Environmental Disclosures: This Looks Like a Job for … the SEC?

$600 Billion. That is the amount of money directly attributed to weather events brought on or exacerbated by climate change over the past five years. Now a coalition of states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and led by California (the Coalition), are pushing for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require U.S. companies to disclose their financial risks posed by climate change.

As stated in a press release by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, “Rising temperatures are …

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The Methane Moment

On April 28, 2021, the U.S. Senate voted 52-42 to restore regulations on the oil and gas industry to address methane emissions. Specifically, the regulation will seek to limit methane gas leaks relating to drilling operations by establishing stricter monitoring requirements and requiring corrective actions when leaks are detected. While methane only represents 10 percent of the United States greenhouse gas emissions, it is more efficient at trapping radiation than other greenhouse gases. Due to this characteristic, methane is viewed as a key contributor to …

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President Biden Continues to Act on Climate Change with Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk

On May 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on climate-related financial risk, in which the new president directs the federal government to develop a strategy to curb the risk of climate change on public and private financial assets in the United States. The order notes that it is the policy of the administration to “advance consistent, clear, intelligible, comparable, and accurate disclosure of climate-related financial risk” and directs certain federal agencies to incorporate climate risk and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into …

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Department of the Interior Pivots toward Renewable Energy

On April 16, 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued two Secretarial Orders intended to prioritize battling the effects of climate change by promoting cleaner energy and modifying the decision-making process concerning federal energy development projects.

SO 3398 aims to bolster implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The order directs Interior Department offices to decline to apply 2020 changes to NEPA, “in a manner that would change the application or level of NEPA that would have been applied to a proposed action before the …

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Ninth Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Kids Climate Suit—Headed to the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has declined to rehear the high-profile Juliana v. United States case, which has been followed by Environmental Law Monitor here, here, and here. Last January, the Ninth Circuit dismissed the case for lack of Article III standing, and last week, a little over a year after its decision ordering dismissal of the case, the court declined the plaintiffs’ motion for a rehearing.

The Juliana plaintiffs, a group of 21 then-minors, filed suit in …

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Golden State’s Governor Takes Bold Measures in Effort to Combat Climate Change; Issues Ban On Gas-Powered Cars

As an unprecedented amount of wild fires continue to ravage the state of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20 on September 23, 2020, banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks by 2035—an aggressive attempt to combat the effects of climate change.

The order recognizes that bold action is needed to eliminate emissions from transportation, which is the largest source of carbon emissions in the state. The order also notes that zero emissions technologies reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollutants, and …

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Economic Impact of Climate Change—A Dive into the CFTC Report

On September 9, 2020, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a report of the climate-related market risk subcommittee. Throughout the report, the CFTC highlights the significant emphasis that must be placed on climate change, as threats related to such changes may impact U.S. financial institutions and regulators. The report is critical, as it analyzes the future needs for progression and development within financial markets, and the intersection of environmental policies and controls on those markets. By developing this report, the CFTC intended to develop …

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COVID-19’s Side Effect on Global Climate Change

As many individuals read this from the safety of their homes, significant time and energy is focused around the impact on human health, the economy, our families, and so many other areas that have been impacted by COVID-19. However, while the thought of entire cities, trains, airports, and public businesses being shut down indefinitely has evoked fear among many individuals, a byproduct of this crisis is the significant reduction, albeit temporary, in the world’s output of greenhouse gases. According to a recent Forbes article, …

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Trump Administration: Environmental (Budget) Impact Assessment

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year 2021 Budget requests. As it has in previous years, the administration has proposed steep cuts in funding for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would also see their budgets trimmed. Although the current Congress is unlikely to agree to such broad-sweeping cuts, the White House’s proposed budget requests provide a strong indicator of the Trump Administration’s priorities. 

The Cuts:

Overall, …

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Paper or Plastic: Why This Should No Longer be an Option

Across the United States, local governments and state legislatures have focused their efforts on reducing and/or eliminating the use of plastic bags at grocery stores and other businesses. Such a reduction is significant to reducing harmful impacts suffered in oceans, lakes, rivers, forests, and other natural habitats for creatures. Furthermore, the implementation of regulations and bans prohibiting the use and sale of plastic bags focuses on improvements in recycling efforts, which is aimed to increase awareness of the negative side effects of the prevalent use …

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