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Overnight Energy & Environment Limits on contamination claims at military bases

Overnight Energy & Environment Limits on contamination claims at military bases

Overnight Energy & Environment Limits to contamination claims at military bases

Thursday’s Overnight Energy & Environment is open!The latest news on energy, the environment, and beyond is available at. Subscribe here thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today we will be looking at how the legal systems prevent military lawsuits over toxic “forever chemical” substances, new findings about gas stoves, and a cybersecurity strategy for water systems.

Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk are The Hill’s Rachel Frazin & Zack Budryk. Send tips to rfrazin@thehill.com, zbudryk@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter @RachelFrazin @BudrykZack.

Let’s get started.

Military protected from PFAS suits by high legal bar

This is Part 3 of a series on “forever chemical” this week. Visit TheHill.com More.

PFAS is a major source for community contamination in military installations. However, it can be difficult to hold the Defense Department responsible due to a maze of legal limitations.

Mark Favors, an activist from Colorado Springs and a nurse, has seen many relatives, including his grandmother die from cancer. He believes that the discharge of per- and/or polyfluoroalkyl chemicals from Peterson Air Force Base, near Colorado Springs, caused this.

PFAS can be found on a wide range of household products. However, they are most commonly found in aqueous films forming foam (AFFF), which helps to stop jet fuel fires at military bases as well as civilian airports. PFAS have been linked with thyroid disease, kidney cancer, and other diseases.

Favors’s family members have signed up for multidistrict litigation against the companies that made these chemicals.

Favors claimed that the legal obstacles associated with challenging the military at court and the minimal changes that doing so could cause have discouraged him from suing the Department of Defense.

He is frustrated that there is no way to hold the Pentagon responsible for its actions. He insists that Congress needs to be accountable.

Favors’s area was contaminated by decades worth of firefighting foam, which leaked into groundwater. It also contaminated private wells. This was something that the Pentagon publicly acknowledged and has been working to rectify. The Air Force Now, the use of this product is restrictedUse AFFF foam only in emergency situations.

However, for many families living nearby, who ingested the toxins for decades, they weren’t enough. This is especially true for those who have suffered from deadly cancers linked to the water.

What does the military have? “We are aware that our firefighting mission may not have adversely affected the human drinking water around our installation and we are working hard together with our community partners, regulatory agencies, and to identify and resolve those impacts,” a spokesperson for the Air Force stated in a statement.

According to the statement, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center began working in 2016 with public water suppliers as well as private well owners to provide drinking waters alternatives. This included bottled water and the installation treatment systems for all public drinking wells and private homes that tested higher than the EPA’s health advisory level.

Peter Hughes, a spokesperson from the DOD, stated via email, that the department is currently assessing 699 installations for PFAS use or release. It has completed 190 assessments so this far. The department found that 115 of those installations warrant additional actions as part of the cleanup process.

He said that the department was taking action to address the issue, noting that the department has committed nearly $1.5 billion to addressing PFAS releases by fiscal year 2021.

A POSSIBLE LEGAL ROUTE

Favors is one example of an activist who would consider suing the Defense Department a losing battle. This is because federal legal protections make it difficult if not impossible to sue.

One of the few ways a plaintiff could sue the Air Force This is through Federal Tort Claims ActKevin Hannon, an associate from Denver’s Morgan and Morgan Law Firm and The Hannon Law Firm is a member of the plaintiffs steering committee for the nationwide MDL that will be against South Carolina’s manufacturers of PFAS.

The Federal Tort Claims Act, a 1946 statute, allows private individuals to sue the U.S. in federal court. It recognizes liability for negligent and wrongful acts by government employees.

However, it is difficult to sue the military because the government has what they call discretionary immunity,” explained Paul Napoli (co-lead counsel for MDL).

This immunity means that if a government worker’s action was based solely on discretion, the individual believed an action was in a person’s best interest for a particular cause, then a plaintiff can usually not sue, even though harm has occurred.

Federal immunity according to the legal dictionary Wex Law It is derived from “sovereign immune”This is based on the British common-law doctrine “that no King could do any wrong.”

But there’s a twist: The Pentagon does not participate in the ongoing national MDL that targets companies that produce AFFF foam. Therefore, the plaintiffs cannot sue it. However, these facts have actually made the military an ally for their case against the makers.

