Law of the Land (and Air and Water)

Law of the Land (and Air and Water) provides analysis and discussion of the most critical and timely legal issues pertaining to the environment and natural resources. The blog is edited by Mat Todaro, and features contributions from other members of Verrill Dana's Environmental Group. The objective of this blog is to provide carefully selected content that clients, industry professionals, policymakers, non-profit organizations, and engaged citizens may turn to as a valuable resource.

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Americans are increasingly sensitive to the ingredients that go into the food that we eat. Recently, Congress passed a law requiring manufacturers to label or place QR codes on products containing or made from genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”). Now, consumer advocates have turned their attention to food products bearing the word “natural,” raising legal risks for all food manufacturers who label products with that term. Unlike many terms pertaining to food, such as “light/lite,” “low…
After more than a year of pre-rulemaking process including the issuance of two drafts, the Maine DEP has commenced formal rulemaking and today issued draft rules for wind energy developments in Maine. The formal draft largely tracks the most recent pre-rulemaking version issued in January 2017. The draft rules include standards for evaluating scenic impacts, limits on shadow flicker, provisions related to public safety, and requirements for demonstrating significant tangible benefits.  In many respects, the…
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP” or “the Department”) recently adopted a new regulation that adds two flame retardants to the State’s “Priority Chemicals” list.  The regulation requires that manufacturers and distributers who intentionally add decabromodiphenyl ether (“deca BDE”) or hexabromocylododecane to “Children’s Products” report that activity to the Department no later than August 31, 2017.  The DEP assesses a one-time reporting fee and has authority to bring enforcement actions against entities that fail…
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Chapter 450 and Land Use Regulation Commission (LUPC) Chapter 11 regulations for hydropower projects have been updated. The new rules eliminate an inconsistency that existed between the license transfer provisions for hydropower and other environmental permits. Specifically, the revised rules apply the same standards and procedures to hydropower projects, including the definition of what constitutes a change in ownership that triggers the requirement to transfer a permit, that…
On Thursday July 20th, the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Kennebunk held a workshop to gather information regarding the Town’s potential role in the future of three dams along the Mousam River in Kennebunk, Maine.  The Board workshop was centered around a presentation prepared by Verrill Dana attorneys Scott Anderson and Jim Cohen.  During the meeting, Anderson presented four options for the future of the dams, including whether or not to conduct an…
Landowners in Maine’s two most populous counties should take heed: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prepares to roll-out updated preliminary flood insurance maps for Cumberland and York counties. FEMA announced Monday it plans to issue revised flood hazard maps on April 14. This is consistent with the state’s map adoption schedule, indicating a Spring 2017 release. Home to more than a third of Maine’s population, Cumberland and York counties are among the last…
According to an article in Maritime Executive, offshore renewable power developers are about to sign an agreement for the construction of islands in the middle of the North Sea as bases for offshore wind facilities.  As the article states: “[t]he generated wind energy could then be distributed from the islands over direct current lines to the North Sea countries of the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Belgium. Transmission cables would simultaneously function as…
Click to view full size. This year marks the third annual post from this Blog highlighting EPA’s enforcement and compliance figures. And while this year’s data tells a number of interesting stories, no story is larger than the potential impact of the incoming Trump Administration on EPA’s enforcement figures in 2017. With that as our backdrop—and fully admitting that this time next year, EPA’s data may look very different giving us even more to talk…
On December 2, 2016, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) issued its first Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) type-approval certificate, ushering in a new era in environmental compliance for companies operating commercial vessels with ballast water systems in U.S. waters (within 12 nautical miles). Based on public information about other, pending applications, we expect additional type approvals to issue soon.  According to the USCG, with type-approved BWMS now available, any owner/operator of a commercial vessel…
Wastewater disposal for large breweries, mid-sized establishments, and even small craft brewers, remains a significant environmental and economic challenge. Recently, the oldest brewery in America received an unpleasant reminder of this fact. D.G. Yuengling and Sons, Inc. was issued a complaint from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that Yuengling violated its discharge permit standards at least 141 times between 2008 and 2015. Yuengling holds an Industrial User (IU) permit that allows it to…