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On November 28, 2022, the Council of the European Union (EU) formally adopted the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), following the European Parliament’s formal adoption of the directive earlier last month. The CSRD is a broad environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting framework that will impose uniform, mandatory reporting requirements on many companies with European operations, including companies not based in Europe.

Continue Reading European Union Adopts Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive With Impacts Beyond Europe
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Carbon Capture and Sequestration Will Be Necessary to Meet State Climate Targets

On November 16, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its proposed final “2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality” (Scoping Plan). The proposed final Scoping Plan—California’s fourth roadmap for mitigating climate change—lays out a path for California to achieve carbon neutrality and reduce anthropogenic emissions to 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2045.

Continue Reading California’s 2022 Proposed Final Scoping Plan
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On 6 September, the US EPA released its proposed rule to add perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) to the list of hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund.

If finalized, these hazardous substance designations could have a significant impact on many industries, from creating new reporting obligations to increased compliance, enforcement and litigation risks related to site cleanup.

Click here to read the full article, published in Chemical Watch.

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In Executive Order 14008 President Biden paused oil and gas lease sales on public lands and offshore waters. Thereafter, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) canceled Lease Sales 258 (in Alaska’s Cook Inlet) and 259 (in the Gulf of Mexico). Congress, however, required BOEM to hold both lease sales in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Below, we briefly summarize recent developments for each lease sale and subsequent opportunities available to upstream oil and gas companies.

Continue Reading BOEM Resumes OCS Lease Sales 258 and 259
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The Biden-Harris administration is taking new steps to put some teeth into its emphasis on addressing environmental justice (EJ). Two recent developments are worth noting given the potential impact on projects and communities. 

One, EPA announced on September 24, 2022 that it is launching its new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR or EJ Office). Establishing the EJ Office on par with other key EPA offices, such as the Office of Air and Radiation, the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, and the Office of Land and Environmental Management, signals the emphasis that the Biden-Harris administration is placing on EJ.

Two, in August 2022, EPA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) issued a guidance document entitled Interim Environmental Justice and Civil Rights in Permitting Frequently Asked Questions (EJ FAQs) that outlines EPA’s current views as to how federal, state, and local permitting agencies can meet the requirements of civil rights laws when they are administering environmental permitting requirements. The FAQs document signals greater focus on environmental justice in permitting, even noting that denial of permits based on environmental justice or civil rights concerns may be appropriate in some cases.

Continue Reading Environmental Justice in Focus: Why EPA’s New EJ Office and EJ FAQs Guidance Are Important
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On October 18, 2022, the Department of the Interior announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an offshore wind energy lease sale on December 6, 2022, for areas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off central and northern California.

This will be the first-ever offshore wind lease sale on America’s west coast and the first-ever U.S. sale to support potential commercial-scale floating offshore wind energy development. Auction details, lease terms, and qualified bidding companies that can participate in the auction will be outlined in a Final Sale Notice (FSN) to be published in the Federal Register later this week.

Continue Reading First Offshore Wind Energy Lease Sale in the Pacific Creates Opportunity for Developers
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The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is inviting informal public comment on the draft TCEQ Regulatory Guidance Document for Evaluation of Regionalization for Potential New Wastewater Systems (“Draft Regionalization Guidance”). Under Section 26.081 of the Texas Water Code, TCEQ is required to implement a policy to “encourage and promote the development and use of regional and area-wide waste collection, treatment and disposal systems to serve the waste disposal needs of the citizens of the state and to prevent pollution and maintain and enhance the quality of the water in the state.”

Continue Reading TCEQ Requests Public Input on Draft Wastewater Regionalization Guidance
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On September 30, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS or Service) published proposed rule that would revise the regulations governing the issuance of eagle take permits (ETPs) under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.  87 Fed. Reg. 59,598 (September 30, 2022). In the preamble to the proposed rule, the Service acknowledges that its current ETP regulatory process, first established in 2009 and revised in 2016, is not working as intended.  In particular, the Service notes that “[w]hile there are more than 1,000 wind-energy projects on the landscape, the Service has received fewer than 100 applications from those projects and has currently issued only 26 permits since the promulgation of the 2016 Eagle Rule.”  87 Fed. Reg. at 59,602.

Continue Reading USFWS Tries Again to Make Eagle Take Permitting Process Work for Stakeholders and Wildlife
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Beginning with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1983, each newly inaugurated president from a different political party than his predecessor has ordered the withdrawal from the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) of all pending regulations that have not yet been published.  86 Fed. Reg. 7425 (Jan. 28, 2021) (Biden); 82 Fed. Reg. 8346 (Jan. 24, 2017) (Trump); 74 Fed. Reg. 4435 (Jan. 26, 2009) (Obama); 66 Fed. Reg. 7702 (Jan. 24, 2001) (Bush); 58 Fed. Reg. 6074) (Jan. 25, 1993) (Clinton); 46 Fed. Reg. 11,227 (Feb. 16, 1981) (Reagan). The incoming presidents have used this approach to advance their policies as opposed to being constrained by the policies of their predecessors reflected in such “midnight rules.” The D.C. Circuit, in Humane Society v. U.S. Dept. of Agric., No. 20-5291 (D.C. Cir. July 22, 2022), has limited the rules that can be withdrawn under this long-standing approach. 

Continue Reading Humane Society v. U.S. Department of Agriculture: Has the D.C. Circuit Done More Than Protect Midnight Rules?
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On August 26, 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication copy of its much-anticipated proposed rule adding perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) to the list of “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund). EPA asserts that this regulatory escalation of PFOA and PFOS will facilitate faster cleanup of contaminated sites and reduce exposures to these “forever chemicals.” If finalized, these hazardous substances designations will have significant and immediate impacts on many industries, from creating new reporting obligations to increased compliance, enforcement, and litigation risks related to site cleanup. EPA’s efforts involving PFOA and PFOS fall within the broader, whole-of-agency approach to addressing PFAS first announced in its PFAS Strategic Roadmap and represent its first ever exercise of its authority under CERCLA section 102(a) to designate a hazardous substance.

Continue Reading Liability Looms Large as EPA Seeks Naming Certain PFAS as CERCLA Hazardous Substances