Fines for Record-keeping Failures Key to Continual Success of RCRA

Recently, Whole Foods, a health foods grocery chain was fined $3.5 million for violating hazardous waste reporting requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The company failed to adequately record and catalog its hazardous waste in stores in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. The store issued a statement explaining that it failed to properly report some of the returned products, which qualify as hazardous waste (nail polish, bleach, hand sanitizer, etc.). The company has agreed to pay the fine, in addition to implementing training and providing funding to educate other businesses.

Although this fine may seem harsh or unwarranted, given that the company was not accused of improperly disposing of hazardous waste, and the violation was limited to inadequate record keeping, the fine is warranted nonetheless given how the hazardous waste statute was designed to work. In order to protect human health and the environment from improper treatment or illegal dumping, as well as to reduce the amount of hazardous waste that is generated nationwide, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) gives the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) the power to regulate hazardous waste “from cradle-to-grave.” This means that hazardous waste is tracked throughout its life-cycle, primarily by way of record keeping by multiple parties, including generators and transporters of the hazardous waste.

For this tracking safeguard to work effectively against illegal dumping or other improper disposal, fines must be sufficiently serious to ensure compliance and to discourage a company’s choice to simply opt for paying the fine. Otherwise, RCRA’s “cradle-to-grave” approach would fail. In the Whole Foods case, the substantial fine issued unambiguously signals to other entities the importance of record-keeping and the significant costs they may face if they do not comply with RCRA’s reporting requirements.

Courtney Eggleston, 3L

Santa Clara University 2016 Fall Lecture Series: What is at Stake for Environmental Justice in 2016? The Elusive Role of Race and Equity in Environmental Regulation

Tseming Yang, Christopher Bacon

October 11, 2016 | 4 – 5:15pm
St Clare Room, Library/Learning Commons, Santa Clara University

Almost 35 years have passed since protests in Warren County, NC against the siting of a toxic waste disposal facility in a predominantly African-American community trained nationwide attention on the emerging environmental justice movement.  Even as the term of the country’s first African -American President comes to an end, however, the goal of environmental justice remains unfulfilled.  The talk will review the history of the movement, how it has changed perspectives on the role of race and equity in environmentalism and regulatory policy, and some of the remaining key challenges that face the next Administration.

The 2016-2018 Bannan Institute: Is There A Common Good in Our Common Home? A Summons to Solidarity will explore pressing issues of racial and ethnic justice, economic justice, gender justice, and environmental justice facing our world today, and advance the Jesuit, Catholic vocation of SCU, building a more humane, just, and sustainable world.   


Crossing of Second (and Final) Key Threshold of Paris Climate Agreement has Triggered the Thirty-day clock for Entry-into-force

04-21-unfccc-parisYesterday, Wednesday October 5, was a big day for the Paris Climate Agreement.  With 10 countries and the European Union depositing instruments of ratification , the Agreement’s second key threshold for entry-into-force has now been satisfied. The 10 countries were Austria, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Nepal, Portugal and Slovakia. Per the UNFCCC website, the Agreement’s current total number of 74 parties now account for 58.82% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than the 55% threshold for entry-into-force under Article 21.  (The first key threshold, 55 parties, was crossed a couple of weeks ago.)

Just as a point of general interest: for purposes of satisfying the entry-into-force threshold, the EU’s ratification does not count, though it was critical for allowing the EU member countries to ratify the Paris Agreement (here Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia).  The simple reason for that is to avoid double-counting.  At the same time, EU ratification of (and membership in) the Paris Agreement is necessary per the internal structure of the EU and the types of government authorities that have been transferred from the member states to the EU.

Crossing the second and final threshold also means that the 30-day countdown to the entry-into-force, i.e. the legal effectiveness of the treaty, has now been triggered.  The Agreement’s provisions will become legally effective on November 4, just in time for the next scheduled international climate change meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, starting November 7 (referred to as COP 21 because it will also serve as the 21st annual meeting of the original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change parties).

And finally, it also means that the United States and all other current parties are now locked into the Paris Agreement for at least three years, starting November 4, 2016 (per Article 28).  [Edit:  As it was kindly pointed out by Steve Wolfson and others, Article 28.3 provides that withdrawal from the underlying UN Framework Convention on Climate Change automatically also withdraws a party from the Paris Agreement. (“Any Party that withdraws from the Convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from this Agreement.”)  The Convention only has 1 year waiting period for withdrawal.  Hence, using the Convention’s  withdrawal process could allow a country to withdraw from the Paris Agreement within 1 year, rather than 3 years.]

Hip hip hooray for the Paris Agreement!

Summer Clerkship: Environmental Law Institute, Law Clerk (Deadline: Oct. 14, 2016, Washington, DC)

Law Clerk

In accord with our mission to build the skills and capacity of tomorrow’s leaders, ELI provides opportunities for law students to join us at the Institute. We welcome applications from current law students interested in working as a law clerk either over the summer (10 weeks or more) or during the school year (12 hours or more per week). Additional opportunities, including financial support, are available during the summer for law students from traditionally underrepresented perspectives.

