Defending Environmental Common Law Claims After Bell v. Cheswick: Is Federal Permit Compliance Enough?

Assessing the Future of Preemption, Leveraging Potential Analogous State Law Arguments, and Demonstrating Due Care

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide perspectives and analysis of the implications of the Third Circuit's decision in Bell v. Cheswick Generating Station for toxic tort litigation. The panel will offer guidance on steps counsel can take to mitigate liability on state law claims for companies compliant with federal permits.


In a first impression matter, the Third Circuit held the Clean Air Act does not preempt common law tort claims—even if facility owners/operators are in compliance with a federal permit. The Aug. 20, 2013, decision in Bell v. Cheswick Generating Station has important implications for environmental liability.

The court reasoned the Clean Air Act’s savings clause preserved the rights and remedies under state common law with regard to stationary sources. The implications for plaintiffs and defendants is significant and provides a basis to open the proverbial floodgates to nuisance and other state claims.

Counsel should consider advising clients that federal permit compliance will not necessarily be a shield from environmental liability and litigation. Practitioners must consider whether additional steps are needed to reduce exposure to environmental claims and litigation.

Listen as our authoritative panel of environmental law practitioners examines the Bell decision, discusses its impact on potential environmental liability, and reviews how other jurisdictions are treating the issue. The panel will offer best practices for counsel to guide clients in mitigating liability claims that may be outside the reach of federal permits.



  1. Bell v. Cheswick Generating Station (3d Cir. Aug. 20, 2013)
    1. The decision
    2. Potential impact
    3. What does this mean for plaintiffs?
    4. What does this mean for defendants?
  2. Court treatment by other jurisdictions
  3. Best practices to mitigate liability


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the implications of the Third Circuit's Bell decision for federal environmental permit holders?
  • What protective steps should counsel advise to reduce the likelihood of litigation outside the protection of federal permit compliance?
  • What types of state law claims did the Third Circuit suggest would not be preempted by the federal law?
  • What is the anticipated impact of the Bell ruling on other toxic tort litigation?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Mark W. DeLaquil
Mark W. DeLaquil


Mr. DeLaquil focuses his practice on complex environmental and regulatory proceedings. He represents and counsels...  |  Read More

Jonathan S. Martel
Jonathan S. Martel

Arnold & Porter

Mr. Martel concentrates his practice on Clean Air Act matters, including regulatory and compliance counseling,...  |  Read More

Stacey O’Bryan Myers
Stacey O’Bryan Myers

Hunsucker Goodstein

Ms. Myers manages cases for both plaintiffs and defendants in the Environmental and Natural Resources and Insurance...  |  Read More

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