E&W Blog

July 29, 2016

Six More Public Officials Criminally Charged in the Flint Water Crisis

CNN is reporting that the Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette, has charged six state employees with criminal wrongdoing.  According to CNN, Six current and former Michigan employees were charged Friday in a widening criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis, state Attorney General Bill Schuette said. Additional charges could be forthcoming. Prosecutors said the state […]
July 7, 2016

E&W Group and Reason Foundation Host P3 Roundtable for Congressional Staff

The E&W Group and Reason Foundation hosted a Capital Hill roundtable on the role of public-private partnerships (P3s) in the water sector on July 6, drawing over 30 congressional staff and water professionals to the lunch-time dialogue in the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee’s hearing room.   The facilitated discussion by Dr. Adrian Moore […]
July 2, 2016

Lack of Enforcement and Gaming the System – Public Water Systems in the Spotlight

5,300 U.S. water systems are in violation of lead rules By Sara Ganim, CNN Updated 6:50 AM ET, Wed June 29, 2016 More than 5,000 water systems in violation of rules  Story highlights 18 million Americans could be affected The EPA took action in just 88 cases Many utilities “game the system” with their testing methods […]
July 1, 2016

E&W's Doug Parker Offers Perspective on Volkswagen's $14.7B Emissions Cheating Settlement

3 Takeaways From VW’s $14.7B Emissions Cheating Deal By Juan Carlos Rodriguez Law360, New York (June 28, 2016, 8:31 PM ET) Volkswagen AG’s $14.7 billion deal to settle some claims stemming from its emissions cheating scandal is a landmark achievement for the federal government and will reverberate throughout the auto industry. But the pact announced Tuesday is just the first step in VW’s bid to put the matter in its rearview mirror, with some civil matters left unresolved and criminal charges potentially waiting in the wings. The Volkswagen deal is the latest — and by far the biggest — in a string of big­ticket settlements the federal government has obtained from automakers. (Credit: AP) Consumers and the public are the big winners, with a $10 billion buyback or fix program and $4.7 million in VW­funded environmental projects combining to form the largest automotive settlement in history. But the company could wind up paying even more, and the industry should be on notice that federal regulators will aggressively pursue claims against companies that similarly flout the law, said Pete Anderson, a principal at Beveridge & Diamond PC and head of the firm’s white collar and compliance team. “Even though it’s a massive settlement, Volkswagen is still far from being out of the legal woods,” Anderson said. Here are three takeaways from the VW settlements: Car Makers in the Crosshairs The VW deal is the latest — and by far the biggest — in a string of big­ ticket settlements the federal government has obtained from automakers. In September, General Motors Co. agreed to a $900 million deferred prosecution deal over faulty ignition switches; in November 2014, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. agreed to a $100 million Clean Air Act civil penalty — the largest ever under the act — to resolve claims that they sold more than 1 million vehicles that emit more greenhouse gases than had been certified to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and in March 2014, Toyota Motor Corp. reached a $1.2 billion deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ over claims it hid defects that caused vehicles to accelerate suddenly. Anderson, a former federal environmental prosecutor, said the scale of the VW misconduct has intensified regulators’ focus on the auto industry. “Despite budget constraints within EPA, the agency will react aggressively in throwing all of their enforcement spears if the underlying misconduct of the target is extreme. Corporations who underestimate the potential costs and liabilities of significant environmental violations will do so at their peril,” he said. Doug Parker, the recently retired head of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, now at Earth & Water Group, said the government’s reaction to the VW scandal has been much like it was to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and disaster in 2010, which shifted a great deal of attention to offshore energy production. “The government essentially reorganized elements of the Department of the Interior and put additional resources focusing on offshore energy — there was a brief moratorium on drilling,” Parker said. “When you have a major incident with a major player, be it BP in the Gulf or VW in the automotive sector, the government’s really going to turn its attention to not just that company but that sector.” Criminal Charges May Loom Parker, who oversaw the ongoing criminal investigation of VW until his departure from the EPA, said the investigation is large and “very well resourced,” but added there are challenges. “I think it’s more complicated because of its international nature, in terms of navigating issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction with the Germans,” Parker said. “When you have a case like this that reaches beyond your borders, there are just a lot more moving parts.” And it’s not just the company that has to worry. This is the first major environmental case that’s unfolded after Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally […]
June 14, 2016

E&W Strategies Holds Inaugural EHS Roundtable – Culture, Management and Change

E&W Strategies convened its inaugural roundtable on June 9 in Washington DC with a program titled “From Worker Safety to VW and Flint: Enforcement Trends and Compliance Tips.”  EHS leaders from across numerous sectors, including manufacturing, water, transportation, infrastructure and legal met to discuss a number of emerging issues in the context of effective compliance […]
June 8, 2016

Top 10 Mistakes You Can Make in EHS Compliance

By Brent Fewell Over the years, I’ve helped hundreds of clients develop and assess their EHS compliance programs.   Some do compliance well and others, well, let’s just say others don’t know what they don’t know.  And that will come back to bite them. The goal must always be effective compliance in terms of protecting the […]
June 2, 2016

Congress Should Incentivize Clean Water – Reward the Innovators

Folks, it’s high time we stop talking and start doing.  Michael Curley, lawyer and author of ‘Finance Policy for Renewable Energy and a Sustainable Environment’, makes a compelling case for Congress to incentivize clean water.  Here is Mike’s proposition, reposted from the Huffington Post. Congress got a report from EPA last week that they can use to […]
June 1, 2016

In Significant Decision, Supreme Court Grants Landowners More Rights in Wetlands Cases

In a rare 8-0 unanimous decision, the Supreme Court today ruled that Army Corps of Engineers’ wetlands determinations can be challenged in court.  Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor and Kagan joined.  Three separate concurring opinions were filed by Kennedy, Kagan and Ginsburg.  The decision in U.S. […]
May 27, 2016

Washington DC – Israel Water Summit, June 30

Washington D.C. – Israel Water Summit: “Israel and the Global Water Crisis: Practical Approaches” Thursday, June 30, 2016 Registration 8:00 am • Water Summit 8:30 am – 3:00 pm Hogan Lovells, LLP Conference Center 555 13th Street NW • Washington, D.C. 20004 Register by June 17 at jnf.org/dcwatersummit. Both a national and global water crisis […]
May 26, 2016

Public-Private Partnerships – Helping to Close the Growing Water Crisis

The Bipartisan Policy Center issued a new report this week titled, Bridging the Gap Together: A New Model to Modernize U.S. Infrastructure, highlighting the needs and opportunities for public-private partnerships to help address the growing water crisis in many communities around the country.  Here is the forward by Susan Story, CEO of American Water, and […]