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Yesterday, our colleagues James Gallagher, Kevin Slattum and Glenn Sweatt published their client alert discussing a recent and important decision issued by the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) in Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems, Inc., ASBCA Nos. 59508 and 59509. The decision exposes what has been in recent years an all-too-familiar practice by the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) of questioning the allowability of government contractor costs based on meritless arguments and the Defense Contract Management Agency’s (DCMA) related rubber- stamping of the DCCA’s disallowance of costs without proper exercise of its authority. The alert is titled Warning Shot Fired (Finally) at Improper DCAA Cost Disallowance Basis.

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“The old order changeth, yielding place to new.” January 2017 has been a very active month, with several important environmental and federal administrative court rulings being issued, and many significant rules being proposed and finalized. Here’s a selection: Continue reading

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Today, our colleagues Norman Carlin and Kevin Ashe posted their client alert on the California Environmental Protection Agency’s and Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s recent release of an “Update to the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool,” better known as CalEnviroScreen Version 3.0. CalEnviroScreen is a software tool used to identify and direct resources to communities affected by pollution, based on environmental exposure and population data. As guidance for prior CalEnviroScreen versions made clear, however, the tool’s approach to “cumulative impacts” is very different from that of environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). While Version 3.0 omits a clear statement to that effect, lead agencies and project proponents should be confident that CEQA law has not changed and CalEnviroScreen remains the wrong tool for CEQA review of local projects and permitting decisions. The alert is titled CalEnviroScreen 3.0 – Still the Wrong Tool  for CEQA Review.

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Recently, our colleagues Emily Erlingsson, Kathy Donovan and Anita Mayo posted their client alert discussing the amendments made by the Office of Government Ethics to the executive branch gift rules. These changes included clarifications to existing gift exceptions that are commonly used by corporations and organizations whose employees interact with federal officials. The changes and clarifications seek to strengthen the executive branch gift rules and increase transparency. The alert is titled 2017 Brings Changes to the Federal Executive Branch Gift Rules.

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Recently, our colleagues Michael Reese, Andrew Home and Roland Backhaus posted their client alert discussing the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. This legislation creates new obligations as well as new opportunities for infrastructure constructors, owners/operators of public water systems and their lenders. This new legislation and related appropriations may pave the way for President-elect Trump’s proposed significant investment in American water infrastructure. The alert is titled 2016 Water Legislation Reaches New Areas & Sets the Stage for President-Elect Trump

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Last summer, in the waning stages of the Supreme Court’s 2015-2016 term, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion reversing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s use of Chevron deference to overrule a district court which had decided that neither the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) nor the varying interpretations of the special automotive dealership regulatory interpretations excluded service advisors from the exemptions for overtime compensation. The case is Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro. Now, on remand, the Ninth Circuit, again, has concluded that service advisors are entitled to overtime pay and compensation.

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OSHA has just published a Final Rule restating its interpretation of the “continuing violations” theory. There are now two Circuit Court of Appeals rulings that disagree with this interpretation: AKM LLC dba Volks Contractors v. Secretary of Labor, et al. (Volks) and Delek Refining, Limited v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, et al. (Delek).

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On January 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a ruling reversing the district court’s decision that Asarco could not proceed with its claims for cost recovery at a Utah Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) mining site. The case is Asarco, LLC v. Noranda Mining, Inc.

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Recently Law360 published my three-part series covering 2016’s most significant environmental cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts. Part 1 covers the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts sitting in the D.C., First, Second, Third and Fourth Circuits. Part 2 highlighted cases decided by the federal courts sitting in the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Circuits. Part 3 covers cases decided in the Tenth and Eleventh Circuits, as well as several state supreme courts.

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On December 22, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an opinion in Water Quality Insurance Syndicate v. U.S., which reversed the Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center’s (NPFC) finding of gross negligence by the captain of the MONARCH, a supply vessel that collided with an offshore oil and gas production platform in the Cook Inlet, AL. This decision may have significant implications for insurers. Continue reading