Category Archives: Federal

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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

U.S. Department of Justice Revises its Guidance on Evaluating Corporate Compliance Programs

On June 1 the criminal division of the U.S. DOJ revised its guidance to DOJ attorneys on how to evaluate corporate compliance programs. DOJ considers the “adequacy and effectiveness” of a company’s compliance program in deciding whether to charge a company with a crime and what penalties the government may seek, and this guidance provides … 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

Fourth Circuit Rejects Statute of Limitations Challenge to FERC Electricity Market Manipulation Suit

On Feb. 11, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not overstep the statute of limitations in its effort to impose more than $29 million in civil penalties over alleged wholesale electricity market manipulation carried out by Dr. Houlian Chen and other associated financial … Continue Reading

OSHA Is Raising Its Maximum Penalty Amounts, Again!

On Jan. 10, 2020, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced another increase in the maximum civil monetary penalties for violations of federal Occupational Safety and Health standards and regulations. The new monetary penalties will be nearly 2% higher than the current maximum penalty amounts. Effective Jan. 15, 2020, the maximum penalty for … Continue Reading

PFAS Solution IN (or OUT) of the NDAA?

For a refresher on what Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are and what Congressional action may mean for stakeholders, see the Greenberg Traurig E2 Law blog from earlier this year.    As legislative days dwindle, Congress is in a full sprint to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (related blog post), among several other must-pass … Continue Reading

Recent Executive Orders May Affect Regulatory Guidance

In early October, President Donald J. Trump issued two executive orders aimed to further his administration’s stated goal of reducing both executive agencies’ power and burdens on regulated entities. Both executive orders will affect how federal agencies issue informal guidance documents, through which agencies provide interpretation or clarification of regulations they have promulgated. The first, … Continue Reading

FERC Launches Comprehensive PURPA Overhaul

On Sept. 19, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to modernize the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), to address market changes in the energy landscape over recent decades. Comments are due 60 days from publication in the Federal Register. PURPA was enacted in 1978 … 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

Environmental Aspects of the United States-Mexico-Canada Commercial Agreement (USMCA)

The recent United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), claims to modernize and reinforce obligations regarding environmental matters that were previously covered in NAFTA and by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). This GT Alert summarizes some of the most important environmental aspects established by Chapter 24 of the … Continue Reading

EPA Concludes Glyphosate is Not Likely to be Carcinogenic to Humans

EPA concluded in draft risk assessments that a widely used herbicide in the United States that controls weeds and grasses— glyphosate—is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”  Importantly, the assessment also “found no other meaningful risks to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label.”  According to EPA, this finding … Continue Reading

Tax Credits for Wind and Solar Facilities Under the Republican Tax Plan

On Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, the House Republicans unveiled their long-awaited tax plan, which was introduced as a Bill (H.R. 1) entitled the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (the “Act”). While the Act has yet to be passed by the House, and it is likely to change in the legislative process, it contains proposals affecting … Continue Reading

The Margate Dune Project, Cooperative Federalism, and Problems of Litigation Procedure

The current federal administration has expressed a desire to defer largely to states through principles of cooperative federalism.  A recent case involving the dune construction in Margate, New Jersey, offers some insight into the procedural complexities this approach presents for those affected.  Where a state oversees a federally funded project, it is unlikely that one … Continue Reading

Cooperative Federalism and the Shifting State of Environmental Regulation

Among the numerous goals announced thus far by President Donald Trump and his advisors is the significant reduction of administrative regulations that negatively impact states’ rights and make some innovation and corporate business practices more costly and time consuming. The new administration’s message has been that federal agencies are ignoring the boundaries Congress set when … Continue Reading

President Trump Signs Resolutions Eliminating Regulatory Requirements

Last week, President Donald J. Trump signed two congressional resolutions overturning rules that impact the energy extraction and mining industries. On Tuesday, February 14, President Trump signed a resolution eliminating a June 2016 SEC rule that required companies engaged in the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals to disclose payments, including taxes, royalties … Continue Reading

FAST Act Implementation Progress: An Important Tool for Expediting Energy Projects for the Incoming Trump Administration?

FAST Act Implementation Progress: An Important Tool for Expediting Energy Projects for the Incoming Trump Administration? On Dec. 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, also known as the “FAST Act,” which sought to expedite the NEPA environmental review process for major infrastructure projects. One year later, rulemaking and guidance from … Continue Reading

Federal Court Rejects Citizen Suit to Force Stormwater Permitting Program

Last week, a federal district court in Rhode Island dismissed a citizen suit that sought to radically expand Clean Water Act stormwater permitting programs. In Conservation Law Found’n v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Civil Action No. 15-165-ML, the plaintiff attempted to invoke a rarely used provision in the Clean Water to mandate that the U.S. … Continue Reading

Buckle Up for a Wild Ride: Environmental Policy in the Trump Administration

Millions of Americans are coming to grips with the broad social and political ramifications of Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory in last Tuesday’s presidential election. And while the president-elect’s policy pronouncements to date have been short on detail, one thing is clear: those concerned with environmental protection and climate change had better buckle up for … Continue Reading
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