Napoli stated that suing the military as part the case would be impractical, counterproductive, and could “essentially let producers off the hook.”

Napoli stated that “one of the aspects of litigation, the defense of the defendants, was that ‘the government forced us to do it’.” “By not suing government at this stage, we have been in a position to obtain testimony where they stated it wasn’t our fault – it was the manufacturers’ fault.”

Find out more about these legal problems here.

Study: Gas stoves emit methane if they are off

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gasstove_naturalgass_fossilfuel_fracking_energy

A new study has shown that gas stoves continue to emit greenhouse gases even when they are turned off. This is affecting both human health as well as climate change more significantly than previously thought.

Stanford University researchers measured the releases of methane (a greenhouse gas) and nitrogen oxides in 53 homes in California.

They checked emissions while the appliances had been turned on and off. They discovered that the stoves released more methane when they were turned off than when they were on.

The research also suggests the EPA might be undercounting the amount of emissions that actually come from gas stoves.

Researchers stated that their estimate of methane emissions from stoves was higher than the EPA’s estimate of all residential natural gas “stationary burning,” which can include many appliances.

Find out more about the findings by clicking here.

A CYBER PLAN TO WATER

Thursday’s announcement by President Biden of a new plan to protect U.S. water systems against cyberattacks was part of a wider effort to defend domestic critical infrastructure from digital threats.

The White House and Environmental Protection Agency announced a new “action” plan for the water sector. This plan aims to encourage water utilities adopting technology that detects cyber threats to industrial control system (or ICS) early. According to the White House, the administration plans to implement the plan in 100 days.

The administration is also trying increase information sharing regarding cyber threats between water utility operators and the federal government.

In the wake of recent high-profile cyberattacks, such as the ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS, the Biden administration is working hard to improve cybersecurity of critical infrastructure systems. Similar plans have been announced by the administration to protect the electric sector as well as natural gas pipelines.

See Also
Opinion: Environmental justice delayed has been justice denied

“Our efforts in securing critical infrastructure highlight that cybersecurity is a top-economic and national security priority for Biden administration,” a senior administration representative told reporters on a conference call previewing Thursday’s announcement.

Officials claimed that the attacks on Colonial Pipeline, JBS and other infrastructure exposed the limits to the federal government’s ability to set cybersecurity baselines.

The EPA and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security will be establishing a pilot program to allow water utilities to participate in ICS Monitoring.

Learn more about this initiative by Morgan Chalfant, The Hill.

KERRY MEETS UP WITH COUNTERPARTS

John Kerry, Climate Envoy to the United States, met on Thursday with international officials at a Major Economies Forum on Climate and Energy ministerial meeting in order to discuss climate problems.

On Thursday, a senior administration official said to reporters that they discussed the outcomes of last year’s Glasgow climate summit as well as this year’s meeting in Egypt. According to the official, the countries discussed accelerating the reduction of coal.

The U.S., along with other countries, offered additional ideas like taking further action against methane and curbing deforestation of agriculture, setting goals for increasing carbon-free electricity generation, and speeding the transition to electric vehicles.

The meeting included countries such as Brazil, India, China, and India. However, it was not limited to major economies. Senegal represented a group of less developed nations.

“I was encouraged by the many ways countries are working together to build on the progress made at Glasgow. Kerry spoke out in a statement about the meeting, stating that many people highlighted the importance of countries whose 2030 targets were not aligned with the Paris goal strengthening their country this year.

“One thing is certain: we must all move faster in the next decade to accelerate our transition from coal to renewables. He said that he looked forward to their next meeting and to the next leaders meeting, when they can hopefully take things up to the next level.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Trump-era solar tariffs extended by the White House, with some tweaksReuters)

  • TV ads and ballot initiatives: How California’s solar power became a hot political issueThe Sacramento Bee)

  • How an anti-trans group splits the fight against a lithium mineE&E News)

  • Research has shown that even low levels can cause death in older people.The New York Times)

  • Environmental justice groups sue EPA for incinerator pollutionThe Associated Press)

ICYMI

Finally, something a little offbeat and unorthodox: Some rare bird news.

That’s all for today. Thank you for reading. Check out The Hill. Energy & Environment PageFor the most current news and coverage. We’ll see you there You Friday.

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