Environmental Law

Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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Torres Strait Islanders to file UN human rights claim against Australia over climate change                     

Source: Jurist

May 15, 2019

Residents from Australia’s Torres Strait Islands plan to file a human rights complaint against the Australia government for failing to address the impacts of climate change.

The residents will be represented by a UK environmental non-profit organization, ClientEarth who issued a press release Sunday detailing the complaint to be lodged with the UN Human Rights Committee. The allegation is that the Australia government’s failure to mitigate the impacts of climate change violates legal obligations to the Torres Strait Islanders who are rising sea levels impacting burial grounds and cultural sites. The First Nations people who live on the island believe this impact on cultural heritage is a violation of on the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The residents are requesting for additional funding to protect against climate change impacts like seawalls to protect sacred sites and physical property, a phasing out of coal use, and commitment to reducing emissions.

This is the first legal complaint brought against the government of Australia for human rights violations related to climate change. The committee’s decision is non-binding on sovereign nations, but could place pressure on the Australian government to take action.

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Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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Montana court blocks mining company from mining near Yellowstone National Park 

Source: Jurist

April 17, 2019

-United States-

A Montana district court ruled Monday that a Canadian mining company cannot mine for gold in an area north of Yellowstone National Park.

The ruling is a result of a suit brought by the Park County Environmental Council and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. In its decision, the court ruled that certain amendments to the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) “violate the Montana Constitution beyond a reasonable doubt.” The court found that “[i]n passing the Amendments at issue here, the Legislature upset the balance of competing fundamental rights that was inherent in MEPA since its enactment.” It also found that the Amendments did not survive strict scrutiny, and therefore found that the Amendments violated the Montana Constitution.

Because these Amendments violated the Montana Constitution, the court found that “the decision to issue an exploration license” to the mining company was void.

Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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PPG to pay $1.2 million in pollution settlement             

Source: Jurist

April 03, 2019

-United States-

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Tuesday announced the terms of a settlement with PPG Industries, Inc. (PPG), requiring PPG to pay a $1.2 million civil penalty for environmental contamination.

For decades, from the 1920’s until 1970, PPG dumped polluted materials from a glass manufacturing plant into the Allegheny River in Armstrong County. While there is evidence that the contamination has harmed stream quality and fish near the site of pollution, DEP said that public water supply intakes located downstream have not been impacted by the discharge.

The settlement also requires that PPG cleanup and treat the discharge in the Allegheny River and its tributary Glade Run. Since the lawsuit, PPG has “conducted numerous investigations of its own at the site and implemented various control and remedial strategies to control the leachate discharges.” 

DEP Southwest Regional Director Ron Schwartz said that reaching this agreement is “long overdue” but it is necessary for the environment and “protects further generations.”

As part of this settlement, PPG has agreed not to appeal the final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for treated wastewater discharges.

Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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EU parliament passes clean energy measures 

Source: Jurist

March 27, 2019

-European Union-

EU parliament on Tuesday approved new rules to create a Europe-wide market for electricity that is cleaner, more competitive and better able to cope with risks.

The Clean Energy for All Europeans package empowers European consumers to become active players in the energy transition and creates the first national energy and climate plans. Among its rules, the legislation provides that consumers receive smart meters, dynamic pricing and the option to switch provider more quickly. Additionally, state aid to fossil-fuelled power plants will be phased out and measures have been enacted to prevent electricity blackouts.

The rapporteur on the internal market for electricity, Jerry Buzek, said the electricity market reform should make the sector more competitive across EU borders and support the transition to cleaner electricity. “It gives more power to consumers and protects the energy-poor. It is good for the environment and good for the wallet.”

By allowing electricity to move freely to where it is most needed and when it is most needed through undistorted price signals, consumers will benefit from cross-border competition. “This will drive the investments necessary to provide security of supply, whilst decarbonizing the European energy system.”

Following this parliamentary approval, the Council of Ministers of the EU will have to formally approve the texts of the Directive and three Regulations, after which the new laws will be published in the Official Journal of the Union.

Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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India environment court suspends plan to expand coal-based power plant

Source: Jurist

March 18, 2019

 India’s environment tribunal, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), has suspended an environmental clearance issued by the government of the state of Karnataka for the expansion of an existing coal-based power plant in Udupi district. The state government had issued its environmental clearance for the proposed expansion in 2017.

Friday’s decision saw the NGT take cognizance of the adverse findings of a group of experts on the environmental situation in the region. It was observed that the mismanagement of the environment had contaminated the soil, air and both the surface water and groundwater reserves in the power plant’s vicinity.

The New Delhi-based principal bench of the tribunal ordered the operator of the power plant to pay a fine of 50 million Indian rupees to the Central Pollution Control Board as an “interim environmental compensation” within a month. In doing so, the tribunal exercised powers vested in it by Section 20 of the National Green Tribunal Act, which mandates that the tribunal apply the “polluter pays” principle, among other environmental law doctrines.

The bench also ordered a committee comprising senior scientists to assess the environmental damage caused due to the operation of the power plant.

Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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Toledo voters approve legal rights for Lake Erie             

Source: Jurist

February 27, 2019

-United States-

Voters in Toledo, Ohio, on Tuesday approved an amendment to the city charter giving Lake Erie legal rights. This charter amendment would allow any resident of Toledo to sue on behalf of the Lake.

Lake Erie is a source of water for an estimated 11 million US and Canadian citizens. As recently as 2014 the water in Toledo was unsafe to drink for a period of three days, due to runoff from farms causing a toxic green cyanobacteria bloom.

On Wednesday a lawsuit was filed in federal district court, challenging the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. The lawsuit was brought by the Drewes Family Farm and alleges that the Lake Erie Bill of Rights will “put the family at risk of massive liability if any fertilizer runoffs enters the Lake Erie watershed.”

Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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El Gobierno aprueba un plan de ayudas para favorecer la movilidad sostenible            

Fuente: Noticias Jurídicas

16 de febrero, 2019

-España-

El Consejo de Ministros ha aprobado un Real Decreto por el que se regulan las bases del Programa de Incentivos a la Movilidad Eficiente y Sostenible (MOVES), dotado con 45 millones de euros y dirigido a incentivar la compra de vehículos alternativos, instalar infraestructuras de recarga de vehículos eléctricos, el desarrollo de incentivos para implantar sistemas de préstamos de bicicletas eléctricas y la implantación de medidas recogidas en planes de transporte a los centro de trabajo.

Adicionalmente, se habilita una línea de 15 millones de euros destinada a apoyar proyectos singulares de movilidad sostenible en ciudades Patrimonio de la Humanidad, municipios con alto índice de contaminación o ubicados en islas, o iniciativas de innovación en electromovilidad.

Los importes de las ayudas para la adquisición de vehículos oscilan entre los de 700 euros para motos eléctricas y los 15.000 euros para la compra de camiones y autobuses con propulsión alternativa. Las ayudas para la compra de vehículos ligeros eléctricos se sitúan en torno a los 5.000 €.

En paralelo, se exigirá fabricantes, importadores de vehículos o puntos de venta un descuento mínimo de mil euros en la factura, excepto para las compras de cuadriciclos y motos. Así, los potenciales beneficiarios de la ayuda estatal contarán con un incentivo adicional para apostar por la movilidad sostenible.

Los incentivos para vehículos de gas se reservan para camiones y furgones, dado que las alternativas eléctricas no cuentan con el suficiente desarrollo.

En cuanto a los puntos de recarga eléctrica de vehículos eléctricos (públicos y privados) y a los sistemas de préstamos de bicicletas eléctricas, las ayudas serán de un 30% o un 40% del coste subvencionable, dependiendo del tipo de beneficiario, estableciéndose un límite de 100.000 euros.

Por último, MOVES fija un límite de 200.000 euros de ayuda por beneficiario para la implantación de Planes de Transporte a los Centros de Trabajo con una ayuda del 50% del coste subvencionable.

Las ayudas podrán ser cofinanciadas con recursos del Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER) y no son compatibles con otras ayudas, de cualquier otra administración, que tengan la misma finalidad.

Reparto territorial

Pueden ser beneficiarios de las ayudas MOVES profesionales autónomos, personas físicas, comunidades de propietarios, empresas privadas, entidades locales y las entidades públicas vinculadas a ellas, las administraciones de las comunidades autónomas y otras entidades públicas de la Administración General del Estado.

Ambos programas de ayudas, que coordinará el Instituto para la Diversificación y Ahorro de la Energía (IDAE), serán gestionados por las comunidades y ciudades autónomas, que deberán realizar convocatorias en sus respectivos territorios. El criterio de reparto de consensuará en la Conferencia Sectorial de Energía, órgano de coordinación entre el Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y las administraciones autonómicas en materia energética.

El presupuesto asignado a cada comunidad o ciudad autónoma deberá repartirse entre las distintas actuaciones recogidas en el Real Decreto. Así, deberá dedicarse entre un 20% y un 50% a la adquisición de vehículos alternativos; y entre un 30% y un 60% a la implantación de infraestructuras de recarga. De este último porcentaje, un mínimo del 50% ha de dirigirse a puntos de recarga rápida o ultrarrápida.

Por otro lado, la implantación de sistemas de préstamos de bicicletas eléctricas puede suponer ente un 5% y el 20% del presupuesto asignado y el apoyo a planes de transporte en centros de trabajo pueden contar hasta un 10%.

La partida de 45 millones destinada a MOVES fue consignada al IDAE en los presupuestos de 2018 con el objeto de financiar “actuaciones de apoyo a la movilidad basada en criterios de eficiencia energética, sostenibilidad e impulso a energías alternativas, incluida la disposición de infraestructura de recarga de vehículos eléctricos”.

Por su parte, la línea de 15 millones dedicada a presupuestos singulares proviene de una partida finalista de 10 millones asignada para tal fin al IDAE en los presupuestos de 2017, y que no fue ejecutada en su momento, y una segunda partida de 5 millones prevista en los presupuestos del pasado