Category Archives: Environment

Subscribe to Environment RSS Feed

New DOJ Guidance Seeks to Limit Federal Enforcement under the Clean Water Act

On July 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a policy memorandum designed to stay the federal government’s hand in enforcing the Clean Water Act where states have initiated a civil judicial penalty proceeding under analogous state laws on the same core of operative facts. The policy, “Civil Enforcement Discretion in Certain Clean … Continue Reading

A Tale of Two Environmental Policies: President Trump Announces NEPA Reform, as Former Vice President Biden Vows to Roll Back Reforms If Elected

On July 15, 2020, President Trump’s administration finalized a significant overhaul of the regulations governing the administration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In January 2020, when the regulatory overhaul was announced, we observed that rolling back 50 years of precedent in an administrative action could trigger judicial challenges to the rule and result … Continue Reading

DOJ’s Attack on ‘Supplemental Environmental Projects’ Extends to Citizen Plaintiffs

The Department of Justice, in the last year, has altered its guidance related to supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), first prohibiting their use in settlements with state and local governments, then extending that prohibition to settlements with private parties. The Department of Justice is now targeting settlements that include similar projects agreed to by two private … Continue Reading

Supreme Court: Pollutants Reaching Navigable Waters Through Groundwater May Require Permit Under Clean Water Act

Rejecting the Trump administration’s novel 2019 interpretation that the Clean Water Act never requires permits for pollutant discharges to groundwater, the United States Supreme Court handed down, on April 23, its eagerly awaited decision in County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. The 6-3 majority held that Section 301 of the Clean … Continue Reading

EPA Commences Public Comment on Recycled-Content Product List – It May be More Relevant Than You Think

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as large and small businesses alike struggle to stay afloat while acting responsibly to protect public health, sustainability may not be top-of-mind. But the development and sale of sustainable products may provide struggling businesses with new sources of revenue and competitive advantage in the days ahead. The federal government promotes recycling … Continue Reading

Mexico’s SENER and SEMARNAT Suspend Activity Until April 20

This past week, Mexico’s Ministry of Energy (SENER) and Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) published official communications to suspend activity until April 20. These decisions impact terms, deadlines, promotions, and administrative procedures. To learn more about how this decision applies, please refer to my Alerts: Mexico’s Ministry of Energy Suspends Terms and Deadlines … Continue Reading

Meeting Environmental Compliance and Cleanup Requirements During the Pandemic

In addition to causing infection and illness, the COVID-19 pandemic is creating challenges for organizations contending with employee quarantines and isolation, supply chain and logistics disruptions, and other operational changes. While environmental compliance may not be top-of-mind right now for most Americans, it still is a critical consideration for organizations with environmental compliance or cleanup … Continue Reading

Summary of Guidance on Section 45Q Carbon Tax Credits Under 2020 Notice and Revenue Procedure

On Feb. 19, 2020, the IRS released Notice 2020-12 and Revenue Procedure 2020-12 (together, the “Carbon Guidance”) which provide highly anticipated clarity on the Internal Revenue Code Section 45Q credit for carbon oxide sequestration. The Carbon Guidance provides details on determining when construction has begun on an eligible project, and valid partnership allocations (including a permissible partnership flip structure), … Continue Reading

PFAS Update: EPA Begins Process of Developing Drinking Water Limits for PFOS and PFOA

On Feb. 20, 2020, roughly one year after announcing its comprehensive per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) action plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a preliminary regulatory determination under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for the two most-studied of the chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This is the initial step in the process of … Continue Reading

UK Approach to EU Negotiations Post-Brexit: Implications for Environmental Standards

On 27 February 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) government published an outline of its intended approach to the forthcoming negotiations with the European Union (EU) over the future EU/UK relationship once the Brexit transition period ends. As set out in our previous GT Alert, “UK to Formally Leave EU on Friday 31 January 2020”, while … Continue Reading

IRS Takes First Steps to Implement Carbon Capture Tax Credit

On Feb. 19, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service released partial guidance on the implementation of section 45Q tax credits related to the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide. The section 45Q tax credit was updated on Feb. 9, 2018, as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act (Pub. L. 115-123) to increase the amount of the … Continue Reading

New York’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act Sends Positive Signals to Renewable Energy Developers, and Revamps Renewable Siting

