On September 28, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) issued a memorandum outlining a Climate Enforcement and Compliance Strategy, identifying several steps the office plans to take to address climate change (the Strategy Memo). As part of the strategy, EPA plans to expand its efforts to address climate change by increased enforcement of rules governing greenhouse gas–forming pollutants and incorporating climate-related mitigation efforts, including renewable energy projects into settlements as mitigation or supplemental environmental projects. The Strategy Memo comes only a month after EPA issued its first-ever national enforcement and compliance initiative on climate change.
On June 13, 2023, the Biden administration released the 2023 Spring Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Agenda). The Agenda lists federal agencies’ planned “short-term” regulatory actions to be taken over the next 12 months and “long-term” actions under development. The dates listed in the Agenda are based on publication dates in the Federal Register. Stakeholders should take note, as the Agenda provides a window into the administration’s priorities and strategies:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued, on May 5, 2023, a request for information seeking input on the availability of zero-emission technologies in the heavy-duty vehicle and port sectors toward establishing funding programs under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). EPA requests comment from manufacturers, distributors, installers, fleet operators, and port operators about their products and experience with zero-emission technologies.
On Thursday, March 30, 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act. The bill — the GOP’s energy policy and permitting bill — passed by a vote of 225 to 204, with four Democrats joining Republicans in voting to pass the bill and one Republican legislator voting against it.
On January 19, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Notice soliciting public comment on its proposal to add environmental justice, climate change, and per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination to its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (NECIs) for the 2024–2027 fiscal year cycle.
On November 16, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released an updated version of its 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality. The plan sets ambitious goals for achieving carbon neutrality in California by 2045. Despite the plan’s being only a guiding document, it will likely lead to other agency actions that set stringent requirements related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
On November 10, 2022, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, composed of the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and chaired by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget, issued a proposed rule that would require certain federal contractors to disclose climate-related information to the System for Award Management (SAM) and, in certain instances, make such information publicly available on its website. (more…)
On October 14, 2022, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and other major energy companies petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to send a climate change lawsuit back to state court (the Petition). In the underlying lawsuit, the City of Baltimore is seeking climate-change-related infrastructure damages for the defendants’ alleged deception of consumers and the public about climate change. The defendants previously removed the case to federal court, but the District Court for the District of Maryland remanded the case to state court—a decision the Fourth Circuit later upheld. (more…)
Sidley Austin lawyers say that developers should proactively engage agencies in order to effectively leverage Inflation Reduction Act tax credits and federal funds for carbon capture and sequestration projects. The permitting and approval process is ripe for reform, they say.
On September 21, 2022, the U.S. Senate voted to ratify the Kigali Amendment, an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that addresses hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), six years after the Kigali Amendment was officially adopted at the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on October 15, 2016, in Kigali, Rwanda. While the Montreal Protocol originally sought only to phase out the consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, the Kigali Amendment established plans to reduce the production and consumption of HFCs — greenhouse gases with high global warming potential — by more than 80% over the next few decades. (more…)