Creating a Timeline of Fossil Fuel Disasters in America

As mentioned in a previous case study, much of the work we do in support of environmental law and toxic tort cases involves compiling comprehensive site histories. We work with our clients to come up with cost-efficient research strategies to answer their most pressing environmental and historical questions for litigation. Rarely do we get the chance to work outside our normal realm of legal clients and beyond the scope of a single site history, but that is exactly what happened over the past year in this unique case involving research into fossil fuel disasters in the United States for a non-legal client.

Understanding the Historical Environmental Story Behind the EPA’s Animas River Spill

It’s been over a week since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inadvertently released an estimated three million tons of toxic wastewater into the Animas River, which temporarily turned the river orange. The long term effects on the 126 mile-long waterway that flows south from Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to Farmington, New Mexico where it joins with the San Juan River, are yet to be discovered.

The Needle in the Haystack

Given our extensive knowledge of federal, state, and local records collections, law firms and businesses often come to us in search of historical documentation that will support their cases or tell their unique stories. But when we take on projects, we never know just how much documentation we’ll discover. Sometimes it’s a lot – enough to fill up several Bankers Boxes. Other times, it’s not so much, and only a file folder or two is required. Recently, we unearthed a handful of documents for an environmental case, though we had combed through many relevant collections at federal repositories in the Washington, D.C. area. This was a perfect example of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack, where one document (out of only the aforementioned handful) proved invaluable to our client.

Reconstructing the History of a City Block

Much of the work we do in support of environmental law and toxic tort cases involves compiling comprehensive site histories. We work with our clients to come up with cost-efficient research strategies to compile these site histories, which help answer their most pressing environmental or historical questions. We’ve broadly discussed this type of work before in relation to chemical releases into local waterways. Today, we’d like to take the opportunity to discuss a specific case in which we reconstructed the history of an entire city block.

Crowdsourcing with the Help of Citizen Historians and Archivists

In our last post, we provided insight into how we find information for our clients. We explained that we spend most of our time in the field at libraries and archival repositories because, even in the era of Google, most of the historical records we’re after just aren’t online. Maybe they will be one day, but not any time soon. That’s not to say that public libraries, government agencies, and cultural institutions aren’t doing their best to digitize their collections and make them accessible online. Many repositories have embraced the power of the crowd to carry out their public-service oriented missions, which is good news for the general public and historical researchers like us who have insatiable appetites for finding and interpreting historical information.

T&H Behind the Scenes: Finding Information

When you are looking for information these days, where’s the first place you turn? Let us guess: Google. Often times, we do the same. A quick Google search helps us identify repositories (archives, libraries, historical societies, government agencies, and the like) that might hold pertinent record collections for the projects we take on.

Taylor & Hammel’s Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season for warm coats, hot chocolate, family gatherings, religious celebrations, and, well, let’s face it, shopping. For those of you who groan at that very word, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of gift ideas for the history fanatic in your life. The best part? We’ve included one that will cost you absolutely nothing.

How Will We Celebrate Thanksgiving in Years to Come?

Looking back into the past is what we do for our clients every day. To be sure, we love it. We’re always learning something new – and not just about what happened in the past, but about what that means for today as well as for tomorrow.

EPA’s Proposed Clean Power Plan: The Historical Context and Future Implications of Section 111(d)

We recently attended the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) 2014 Fall Conference in Miami, where the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan and the future of compliance was comprehensively discussed, analyzed, and debated from the beginning of the conference to the very end. The topic is of interest to us given our expertise in conducting historical environmental research into former industrial sites and manufactured gas plants, as well as our desire to improve and expand our research services in support of clients affected by emerging environmental litigation.

Fracking: A Historical Research Perspective

The business of natural gas production has been booming over the last decade thanks to recent technological improvements, namely horizontal drilling coupled with hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as fracking). This has given energy companies the ability to extract unconventional natural gas from previously impermeable shale rock formations.