Law clerks work closely with ELI experts on domestic and international research projects spanning ELI’s full range of program areas. Law clerks may also assist in the editing and production of ELI publications, such as the Environmental Law Reporter. Law clerks provide crucial support for ELI projects and publications by conducting legal and policy research, drafting memoranda, attending and reporting on briefings and current events, and assisting in the preparation of reports and other published materials.

We encourage law clerks to supplement their work experience by attending the lunchtime seminars and events that ELI hosts, as well as social and networking opportunities provided by ELI and our partners.

To Apply: Interested candidates should submit an application to Please include a cover letter, resume (including law school and undergrad GPAs), references, law school transcript, and writing sample. Cover letters should address the candidates’ personal goals and interests, as well as their experience and interest in environmental law and policy.

Deadline: Applications for the 2017 summer are due October 14; applications for spring and fall positions are accepted on a rolling basis.

Click here for information about the Henry L. Diamond B&D Law Clerk position.

Fellowship: Environmental Law Institute, Public Interest Law Fellowship (Deadline: Nov. 1, 2016, Washington, DC)


The Environmental Law Institute (ELI), based in Washington, DC, is accepting applications for several positions that may be of interest to law students considering careers in environmental law and policy. Please feel free to share this information broadly.

Public Interest Law Fellowship. Each year, ELI hires one or more recent law school graduates to work closely with the Institute’s attorneys and other professionals to advance environmental protection through the effective use of law and policy. Successful candidates for the one-year fellowship will have a strong academic background, superior legal research and writing skills, and a demonstrated interest in environmental issues. Applications for 2017-18 are now being accepted through November 1, 2016.

Law Clerkships. ELI offers clerkship positions for law students during the summer as well as during the spring and fall semesters. Law clerks work closely with ELI experts on domestic and international research projects spanning the Institute’s full range of program areas. The position involves conducting legal and policy research, drafting memoranda, attending and reporting on briefings and current events, and assisting in the preparation of reports and other published materials. Acceptance for the spring is rolling, and we will begin reviewing applications for the summer on October 14, 2016. Additionally, Beveridge & Diamond PC provides financial support for one ELI law clerk during the summer. This Henry L. Diamond B&D Law Clerk position is open to students from traditionally underrepresented perspectives, including minority students and students from disadvantaged households. The deadline for applications is October 14, 2016.

For more information about any of these positions, or to apply, please visit:

The Environmental Law Institute is strongly committed to providing equal employment opportunity and to achieving an inclusive, diverse workplace that values every individual.

Position: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Senior Deputy General Counsel (Deadline October 4, 2016, Los Angeles, CA)

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a consortium of twenty-six cities and water districts that provides drinking water to nearly 19 million people in Southern California. Metropolitan’s mission is to provide its service area with adequate and reliable supplies of high quality water to meet current and future needs in an environmentally and economically responsible way. Metropolitan’s facilities include the 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct, five conventional water treatment plants with a combined capacity of 2.6 billion gallons per day, nine surface water reservoirs, 800 miles of pipeline, and 16 hydroelectric power plants.

Job Summary

This position will report to the General Counsel and will have the opportunity to work in an invigorating, collaborative and challenging legal environment as a member of a highly professional and effective team of 20 attorneys plus paralegals and support staff, providing a variety of legal services in many different areas.

This Senior Deputy General Counsel serves as a legal expert for and on behalf of Metropolitan, and is responsible for safeguarding and enhancing Metropolitan’s rights, entitlements, interests, and assets. The job duties and minimum qualifications for the Senior Deputy General Counsel position in general are described below. For the posted position, the ideal candidate will have knowledge and directly related experience in environmental litigation, natural resources, and/or water law as well as knowledge and experience in California water resource issues including those relating to the Law of the Colorado River and the California State Water Project. Knowledge of public agency laws such as the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act and experience working in or for the public sector providing legal advice to and working with boards, committees or legislative bodies, including serving as counsel during public meetings and hearings, is preferred. The Senior Deputy should feel comfortable handling litigation in a variety of substantive areas and be willing to learn new matters. The Senior Deputy needs to work well with others, both internally and externally, and be comfortable working as part of a team. May act as a lead coordinating and reviewing work assignments of employees and outside counsel performing the same general work on a day-to-day basis.

1. Takes lead role in performing complex legal assignments, including document preparation, negotiations, litigation and appeal, in a wide range of highly complex legal specialties that may include water, environmental, natural resources, public finance, public contract, construction, labor, property, power, and/or tort law.

2. Advises the General Counsel, senior management and Metropolitan’s Board on highly complex agreements, negotiations, administrative proceedings, and litigation in respective areas of expertise; performs, and may manage, legal analyses of issues related to areas of expertise; assists General Counsel and management with development of viable courses of action to achieve appropriate management decisions and protect Metropolitan’s interests.

3. Manages an area or areas of legal expertise within the Legal Department and may manage outside counsel and experts in the preparation of materials, documents, and plans related to legal assignments to ensure that the presentation of Metropolitan’s position is complete, accurate, legally sound, and supports near and long-term strategic objectives.

