You might assume that if an endangered species is nowhere to be found on your property, you can rest easy. “No,” said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which decided in 2012 that if your land might be a good place for the Dusky Gopher frog to live, you might be subject to development restrictions under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
Most industry professionals are aware that a revised set of California Proposition 65 or “Prop. 65” regulations will take effect at the end of the month on August 30, 2018. Prop. 65 is a so-called right-to-know statute that, among other things, requires manufacturers and retailers to provide any California consumer with a “clear and reasonable” warning prior to exposure to a chemical identified on a list developed and maintained by a California agency. The revised Prop. 65 regulations pertain to the standard for providing consumers a “clear and reasonable” warning. The revised regulations can be found here and require warnings containing a greater level of specificity.
The Maine DEP is proposing changes to its wetlands rules that clarify the definition of wetlands of special significance. Wetlands of special significance (WOSS) include coastal wetlands and great ponds, as well as other freshwater wetlands with certain qualifying attributes such as size, the presence of critical or imperiled plant communities, or location within significant wildlife habitat or a peatland. Activities within a WOSS are allowed only for limited purposes including health and safety, crossings by road, rail or utility lines, water dependent uses, certain expansions of existing facilities, mineral excavation, walkways, and restoration projects. The existing rule provides that any wetland that contains qualifying attributes is a WOSS. This has meant that even those portions of a wetland that do not contain the qualifying attributes were still treated as a WOSS. In some cases, this has meant heightened protection for lower value wetlands distant from the protected resource that resulted in the WOSS designation.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed changes to Chapters 850 (identification of hazardous wastes), 851 (standards for generators of hazardous waste), 852 (land disposal restrictions) and 858 (universal waste rules). The proposed changes, which were posted for public comment on February 21, incorporate new and revised federal regulations, update formatting of the rules, and reflect changes in Maine’s hazardous waste laws.
Americans are increasingly sensitive to the ingredients that go into the food that we eat. Recently, Congress passed a law requiring manufacturers to label or place QR codes on products containing or made from genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”). Now, consumer advocates have turned their attention to food products bearing the word “natural,” raising legal risks for all food manufacturers who label products with that term.