Yesterday, July 25th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” by a vote of 419-3. The bill originated as an act in the Senate which was focused on Iran. In response to Russian meddling in the U.S. election, the Senate expanded that bill to include additional sanctions against Russia, codify various Russia-Ukraine sanctions promulgated by the Obama Administration into law and add procedural provisions to delay or prevent any efforts by the Trump Administration to relax those codified Obama Administration sanctions. The Senate passed their revised version of this legislation last month by a vote of 98-2. For more information on the Senate’s earlier approval, please see our post on June 16th.
|July 14, 2017|
|Rats! Eco-Friendly Soy-Based Insulation Could Spell Trouble Down the Road
By Sarah Rashid
A new “eco-friendly” biodegradable material used to insulate wiring in newer cars could make for trouble — and lawsuits — down the road for car manufacturers. This insulation is made from soybeans, making it more environmentally friendly and cheaper for car manufacturers. But it has a downside: it serves as an attractive, tasty treat for rats, mice, squirrel, rabbits, and other rodents. [Continue Reading]
|The Benefits And Risks Of Autonomous Vehicles
By Leslie Gutierrez
On June 15, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that will allow autonomous vehicles (AVs) to operate on the state’s roads. Texas is now one of 17 states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, plus Washington D.C.) that have passed legislation related to AVs. Governors in Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin have also issued executive orders related to AVs. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has formed a committee to determine AV best practices, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee formed a similar interagency work group. [Continue Reading]
By Alan Hoffman
Mitt Romney famously told a heckler during his Presidential campaign, “Corporations are people, my friend.” While corporations are not people, they and other organizations surely are legal persons capable of suing and being sued. But how to take the deposition of a corporation or organization which can only speak through employees or representatives? [Continue Reading]
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Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
|Product Liability Monitor Archive|
Husch Blackwell’s Charlie Merrill’s two part series on “The Regulatory Reforms Manufacturers Want Most” appeared in Law360 this month. The series covers manufacturers’ responses to DOC on environmental issues and examine commenters’ responses on regulations related to air pollution. Read an excerpt below:
U.S. manufacturers and their trade associations have submitted comments to the U. S. Department of Commerce (DOC) on changes they would like to see in environmental regulations. President Trump’s memorandum of Jan. 24, 2017, “Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing,” directed the DOC to conduct outreach concerning the impact of federal regulations on domestic manufacturing.
On April 26, 2017, Petitioner Suniva, Inc. filed a Petition for Global Safeguard Relief Pursuant to Sections 201-202 of the Trade Act of 1974 on imports of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells and Modules (Solar Cells).
SCOPE OF INVESTIGATION
The merchandise covered by this petition is crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates, and panels, consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including, but not limited to, modules, laminates, panels and building integrated materials.
On March 31, 2017, Petitioners North American Steel & Wire, Inc./ISM Enterprises filed a petition for the imposition of antidumping duties on imports of Carton-Closing Staples from the People’s Republic of China.
SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION
The scope of this investigation is carton-closing staples. Carton-closing staples are fastening devices used to secure or close the flaps of corrugated and solid paperboard cartons and boxes. Carton-closing staples are manufactured from steel wire, and commonly have a copper-coating or a zinc (galvanized) coating. Carton-closing staples manufactured from stainless steel wire are also covered.
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), 42 U.S.C. §§6901 et seq., hazardous waste land disposal units in operation after November 19, 1980 are subject to the RCRA hazardous waste management regulatory program. After closure of a hazardous waste land disposal unit where waste remains in place, RCRA regulations require the owner or operator (“owner/operator”) to perform post-closure care activities and provide financial assurance for the estimated costs of the post-closure care. The regulations require a 30-year post-closure care period, though the post-closure period may be extended by EPA or an authorized state if it can be demonstrated that an extension is “necessary to protect human health and the environment.” Continue Reading EPA Issues Guidance on Extending the Timeframe for Hazardous Waste Management Unit Post-Closure Care Under RCRA
On August 30, 2016, after two years of rulemaking, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the agency that administers California’s Proposition 65, adopted amendments to the Proposition 65 regulations that govern the “safe harbor” language deemed to be “clear and reasonable” and thus Proposition 65-compliant. The new standards provide consumers with more detailed information regarding potential chemical exposures. The new standards go into effect August 30, 2018. Until the effective date, warnings may use either the current warning language under existing 2008 regulations or the new warning language. Products manufactured prior to the effective date will not be subject to the new requirements, and warnings set forth in court-ordered settlements or consent judgments prior to the effective date will continue to be deemed “clear and reasonable” for the exposures covered by those judgments.
On January 13, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its much anticipated proposed reset to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory in the Federal Register. The new TSCA amendments require EPA to subdivide the existing inventory into lists of active and inactive substances. The proposed rule sets out reporting and procedural requirements for chemical manufacturers and processors to notify the Agency which chemicals should be considered active.
The proposal requires “retrospective” notification for substances listed on the TSCA Inventory that were manufactured in or imported into the US for non-exempt business purposes between June 21, 2006 and June 21, 2016. Properly notified substances would be designated by EPA as active. Substances on the inventory that do not receive a valid notice will be designated as inactive. Inactive substances may not be manufactured, imported, or processed for a non-exempt commercial purpose under TSCA. EPA is also proposing “forward-looking” procedures for converting inactive substances to active substances in the event a company intends to resume manufacture, import, or processing of an inactive substance.
On December 21, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized amendments to its Risk Management Program (RMP). The EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, signed the final rule but it has not yet been published in the Federal Register.
The Accidental Release Prevention regulations under section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act, also called the Risk Management Program regulations, require covered facilities to develop and implement a risk management program and coordinate with state and local officials. Approximately 12,500 facilities are covered by the RMP and will be affected by the revised rule. These facilities include petroleum refineries, large chemical manufacturers, water and waste treatment systems, chemical and petroleum wholesalers and terminals, food manufacturers, packing plants and other cold storage facilities with ammonia refrigeration systems, and some gas plants.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) is reviewing sustainability. On April 13, 2016 the SEC issued a “Concept Release” seeking public comments on 340 topics relating to business and financial disclosure requirements for publicly-traded companies under Regulation S-K. See 81 Fed. Reg. 23916 (April 22, 2016) (“CR”). Several topics addressed the disclosure of company information relating to sustainability and public policy issues. Such issues, including climate change, resource scarcity, corporate social responsibility (“CSR”), and good corporate citizenship, are often referred to generically as environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) concerns. C.R., p. 206. The concepts of CSR and ESG overlap greatly if not entirely, and precise definitions of these terms are lacking. In this article, the terms “sustainability” and “ESG” will be used interchangeably in the context of corporate reporting. Many of the largest companies in the U.S. voluntarily publish annual sustainability reports and/or website ESG content. At issue is to what extent ESG reporting by publicly-traded companies should be required by SEC regulations.