May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - Double, double toil and trouble; Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble.
Firefighting Air Fleet Down, Perfect Storm BrewingLast year, air tankers provided support to fight wildfires here in Southern California. Estimates are that over 700,000 acres burned.
That translates into about seven percent of the standing dead trees in Southern California, according to fire department sources.
That leaves 93% available for fires to burn.
Not to add fuel to the fire, but the government has grounded its tanker fleet based on safety concerns. Apparently, for good reason. The fleet is old and apparently not safe.
Have a look at the remaining dead trees (scroll down to look at bottom picture).
Is there a perfect storm brewing again this year?
Can You Pay Back These Fines?There you are, out wandering (let's say patrolling) the Arizona forest during high fire season. You're a U.S. Forest Service Forestry Technician. You get a letter from your estranged husband earlier that morning. You're upset. Very upset. What do you do with the letter?
Of course. You burn it. In a campfire ring. In the middle of one of the hottest summers on record. During the highest possible fire danger. The fire gets away from you, and you report it. Not surprisingly, they ask you how it started.
You lie about it.
Next thing you know, you owe $42.2 million in fire suppression costs, $14.7 million of which was upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Plus 12 years in state prison, and 6 years in federal prison. At least you get to serve the sentences concurrently.
Plus, they took your matches away. Go figure.
Wine or Whine? Tell Us Soon, SupremesI follow the wine industry for two reasons: one because my son works in it - but is now on his way to the University of Iowa College of Law (my alma mater) and will likely return to it. The other because I like wine. Jack London merlot to be specific. Plus an occasional Chianti Classico Riserva.
But I digress.
One of the more frustrating things is trying to buy wine and have it shipped to you interstate. It's nothing short of a nightmare.
This coming Thursday, the United States Supreme Court will consider whether to unravel the mess. Stay tuned, and look for more on these two cases: Granholm v. Heald and a companion case, Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association v. Heald.
Then we'll decide whether to order that perfect case of wine, or whether to order some cheese with that whine.
Go To Prison, Get A Flat-Screen TVMost people assume that when you go to prison, you deserve some level of punishment.
Not true in Oregon.
There, you get to watch flat-screen TVs in your cell. If you're good, and you've earned it, according to prison officials there. They claim relegating prisoners to their cells instead of the common TV room cuts down on violence.
But, the prisoners who get the flat-screen TVs are basically trustys. Did I miss something?
Most people, including me, do not yet have a flat-screen TV at home.
Maybe I need to go to prison to watch one. Nah.
Lodi Loses In More Ways Than OneThe City of Lodi doesn't like hazardous waste, so they passed an ordinance, MERLO, (see second story down) to regulate it. It passed muster (partially) before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Given that their ordinance had for the most part gotten past the possible conflict with the federal hazardous waste laws, the City was emboldened. They went after more companies using their ordinance. One company, Randtron, however, fought back and claimed that it was preempted by the HSAA, the California State Superfund laws. The City, confident with its somewhat federal victory, fought back.
Turns out that the state appeals court thinks that the State Superfund law controls over the City's ordinance. Who woulda thunk it? No kidding.
But, it didn't have to be such a loss. All the City had to do to exercise proper jurisdiction over Randtron was to designate the area as redevelopment and then use the Polanco Redevelopment Act. Too bad they didn't think of that first. Would have saved them a ton in attorneys fees.
Oh well, it's only the taxpayer's money.
Sunday, May 9, 2004. Here's a follow-up in the Contra Costa Times about the lawyers fees charged in these cases.
One Cruise Line Comes into LineAs part of my continuing effort to follow up on previously published posts, here's one on cruise ships and sewage. It appears that Royal Caribbean is cleaning up its act.
According this Associated Press story, the cruise line "will clean the up to 24,000 gallons of sewage or 'blackwater' and 265,000 gallons of 'graywater' from laundries, showers, sinks and dishwashers each dumps daily when it's at sea."
Predictably, Oceana (the environmental group that led this charge) is gloating. Royal Caribbean cleaned up its act after paying a $27 million file to the Coast Guard. Now, 29 ships are outfitted with the treatment systems, and 26 more are slated for retrofitting.
Creating The Laboratory Error DefenseThe Third Circuit created new law yesterday: the laboratory error defense. This defense applies in at least the Clean Water Act, and perhaps other environmental statutes.
The company, Allegheny Ludlum, charged with violating the CWA believed it was in compliance with reporting requirements, but due to a laboratory error, they actually were overreporting zinc concentrations due to the laboratory's contaminated reagent. The USEPA brought an administrative action to levy fines. After imposing some $8 million in fines, the company fought the allegations in a lower court and lost. They appealed, and won, creating this new defense.
The USEPA argued that the CWA imposed a strict liability scheme, and there could therefore be no exceptions. Although the Circuit court disagreed with the government, the court would not endorse the laboratory error defense as an actual affirmative defense to the USEPA's charges, but noted that it was "relevant" to compliance determinations.
Your Landfill is About to Start GlowingAccording to the North County (San Diego) Times, both environmentalists and government employees are upset at the USEPA.
Not that it's any surprise that they're upset.
The USEPA is proposing to dump radioactive waste into landfills. Now that's something that may be worth being upset about. I don't like to glow in the dark. Here are the comments submitted by The Public Citizen. I know it's redundant, but I didn't pick the name.
This editorialist complains that he can't dump a TV into a landfill, but the USEPA wants to dump radioactive waste.
If you want to comment or give the USEPA a piece of your mind, then go to it.