In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on May 4 limited the legal reach of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as the Superfund law, in recovering cleanup costs from companies with possible links to pollution at sites. The high court said Shell Oil should not be held liable for contamination at an Arvin, Calif., site where it sold pesticides to a now-bankrupt chemical firm. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said liability under the relevant section of the Superfund law “does not extend beyond the limits of the statute itself.”
Some American Institute of Architects’ 2008 model contract documents for integrated project delivery are being challenged by at least one prominent lawyer who also is an architect and general counsel for a major A/E firm. The documents create a limited-liability company called a single-purpose entity (SPE). Do not use these model documents without “competent legal counsel review,” because they are “flawed,” says Bill Quatman, managing director for Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., Kansas City. The single-purpose-entity agreement sets up a limited-liability company that contracts for design and construction. Under the SPE model, the owner has three managers, controlling the board.
On April 30 at its national convention in San Francisco, the American Institute of Architects released replacement construction manager documents and an updated version of AIA Contracts Documents software. The CM documents cover CM as advisor and CM as constructor. The CM documents replace those released in 2007 and 2008. They include dispute resolution check box that enables parties to select the method of binding dispute resolution. They incorporate the concept of an initial decision maker fill point where the owner and contractor may identify a third neutral party IDM other than the architect. The documents include digital data provisions
On April 27, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Green Building Certification Institute released LEED Version 3. The latest version of the green building rating system, in the works for more than three years, "sets the stage for the growth and improvement of the whole LEED program for the next several years," says Mike Optiz, USGBC's vice president for LEED implementation. The current release includes LEED 2009, LEED Online Version 3 and a new certification process based on ISO standards, administered by the GBCI. It also updates all the LEED categories at once. These include LEED for new construction,
After weeks of preparation, the Army Corps of Engineers has released its detailed plan of how it plans to spend the $4.6 billion the economic-stimulus measure provides for its civil-works program. The legislation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, split the money into six categories. The largest shares are $2.1 billion for the Corps operations-and-maintenance account and $2 billion for the construction program. The new Corps list, released on April 28, covers 1,191 projects, including 892 operation- and-maintenance items and 178 in the construction account. “I’m very encouraged by what I see,” says John Doyle, Waterways Council Inc. vice president
Sen. Arlen Specter’s April 28 announcement that he has switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party will give Democrats a filibuster-proof 60-vote Senate majority, if Al Franken retains his tight lead in the unsettled Minnesota race. Specter, of Pennsylvania, will run as a Democrat in 2010. He was facing an uphill battle in the 2010 GOP primary against conservative Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Specter says the Republican Party has shifted far to the right of where it was when he was elected in 1980. “I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” he said.
The $33.2-billion price tag for implementing the Pentagon’s current Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round is 48% higher than the Dept. of Defense initially anticipated, says Wayne Arny, deputy undersecretary of defense. The factors behind the increase include the effect of inflation and the construction of additional facilities, Arny told the House military construction appropriations subcommittee at an April 22 hearing. For the Army, 2009 is the largest year of the current BRAC round, with 96 contracts slated to be awarded, said Keith Eastin, an assistant Army secretary. Fiscal 2010 will be the current closure-and-realignment round’s final year. Past years’
Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a new $3.1-billion Strip resort, is suing its lenders for reneging on a critical $800-million construction loan. The 63-story, 3,815-room development is about 70% complete and scheduled to open in October. On April 23, an investment group led by Miami-based developer Jeffrey Soffer filed a $3-billion lawsuit in Clark County District Court against the project’s 11 lenders for refusing to provide prearranged financing. The developer already has invested over $2 billion in the project. A deepening recession and frozen credit markets make new financing difficult. Fontainebleau had hoped to raise $700 million to $900 million through condominium
The Obama administration has extended the deadline until June 30 for implementation of mandatory E-Verify use by federal contractors to determine employment eligibility of their new hires. The policy was set to go into effect on Jan. 15. “The extension provides the administration an adequate opportunity to review the entire rule prior to its applicability to federal contractors and subcontractors,” says the Dept. of Homeland Security.
While environmental groups are cheering the Environmental Protection Agency’s April 17 announcement that it has determined that greenhouse gases could pose a threat to public health and welfare, critics charge that using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions could prove costly. “Trying to regulate [greenhouse emissions] under the Clean Air Act is going to add costs and delays to transportation projects,” says Nick Goldstein, American Road and Transportation Builders Association assistant general counsel and director of regulatory affairs. WAXMAN EPA’s “endangerment” finding, which is subject to a 60-day comment period before it becomes final, is not a formal