We have written extensively on the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposal to require that public companies disclose climate-related information and other environment, social, and corporate governance (ESG) trends. However, the European Union (EU) is at the vanguard of emerging requirements focused on climate-related information and broader ESG-aligned information.
Last week, EPA announced the results of its enforcement and compliance efforts for the federal government’s 2021 fiscal year (FY2021)—October 2020 through September 2021. Prepared by EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), the report offers the first high-level look at the EPA’s enforcement of environmental laws under the Biden Administration. “Coming off a challenging few years,” said EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for OECA, Larry Starfield, “these 2021 results make clear that rigorous enforcement is back at EPA.” Key metrics in the report appear consistent with that message.
Continue Reading EPA Releases Annual Enforcement Statistics for 2021, Announces “Rigorous Enforcement is Back”
On the heels of the November 2021 Tribal Nations Summit, a flurry of memoranda was signed by the White House and many government agencies. These memoranda seek to further the Biden administration’s promises of consulting with indigenous people and acknowledging their communities’ cultures, customs, sacred sites, and historical knowledge in the contexts of environmental planning, sustainability, and justice, and in ongoing and forthcoming federal decision making and regulatory rulemaking. Center stage in the ongoing discussion is Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK), and the need for including and consulting with Tribal communities on the front end of planning as part of the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Stakeholders from developers and investors to Tribes and regulators, among other parties, should expect increased focus and guidance from the Biden administration in 2022 on these issues. …
Continue Reading 2022 Promises Greater Focus on Tribal Consultation and Incorporation of Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the Permitting Process
This week, two senior U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resource Division (ENRD) officials used their remarks to the American Bar Association’s annual National Environmental Enforcement Conference to convey a clear message: environmental enforcement, and in particular criminal enforcement, is back. Companies and individuals should expect more robust investigations that draw on the expertise and jurisdiction of various federal agencies, while prosecutions will be driven by enhanced DOJ criminal enforcement policies.
Continue Reading DOJ Environment Officials Emphasize Enforcement of Environmental and White Collar Crimes
As a top priority for the Biden Administration and a key component of energy transition plans, offshore wind energy development is front and center and receiving a lot of attention. The Biden Administration has announced a commitment to create 30 gigawatts of electricity via US offshore wind by 2030. Congress provided a boost to offshore wind development late last year via a 30% investment tax credit to projects that start construction before 2026. And just last week, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced plans to spur that development by offering a slate of offshore wind lease sales by 2025 in federal waters off the East, Gulf, and West Coasts.
Continue Reading Five Things You Should Know About Offshore Wind Development Right Now
Last month, EPA announced a planned update of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting program, incorporating several additions. The updates would expand the TRI program by adding new chemicals, facilities, and tools to increase accessibility of data. The goal, according to EPA’s statement, is “to advance Environmental Justice, improve transparency, and increase access to environmental information.”
Continue Reading EPA Emphasizes Environmental Justice Considerations in Toxic Reporting Program Updates
The Biden Administration’s enforcement priorities began to take shape last week, as the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement arm issued a pair of memoranda encouraging the use of certain tools in civil enforcement and settlements and for prioritizing enforcement efforts in environmental justice communities. Lawrence E. Starfield, a senior career EPA official currently serving as Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), issued both memoranda. The memos demonstrate a concrete shift in EPA’s enforcement philosophy—doubling down on Next Generation or “NextGen” compliance tools and Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs), and focusing on environmental justice—under the new administration. The specific ways in which EPA enforcement staff will carry out these policies are not yet known and will develop over time, but it is important for regulated entities to be aware of, and prepared for, EPA’s use of NextGen compliance tools and focus on strengthening enforcement in environmental justice communities.
Continue Reading EPA Enforcement Policies Prioritize Environmental Justice and Embrace “NextGen” Compliance Tools
The topic of infrastructure has been front and center in recent weeks, following the Biden Administration’s unveiling of the American Jobs Plan, a massive investment plan to “Build Back Better” the country’s infrastructure. A critical infrastructure component is water systems—drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater—many of which have deteriorated with age and lack of funding. The renewed focus on infrastructure proposes to funnel massive investment into upgrading the nation’s water systems, under the American Jobs Plan and a slate of bills now before Congress. We take a look at what the new infrastructure developments could mean for water systems.
Continue Reading Water, Water Everywhere: Infrastructure Push Includes Significant Investment for Water Systems
Among the flurry of executive actions signed by President Biden last week on inauguration day was a presidential memorandum aiming to revise the regulatory review process. Titled “Modernizing Regulatory Review,” the memo is directed at the heads of executive departments and agencies and has dual focuses that show the Biden Administration’s commitment to strengthening key tenets of regulatory review while enhancing the focus on equitable and other considerations in the process. Though it garnered less attention than other actions issued simultaneously, this memo signals President Biden’s ambitious regulatory agenda and may have far-reaching effects that pervade the regulatory process. …
Continue Reading Presidential Memorandum Directs Evolution in Regulatory Review
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) released its annual enforcement report detailing the results of the past year’s civil and criminal enforcement and compliance efforts. The report covers the 2020 fiscal year, which ran from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020, and thus provides some key insight into the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on environmental enforcement.
Continue Reading EPA’s FY2020 Annual Enforcement Results Are In