In January 2020, in his annual budget address, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a complete overhaul of renewable energy siting. In his 30-day amendments to the executive budget, he proposed the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act (the “Act”). The proposal would apply to large and mid-sized renewable projects, energy storage, … Continue Reading

The Dutch Supreme Court Obliges the Dutch Government to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On 20 December 2019 the Dutch Supreme Court delivered its judgment in the case of Urgenda against the Dutch State. In 2013, the NGO Urgenda started a civil law procedure against the Dutch State for “knowingly exposing its own citizens to danger” by not taking sufficient measures to prevent climate change and therefore not preventing … Continue Reading

Congress Takes Initial Steps to Address PFAS in the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

On Dec. 11, the House of Representatives passed S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The Senate followed suit on Dec. 17, bringing an end to protracted negotiations on this annual must-pass legislation. In one of their final acts, conferees agreed to provisions addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Two major provisions … Continue Reading

The Revised Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration and Their Impact on UK Environmental Standards

An important difference between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement and former Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is that provisions relating to environmental protections have been removed and are now to be found in the amended Political Declaration. While the Withdrawal Agreement, once ratified, would be a legally binding treaty between the UK … Continue Reading

Consulting With Native American Tribes on Energy and Infrastructure Development: Strategies for Reducing Project Risk

“Tribal consultation” refers to the federal government’s legal obligation to consult with Native American tribes on energy and infrastructure projects, such as highways and railroads, pipelines, telecommunications towers and systems, and electrical transmission lines. Whenever a given project requires some sort of federal approval – a water-crossing permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, … Continue Reading

In Minnesota, More Little Red Corvettes May Soon be Electric

On Sept. 25, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz asked the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to initiate the process to establish a Clean Cars Minnesota Rule, which would set both a low-emission vehicle (LEV) standard and a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard. Next month, the MPCA will begin its rulemaking process, with a goal of adopting a … Continue Reading

Government Repeals Obama-Era Waters of the U.S. Rule: Major Supreme Court Decision to Come, but ‘Regulatory Patchwork’ Remains

On Sept. 12, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army followed through on an early Trump administration promise to repeal a 2015 jurisdictional rule defining the scope of the government’s authority under the Clean Water Act. See Definition of “Waters of the United States”—Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules (pre-publication version). Dubbed … Continue Reading

Latin America Renewable Energy: Calls for Public Bids

Update: The Ministry of Mines and Energy of Colombia published on September 18 a new Resolution (number 4-0725) in connection with the call for electricity generation projects through renewable energy sources (Resolution 4-0591). This new resolution establishes an additional automatic award mechanism for the long-term energy agreements for the referred projects. The new award mechanism will … Continue Reading

Maryland Court of Appeals Limits Bases for Challenging CWA Permits under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

A recent state appellate court decision sharply limited the bases on which Clean Water Act permittees may challenge permitting requirements imposed to comply with a federal Chesapeake Bay “Total Maximum Daily Load” (“TMDL”), often described as a watershed-wide “pollution diet.” The decision directly impacts municipalities with separate stormwater sewer (“MS4”) permits, as well as certain … Continue Reading

EPA Seeks Public Comment on Pesticide Applications for Hemp

The legalization of industrial hemp production in the 2018 Farm Bill is a likely boon for farmers grappling with the changing agricultural landscape. Given the strong economic forecasts for hemp production, pesticide registrants are intensifying their interest in gaining approvals for use of their products on hemp. Hemp farmers are also pressing for expanded crop … Continue Reading

An uncertain path to a cleaner future: Zero carbon electricity legislation in New York and California

With the recent passage of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which calls for a carbon free electricity market by 2040, New York became the sixth state to pass legislation calling for a carbon free electricity market. Just one year earlier, California passed similar legislation, SB100, adopting a state policy to achieve a zero-carbon … Continue Reading

EPA Expands RCRA Hazardous Waste Restrictions to a Broader Range of ‘Pharmaceuticals’ Including Dietary Supplements

If you are currently disposing of pharmaceuticals, including dietary supplements, into the dumpster or down the drain, you may want to reconsider that practice. New regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) impact how health care facilities must dispose of unused pharmaceuticals. The new regulations treat … Continue Reading
LexBlog