Mike Mills

Mike Mills

Mike Mills is a partner and chair of the firm’s Oil & Gas, Pipelines and Mining Industry Team.  Oil & gas, as well as mining companies, look to Mike to skillfully advise them on natural resources development issues, counsel them on federal and state hazardous waste cleanup matters, and help them successfully navigate property tax valuation disputes. When necessary to protect his clients’ interests, Mike relies on his understanding of complex regulatory matters and his clients’ businesses to defend them in environmental litigation, defeat citizen suit claims, and reduce or eliminate fines and penalties. He has been listed in Northern California Super Lawyer® since 2013 in Environmental Law and Energy & Natural Resources.

 

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Following Ninth Circuit’s Lead, Fourth Circuit Expands CWA Jurisdiction to Groundwater Where “Connection” to Navigable Waters Exists

Reviving a federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”) lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that an indirect discharge – such as a discharge to ground water – may fall within the scope of the CWA, if the indirect discharge is sufficiently connected to navigable waters to be covered under the CWA.  … Continue Reading

Good for You, Great for Me: DOGGR Issues Notice to Operators with Guidance for Collection of Oilfield Water Quality Data

On March 7, 2018, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR,” or “Division”) published a notice to operators (“NTO”) regarding updated guidelines for oilfield water quality data.  The NTO outlines procedures for submission of oilfield water quality data by operators, including required notices, injectate samples, formation water samples, documentation and final report … Continue Reading

Another Hazardous Waste Enforcement Action Costs a Major Retailer Millions

On March 8, 2018, California regulators reached a settlement agreement with Home Depot wherein the retail giant agreed to pay $27.84 million for various hazardous waste violations.  The State hit Home Depot with penalties for alleged violations identified during inspections occurring between 2013 and 2015, due to improper disposal of certain types of waste, including … Continue Reading

Second Legislative Update: Oil & Gas Related Bills Introduced in the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Stoel Rives’ Oil & Gas Team has been monitoring bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 legislative session.  Below are the latest updates on the bills our team has been following during the first half of the current legislative session.  In addition, we have included new bills introduced during the second … Continue Reading

At the Intersection of Pollution and Poverty, California Attorney General Establishes Bureau of Environmental Justice, and Industry Should Get Prepared

On February 22, 2018, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the Department of Justice is opening an environmental justice office within the Environment Section: the Bureau of Environmental Justice (“Bureau”).  “The Bureau’s mission will be to protect people and communities that endure a disproportionate share of environmental pollution and public health hazards.”  Using existing … Continue Reading

California Issues Revised Proposed Underground Gas Storage Regulations

On February 12, 2018, the California Department of Conservation (“DOC”) issued a public notice announcing revisions to the text of the proposed regulations in the rulemaking for California Underground Gas Storage Projects.  This rulemaking follows a saga of rulemakings for underground gas storage projects in the state – both emergency and general rulemakings – which … Continue Reading

Injection Well Operators Beware: Ninth Circuit Finds Underground Injection Wells Require NPDES Permit under the Federal Clean Water Act

On February 1, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision, finding that the County of Maui violated the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) when it discharged treated effluent into underground injection wells, which then allowed the effluent to seep into the Pacific Ocean.  The Ninth Circuit panel held … Continue Reading

Trump EPA Will Not Stay Landfill Methane Rules

In early January 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) decided to halt previous proposals to stay methane rules for new and existing landfills.  The Obama Administration’s EPA issued the final New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) and Emissions Guidelines (“EG”) for municipal solid waste landfills on August 29, 2016 (jointly “Methane Rules”).  These updates to … Continue Reading

San Joaquin Valley Oil and Gas Operators Take Note: New Emission Rules and Compliance Deadlines

In March 2017, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) adopted regulations for Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities (“Methane Regulations”), which impose emission controls for oil and gas facilities across the state.  Following the state rulemaking process, ARB and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (“Air District”) – … Continue Reading

Ready or Not? Now’s the Time to Get Your Oil Spill Management Team OSPR Certification

The California Office of Spill Prevention and Response (“OSPR”), within the Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been tasked with new responsibilities related to oil spill response.  Assembly Bill 1197 (“AB 1197”), which was signed into law in October 2017 and goes into effect on January 1, 2018, authorizes spill management teams (“SMTs”) to apply … Continue Reading

How Low Can You Go? Proposed Agricultural Waste Discharge Requirements Impose Even More Stringent Demands on Central Valley Farmers

On October 10, 2017, the California State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) issued the second version of an order to modify agricultural waste discharge requirements (“Proposed Order”), under the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (“ILRP”).  Through the ILRP, the Water Board regulates discharges from irrigated agricultural lands across the state, especially within California’s Central Valley.  … Continue Reading

