Category: News & Announcements Page 1 of 6

The Ukrainian Invasion: Gas Prices & Oil Crack Spread

On February 24, 2022, years of political tension, propaganda, annexation, rebellion, and the imperialism of Vladimir Putin’s Russia erupted into the mass invasion of a sovereign European country.[1] The likes of which had not been seen since the start of World War II over three-quarters of a century ago. The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves throughout Europe that reverberated across the globe. From local and national politics to Starbucks and McDonalds, few areas of geopolitics and global economics failed to suffer repercussions. This is no less true than for the global energy market.

Immediately following the invasion, global energy markets nosedived, oil prices skyrocketed, and the Russian energy market nearly crumbled.[2] President Biden and fellow global leaders prevented a complete collapse of global markets by announcing the United States and other nations were considering a combined release of oil from strategic reserves.[3]

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Illinois Court Pauses Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion

The Dakota Access, LLC, and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, LLC (collectively, “the carriers”), own the Dakota Access Pipeline that runs from North Dakota to southern Illinois.[1] The carriers submitted a plan to the Illinois Commerce Commission (“Commission”) to add additional pumping states in Illinois to accommodate the 2020 approval by North Dakota Regulators expanding the capacity of the pipeline from 570,000 to 1.1 million barrels per day.[2] The Commission granted the carrier’s petition and Save Our Illinois Land (“SOIL”), one of the environmental groups opposed to the petition, filed for a rehearing which the Commission denied.[3]

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Illinois’ Electric Vehicle Bill Could Harm the Communities it Aims to Serve

A new Illinois (IL) bill, the Beneficial Electrification Act, would require the installation of electric vehicle (EV) ready parking spaces at all newly constructed and renovated buildings, both residential and commercial. The bill was approved by the Illinois General Assembly’s House Energy and Environment Committee on January 11, 2022.[1]

State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) introduced the bill which would not require the installation of the actual charging stations, rather, the parking spaces would need to be “EV ready,” meaning the installation of the electrical wiring, circuits, and outlets necessary to support a Level 2 charging station.[2]

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AFFF Litigation Paving the Way for National PFAS Litigation

Forever chemicals, scientifically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have been produced and manufactured in a wide variety of industries since it was first discovered in the 1930s. Litigation and regulatory efforts have been underway for over two decades, arising from the ubiquity and persistence of PFAS and the growing amount of scientific evidence pointing towards PFAS exposure-based health impacts.[1] Characterized by their heat, oil, and water-resistant properties, PFAS are used in products as varied as pizza boxes, make-up, and firefighting foam.[2] The latter has been identified as a potential major source of PFAS contamination in the environment and drinking water–sparking a host of litigation efforts throughout the country.[3]

On September 27, 2018, a federal judicial panel decided to consolidate these cases by creating Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) 2873 set in the United States District Court of South Carolina.[4] MDL-2873 is comprised of over 1800 cases that have common questions of law and fact involving the use of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) and PFAS contamination.[5] These cases generally allege that defendants, mostly major chemical manufacturers, contaminated groundwater with PFAS near various military bases, airports, and other industrial sites with the use of AFFFs.[6]

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Chicago Moves Forward in Clean Air Efforts, But Uncertainty Remains for Developers and Businesses

In 2019, Chicago’s average air quality index (AQI) was 52 (“moderate”).[1] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “moderate” air quality as acceptable air quality, but for some pollutants, there may be a moderate health concern to a small number of individuals.[2] AQI ratings are calculated by weighing six key criteria pollutants for their risk to health: (1) ozone, (2) particulate matter, (3) carbon monoxide, (4) nitrogen dioxide), (5) sulfur dioxide, and (6) lead.[3] Particulate matter includes both PM10 and PM2.5, which are the numbers referring to the particle’s diameter in micrometers.[4]

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Wolves Take Centerstage from Courtroom Battles to Climate Crisis

In the early days of January 2021, the gray wolf was officially removed from the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.[1] By February 2, 2021, the hunter advocacy group, Hunter Nation, had filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) alleging the agency violated state law by failing to schedule a wolf hunt after the delisting of the gray wolf had taken effect.[2] A little more than a week later, the court ruled in favor of Hunter Nation and forced the DNR to hold a wolf hunt by the end of the month.[3] The outcome was devastating.

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PFAS: Illinois’ Chance to Confront “Forever Chemicals”

What do pizza boxes, non-stick pans, make-up, firefighting foam, water-repelling clothing, and fast-food packaging all have in common? A simple, four-letter word: PFAS.[1] Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been around for decades, appear in a vast variety of industries around the globe, and pose a substantial risk to human health and the environment.[2] Worst of all, they rarely degrade.[3] For this reason, they have been dubbed by the scientific community “forever chemicals.”[4]

PFAS is an umbrella term for a group of thousands of man-made chemicals characterized by their ability to repel water, grease, dirt, and oil.[5] PFAS are chains of one of the strongest chemical bonds in nature, which do not easily break down under natural conditions.[6] This has far reaching implications that are not readily apparent. When the rest of a product that contains PFAS breaks down, you are left with tiny remnants of forever chemicals. But where do they go and what happens to them?

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To Salt or not to Salt? There’s Legal Liability Either Way.

Road salt, seemingly innocuous, is a silent destroyer of aquatic ecosystems, wildlife, groundwater resources, and transportation infrastructure.[1] It takes just one teaspoon of road salt, which is made of sodium chloride, to pollute five gallons of water.[2]

Road salt is applied to roads, parking lots, and sidewalks to aid in dissolving snow and melting ice for transportation convenience and safety. When snow melts, road salt washes away with it—into storm drains, through stormwater collection system, and ultimately into our waterbodies.[3]

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Recent Bankruptcy Ruling Signals Potential for Widespread Shifting of Mine Cleanup Obligations onto Taxpayers

Confirming the fears of environmental groups, on March 19 U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin A. Kahn approved the abandonment of cleanup obligations in thirty-three Kentucky coal mines previously owned by coal company Blackjewel LLC.[1] Approximately 170 other Blackjewel facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia will fall into a legal gray area as the company attempts to sell the mines to other coal companies.[2] Cleanup obligations for any permits not sold or transferred within six months will be abandoned.[3]

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BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program at a New Frontier

A decades-long effort to reform the federal program that manages free-roaming wild horses and burros throughout the West faces a new challenge in a recent lawsuit filed by the American Wild Horse Campaign (“AWHC”).

The Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (“Act”) vests the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) with the responsibility to manage and protect wild horses and burros across nearly 27 million acres of public land in the West.[i] According to recent surveys, 100,000 wild horses and burros live on these lands,[ii] yet the BLM estimates that the area can only sustain about 27,000.[iii]

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