Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County in December 2008.
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TWRA Launches New App with Enhanced Features

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has created an app to make it easier for residents to check licensing status and get out to enjoy wildlife. “TWRA on the Go” will provide access to Tennessee rules and regulations, use geo-locating tools to enhance the recreational experience, determine sunrise/sunset times based on GPS location and feature an interactive map to find TWRA wildlife management areas. The app also features information about where to view animals across the state.

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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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