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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Presidential Environmental Policy Rigidly Defined by Doubt and Uncertainty

Following what seemed like an interminable and chaotic presidential election cycle, November 3, 2020, is finally upon us, and the country will soon know who our next president will be. Regardless of whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden takes the oath of office come January, what is not certain is how each of their respective policy objectives would play out during the next presidential term―particularly with regard to environmental regulations and oversight. Although one might assume the vast gulf between the two candidates on environmental …

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Energy Regulators Dial Back Grid Reliability Standards Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Last week the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jointly announced the suspension of certain rules through July 31, 2020, in an effort to allow utility operators to “focus their resources on keeping people safe and the lights on during this unprecedented public health emergency.”[1]  NERC, a nonprofit corporation devoted to reducing risks to the reliability and security of the electrical grid across North America, develops and enforces the Reliability Standards, which are designed to ensure …

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Pennsylvania Appellate Court Splits the Difference on Oil & Gas Regulations

As hydraulic fracturing continues to be a hot topic among Pennsylvania’s Appellate Courts, the Commonwealth Court (PA’s intermediary appellate division), recently released an opinion addressing a multitude of state-level regulations concerning oil and gas operations, helping to define the rules by which drillers must abide within the state.

At issue in Marcellus Shale Coalition v. Department of Environmental Protection of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, were several provisions within Chapter 78(a) of the Pennsylvania Code, which governs unconventional oil and gas well operations. Roughly three years …

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“PFAS Action Act of 2019” Proposed to Designate PFAS as CERCLA Hazardous Substances as More States Move To Regulate Locally

This month, a trio of bi-partisan legislators from Michigan introduced a bill in the United States House of Representatives that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to classify all PFAS chemicals under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund staute. The bill, introduced by Reps. Dan Kildee (D), Fred Upton (R), and Debbie Dingell (D) and referred to as the “PFAS Action Act of 2019,” would require such designation by the EPA no later than …

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What’s at Stake? Two Different Approaches to Climate Change – Part II The NHTSA Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Rule Draft Environmental Impact Statement

As introduced in Part I of this two part posting, two recently released documents – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, Global Warming of 1.5°C Summary for Policymakers (IPCC Summary), issued on October 8, 2018, and the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in July 2018 – provide a stark contrast in how to respond to the threat posed by climate change.

The …

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EPA’s Slow March Towards Federal Regulation of PFAS

In May, we reported on developments involving a case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania involving water contamination and exposure to per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS is a family of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA (and many others). The chemicals are commonly found in many consumer products, including stick-proof food packaging, waterproof clothing, and non-stick cookware. The plaintiffs in the PA case alleged that aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) used for firefighting drills at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base …

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The Push for Repeal of Environmental Regulations: One Year into the Trump Administration, Where Do We Stand?

As we move a little more than a year into the Trump Administration, it probably is time to take a look at where we are in regards to the administration’s publicly stated goal of repealing environmental regulations, many of which are related to climate change. In that context, the New York Times, National Geographic Society, Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, and Harvard University’s Environmental Law Program, are great sources, providing useful tracking information and updates regarding proposed …

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Massachusetts Steps Up its Game on Climate Regulation

Last Friday, August 11, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection published expansive new regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The regulations will affect a broad range of stakeholders within the state, including new requirements for power generators, electric utilities, natural gas distributors, government, and the transportation sector.

The new regulations are the latest step in an arduous process the state has undertaken to combat climate change. In 2008, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act requiring that, by …

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The Trump Administration’s Unified Agenda: An Exercise in Deregulation

A few weeks ago, we outlined the Trump administration’s rollback of the Clean Water Rule — an Obama era proposal that expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This past week saw the administration continue on that theme, deregulating the Obama era agenda. On Thursday, July 20, 2017, the administration released its semi-annual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions — a report on the actions that administrative agencies plan to issue in the near and long term …

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