Key Corporate Climate Accountability Bill Fails to Pass in California

Despite California’s most recent, two-year legislative session ending on September 1 with a flurry of new bills aimed at fighting global warming getting passed, one noticeable bill failed to pass on the last day. Senator Scott Wiener’s S.B. 260, i.e., California’s Climate Corporate Accountability Act, died on the legislative floor by one vote. Co-authored by Senator Henry Stern, S.B. 260 would have been the nation’s first-ever mandatory requirement for large corporations to disclose their greenhouse emissions.

Had it been enacted, California’s legislation would have set …

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Kids File Climate-Change Suit Against Their Home State, Alleging Betrayal 

Faced with back-to-back years of unprecedented flooding, wildfires, and soaring temperatures, sixteen teens and children from Montana, ages 2-18, are suing their home state in what may precipitate the next wave of climate-change litigation. 

With favorable rulings from a state judge and the Montana Supreme Court, the children’s lawsuit is on track to become the first such climate lawsuit to go to trial in the United States. It alleges that Montana, by fostering fossil fuels as its primary energy resource, is contributing to a deteriorating …

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What would the declaration of a “national climate emergency” mean for businesses?

President Biden is reportedly contemplating the declaration of a “national climate emergency” (NCE).  According to his advisors, all options are on the table for the administration as it seeks to meet its ambitious climate goals.  But what are these options, and what practical effect would they have?

The most probable economic consequence of an NCE would be a further spike in energy prices.  An NCE would give President Biden access to several tools allowing him to restrict the trade, development, or extraction of fossil fuels.  …

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New Report Offers Solutions for Low-Income Californians to Switch to EVs

The Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment (CLEE) at Berkeley Law last month­, in conjunction with the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA Law, ­issued Driving Equity, a new reportaimed at presenting important policy solutions to make California’s switch to electric vehicles more realistic for lower income citizens. Topping their list of priorities was offering more rebates and incentives for lower-income car owners, enhancing funding and groundwork for charging stations, and offering financial assistance to greater outreach for community-based …

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State tort damages loom for companies plausibly connected to climate change

In April, various California communities moved one step closer to holding energy companies liable for damage to public infrastructure allegedly caused by climate change.  The communities claimed this damage occurred due to the companies’ use of and advocacy for fossil fuels despite the companies’ understanding of those fuels’ negative environmental impacts.

Local governments argue that compensation of climate-related infrastructure damage, for which they bear the cost, is a parochial concern belonging in state court. In County of San Mateo v. Chevron, the Ninth Circuit—like …

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Companies Face State Court Claims for Climate Damage After Circuit Courts Hold That Such Claims Are Not “Inherently Federal”

Federal appeals courts in Maryland and Colorado have sent lawsuits seeking to hold energy companies responsible for climate change back to state court even after the U.S. Supreme Court directed the Fourth Circuit to take a second look in the Maryland case.

In Maryland, the City of Baltimore seeks millions of dollars in damages for, among other things, energy companies’ alleged violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act that affected climate change. In Colorado, the City of Boulder and a couple of Colorado counties also …

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What’s Required Under the SEC’s Proposed Climate-Related Disclosure Act

On Monday, March 21, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a new rule aimed at requiring public companies to disclose extensive climate-related data to not only the federal government, but also their shareholders. More specifically, the proposed rule, entitled The Enhancements and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors, would amend the SEC’s rules under the Securities Act of 1933 and Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The proposed rule aims to provide investors a better understanding of the risks that climate change poses to companies.

Chair …

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The SEC Warns Registrants – ESG is No Longer a Slogan on the Gym Wall

If ESG were merely a slogan on the proverbial gym wall, companies are about to be held accountable for their public promises of climate change and sustainability focused ambitions.  Last month the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed significant rule changes to the U.S. Securities Act of 1933 and SEC Act of 1934.  If enacted, the proposed amendment, formally known as The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors, will require the full disclosure of climate change risks, by domestic and foreign registrants alike, …

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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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