Feature

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP : Jane C. Luxton (Environmental Law, 2006) testified before the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives during a hearing about regulations on poly- and perfluorinated chemical substances (PFA) in May.

PFAs have been used to make things like food packaging, firefighting foam, and furniture for decades. The chemicals are linked to liver damage, impaired immune system function, and even some cancers. For lawmakers, PFAs have emerged as an area of serious concern as 43 states have reported some form of PFA contamination in their drinking water–potentially exposing 19 million Americans to drinking water contaminated with PFAs.

Legislators deliberated on 13 different approaches to dealing with the toxic chemicals that are threatening the health of millions of Americans. Some argued for a sweeping response to contain and control the threat, while others cautioned against the need for such regulation–citing incomplete scientific research. With anywhere between 4,000 and 5,000 types of PFAs, the best use of the EPAs time and efforts became a critical issue as legislators and advocates alike debated on whether or not a broad response would distract the EPA from the highest-risk chemicals. It is worth noting that no EPA spokespeople were present during the hearings in May in which Luxton testified.

Luxton’s testimony held the view that “blanket bans” would be precarious. She noted that the EPA has begun classifying PFAs as hazardous substances, an act that will empower the agency to determine which PFAs should be prioritized based on their potential danger to the public’s health. She also advised waiting for the EPA’s recommendation before deciding whether or not current environmental regulations are sufficient to deal with the issue. This will continue to be a hot-button issue for many Americans until both chambers of Congress get together and decide on an appropriate legislative response.

 

In the Headlines:

Reed Smith Law Firm: Grayson P. Hanes (Eminent Doman and Condemnation Law; Litigation – Real Estate; Litigation – Land use and Zoning, 1989 Real Estate Law) investigated on behalf of Jeff C. McKay (D-Lee), the front-runner in the Democratic race for board chair of Fairfax County, VA. McKay was accused of using his political position to receive favors after a memo was anonymously circulated amongst the members of the Fairfax County board of supervisors and the county attorney. The memo alleged McKay obtained his five-bedroom home through a quid pro quo with local developers. After Hanes sent his findings to the board members, he publicly declared that the original memo was the product of “a political hack job” and should be rejected, according to The Washington Post.

Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA : Timothy F. Maloney (Appellate Practice, Employment Law – Management; Employment Law – Individuals, 2020 Appellate Practice), a former member of Maryland’s House of Delegates, is using his expertise to help the family of 19-year-old Anton Black, a young African-American man who died in police custody last September. Black, who was outside his family’s home in a town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, was killed after an 11-minute encounter with three police officers. In June, the family’s legal team alleged that the police body-camera footage shown to Caroline County’s NAACP branch president was altered. Eastern Shore officials have since denied the allegations and still do not have plans to pursue criminal charges against anyone involved in the incidents on the night of Black’s death.

 

Honorable Mention:

Biberaj Snow & Sinclair, PC : Buta Biberaj (Criminal Defense: White-Collar; Criminal Defense: General Practice; DUI/DWI Defense, 2020 General Defense: General Practice) has been named the Democratic nominee in the Loudoun County commonwealth’s attorney race. Her campaign has emphasized the public cost of prosecution and incarceration in the County, both to promote transparency and to help lay the ground for her plans to tackle the “school to prison pipeline” and mass incarceration in the area.