Update on a Prior Post: SB 774 is Tabled for the Legislative Session; No Toxic Substances Board

On September 14, 2017, Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) was ordered inactive on request of Assembly Member Calderon.  The bill, which proposed creation of the new California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”), will not become law this session, and we will continue to monitor this legislation if it becomes active again during the next legislative session. … Continue Reading

DOGGR Releases Proposed Pipeline Testing Regulations

On September 22, 2017, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its Pipeline Testing Regulations.  The Notice announces that DOGGR proposes to adopt regulations for pipeline testing and safety, as required under Assembly Bill 1420. Assembly Bill 1420 (“AB 1420”) went into effect on January … Continue Reading

Update on a Prior Post: Under Pressure SB 774 Has Been Amended – But the Appointed Toxic Substances Board Concept Remains in the Bill

Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) was amended in July 2017 to delete a section of the bill that would have allowed the new California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”) to adopt or amend relevant regulations.  Under the revised version of SB 774, the CTS Board is not permitted to adopt regulations and is no longer … Continue Reading

How Due Process Will Wither and Die under California’s New Air Contaminant Law: AB 1132 Authorizes Air Districts to Shut Down Facilities Without a Hearing

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1132 (“AB 1132”) into law on August 7, 2017.  The bill, authored by Democratic Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, adds Section 42451.5 to the Health and Safety Code which authorizes air districts to issue interim orders for abatement pending an abatement hearing for non-vehicular sources of air pollution.  The South Coast … Continue Reading

Legislative Update: Oil & Gas Related Bills Introduced in the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Stoel Rives’ Oil & Gas Team has been monitoring bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.  Below are the latest updates on a list of bills, summarized pursuant to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, that our team has been following and will continue to monitor as the 2017-2018 Legislative Session … Continue Reading

Bill Proposes an Appointed Board to Fix the Department of Toxics Substances Control; Will It Just Make Matters Worse?

Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) proposes to eliminate the Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) and form a five-member board, the California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”).  On June 1, the Senate approved the bill, and it is now awaiting is first policy committee hearing in the Assembly.  According to the bill’s text, “This bill … Continue Reading

Update: Oil & Gas Related Bills Introduced in the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Stoel Rives’ Oil & Gas Team has been monitoring bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.  June 2, 2017 was the deadline by which the Legislature was required to pass bills out of the house of origin. Failing to meet that deadline does not automatically prevent a bill from … Continue Reading

Senate Bill Proposes Major Market-Based Remodel of Cap-and-Trade Program

California’s cap-and-trade program withstood a battle in court, and now the Legislature is proposing changes to the controversial program.  Senator Bob Wieckowski (Democrat – District 10), Chair of the Environmental Quality Committee, has authored Senate Bill 775 (“SB 775”) which would extend the cap-and-trade program to 2030 with modifications.  The existing cap-and-trade program, established under … Continue Reading

Another Retailer Shells Out for Hazardous Waste Violations: Big Lots Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million

Following closely on the heels of Dollar General’s hazardous waste settlement (about which we reported in our April, 19, 2017 blog post), another discount retailer has been held to account in a big way for its failure to properly manage its waste streams.  On April 21, 2017, a San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge ordered … Continue Reading

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL UPDATE #3 – APRIL 24, 2017

This is the third update on environmental regulatory and legal developments in Los Angeles and adjacent counties, as well as the Southern San Joaquin Valley.  We welcome your comments and updates. South Coast Air Quality Management District *Governing Board Shift:  New Governing Board Member Sheila Kuehl replaced Mike Antonovich, returning the Board to a Democratic … Continue Reading

Retailers Beware! Dollar General Just Hit with $1.125 Million Judgment for Improper Hazardous Waste Handling and Disposal

Here’s another major reminder to retailers to know their waste streams and to make sure they are being managed and handled properly.  On Monday, Kern County Superior Court Judge Sidney P. Chapin ordered Dollar General (Dolgen California) and its subsidiary corporations to pay $1.125 million as part of a settlement of a civil/environmental prosecution.  The … Continue Reading

ARB Adopts GHG Emission Standards for Oil and Gas Facilities; Operators Wary of Costs

On March 23, 2017, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) adopted regulations for Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities (“Methane Regulations”).  The Methane Regulations impose emission controls on offshore and onshore oil production and processing facilities and at natural gas compressor stations, underground storage facilities, and gathering and boosting stations.… Continue Reading

Kern County Judge Grants Injunction, Blocking Blanket Enforcement of Oil Field Aquifer Exemption Regulations

A reported in a prior blog post, the Western States Petroleum Association (“WSPA”) sued the California Department of Conservation and the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (jointly, the “Department”) in Kern County Superior Court in January alleging that the Department’s oil field wastewater injection prohibitions violate WSPA’s members’ due process rights.  On March … Continue Reading
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