4. Prepares and presents information to the Board, in written form and/or by spoken presentation, on more complex legal matters; conducts legal research and prepares written legal opinions on more complex legal issues responding to questions from staff and the Board.

5. Coordinates activities related to legal assignments with internal and external contacts (including other Legal Department staff and management) to ensure that preparation, negotiations, administrative proceedings, and litigation occur in a timely manner and that Metropolitan’s interests are protected.

6. Reviews, analyzes and drafts legislation in areas of expertise and prepares responses to legislative and regulatory proposals to promote laws, legal interpretations, and regulations that are in Metropolitan’s best interest. May draft resolutions for the Board and amendments to Metropolitan’s Administrative Code and reviews contracts, operating policies, standards, and procedures for compliance with internal guidelines and objectives and conformity with applicable laws and regulations.

7. Serves on ad hoc and formal committees and task forces related to areas of expertise. Represents Metropolitan’s interests in a collaborative, informed, and timely manner.

8. Provides guidance and legal expertise to other employees and external representatives to ensure that actions taken are in compliance with objectives, guidelines, legal requirements, precedents, and policies; assists in the performance of administrative duties related to budget development and administration, approval of Board Letters, and preparation of annual business plans for Legal to ensure timely and cost-effective accomplishment of administrative activities.

9. Performs other related job duties as required.

Job Requirements

Directly related law practice experience includes but is not limited to: experience in environmental litigation, natural resources, and/or water law; experience in California water resource issues including those relating to the Law of the Colorado River and the California State Water Project.

Required Knowledge of: Administrative proceedings and litigation before state and federal agencies and courts in primary and/or assisting capacity; water, environmental, natural resources, public finance, contract, construction, labor, property, power and/or tort law.

Required Skills and Abilities to: Conduct more complex problem-solving related to administrative, regulatory, and legislative law in area of expertise, interpret and apply Federal, State and local policies, laws, and regulations; perform duties using a high degree of independent judgment; communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing to a wide variety of audiences; establish and maintain effective working relationships; prepare detailed, more complex verbal and written communications on a wide variety of legal issues related to Metropolitan’s rights, entitlements, interests, and assets; manage cost effective legal representation; read, understand and accurately interpret more complex rules, regulations, laws, legislation, policy, and guidelines applicable to area of expertise; provide timely and accurate legal analyses and advice in area of expertise to management and the Board of Directors; conduct more complex contract negotiations involving more sensitive and controversial issues and/or conduct litigation on complex assignments; promote mutually beneficial working relationships with member agencies, external regulatory agencies and other government agencies.

Certificates, Licenses and Registrations Requirements:
California State Bar Member (member in good standing, with either active membership or the ability to activate membership prior to employment.)

The physical demands and work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met or may be encountered by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Physical Demands:
The work is sedentary. Typically, the employee may sit comfortably to do the work. However, there may be some walking; standing; bending; carrying of light items such as paper, books, or small parts; driving an automobile, etc. No special physical demands are required to perform the work.

Work Environment: The work environment involves everyday risks or discomforts that require normal safety precautions typical of such places as offices, meeting and training rooms, libraries, and residences or commercial vehicles, e.g., use of safe work practices with office equipment, avoidance of trips and falls, observance of fire regulations and traffic signals, etc. The work area is adequately lighted, heated, and ventilated.

This classification performs work that requires maintaining confidentiality and is routinely privy to matters that either involves confidential information, sensitive personnel issues, or exposure to confidential and sensitive strategic corporate information.

Work Schedule: 9/80 (Alternating Fridays off)



• Competitive compensation

• Excellent medical, dental, life, vision

• Retirement plans, including pension plan and 401k

• Tuition reimbursement

• Training and advancement opportunities

• Excellent working environment

• Public transportation reimbursements and van pools

• On-site fitness center

• Hub of public transportation:  Rail, subway, buses and taxis


For more information on MWD benefits, please use the following link:


This job announcement has been designed to indicate the general nature and level of work being performed by employees in this classification. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job. To receive a copy of the complete job description, please send an email to


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. Qualified individuals with disabilities who need a reasonable accommodation during the application or selection process, please call (213) 217-7738 or email


MWD is a Federal and State EO employer – Veterans/Disabled and other protected categories.

Running the San Jose Half Marathon Today

img_1506I finished the San Jose Half Marathon in 2:23:51 today, more than 15 minutes faster than I had expected.  My running group included my good friend Professor Frank Wu (of Hastings College of Law) and Professor Carol Suzuki (of Univ. New Mexico Law School).  My friend Frank let me win, as a sign of respect for an elder — in fact, he let me win convincingly (by more than five minutes) so that it would like it was real.

At the finish line, I ran into my former student Parminder, who graduated last year.  Below are a few pictures of me at mile 9, with Parminder, with my spouse Tinling and daughter Gwen-Zoe, and an after-race lunch photo with Frank and Carol.  There will probably be a rematch in the coming months.