Environmental brief ~ James Hardie Ind. to pay $3.2B to Australian asbestos victims News
Environmental brief ~ James Hardie Ind. to pay $3.2B to Australian asbestos victims

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's environmental law news, James Hardie Industries [corporate website] signed an agreement [press release] Thursday with the government of New South Wales [official website] to pay $4.5 billion to compensate Australian asbestos victims. Hardie, a building products company, will make payments capped at no more than 35 percent of the company's cash flow in any year into a compensation fund for at least 40 years, provide $5 million to fund medical research into asbestos diseases and pay $750,000 for an asbestos education campaign. There is no overall cap on the liability of Hardie to make funding payments, and no caps on payments to individual victims. AAP has more.

In other environmental law news…

  • The Kyoto Protocol [text] has become operational [PDF press release] following the adoption of the final regulatory "rule book" by its 35 signatory nations at the UN Conference on Climate Change [official website] Wednesday. The rule book establishes a Joint Implementation board to oversee emissions trading, the clean development mechanism which grants credits for investing in foreign sustainable development projects, and other operational guidelines. AFP has more.
  • The US Departments of Commerce [official website], Labor [official website], Transportation [official website], and Veterans Administration [official website] have settled a case for violating the federal Energy Policy Act [text] which requires that 75 percent of the new cars and light trucks bought by federal agencies run on alternative fuels. The agencies agreed to specific plans to increase purchases of alternative fuel vehicles over the next three years, and will provide the plaintiffs with their purchasing reports. AP has more.
  • The head of the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy [official website] and the British Energy Minister [official website] signed [press release] an agreement [PDF text] Wednesday to develop a system for injecting carbon dioxide into oil fields under the North Sea. The proposed system would decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. AFP has more.
  • The Tokyo High Court ordered the Japanese government Wednesday to pay 3.25 billion yen (approx. US$27M) to an estimated 6,000 residents living near the US Yokota Air Base [official website] for noise pollution violations. The ruling will compensate people living around the base, regardless of when they moved there, but the court said it was unable to order the suspension of early morning or night flights, an action sought by the plaintiffs. The Japan Times has more.