Under the federal Clean Air Act, new major sources of air pollutants and major modifications to existing sources are required to obtain preconstruction permits, known as PSD permits, even when locating in an area that attains the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (“NAAQS”). EPA’s proposed revisions to the NAAQS for fine particulate matter (“PM2.5”) would make obtaining the required permit far more difficult.
Continue Reading New Challenges to Permitting Under the Clean Air Act

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard and related guidance are widely accepted as leading sources for companies to use in quantifying and reporting their GHG emissions. Companies report GHG emissions for a number of reasons (both legally mandated and voluntary) and in a number of contexts. Accurate accounting and reporting is critical because inaccuracies in emissions reporting can potentially expose the reporting entity to several types of legal liability, as evidenced by the recent proliferation of lawsuits alleging “greenwashing” claims and increasing regulatory scrutiny in this area.Continue Reading Updates to the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard and Guidance: What to Expect

On November 16, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB or the Board) proposed a new Scoping Plan for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Generally, the Scoping Plan is a means by which the Board can assess California’s progress toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2045, and issue new policies and strategy to meet that goal.  The Board is required by law to update the Scoping Plan every five years, and this is the third such update since the California legislature enacted the California Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006.  CARB staff are touting the Scoping Plan not only as reducing GHG emissions, but also as leading to the creation of four million new jobs and the avoidance of $200 billion in pollution-related health expenditures.Continue Reading To Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2045, CARB Proposes 2022 Scoping Plan

On November 16, 2022, the California Air Resources Board released its proposed final “2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality.” The plan lays out a path for California to achieve carbon neutrality and reduce anthropogenic emissions to 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2045. Notably, it highlights the necessity for carbon capture and carbon removal to achieve net negative emissions. California is an ideal testing ground for CCS for several reasons, including a culture of innovation, good geology for storage, and aggressive state targets on emissions.
Continue Reading California’s 2022 Proposed Final Scoping Plan

On April 6, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would build on its existing Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) program by limiting further the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from stationary sources located in 26 states. 87 Fed. Reg. 20,036 (Apr, 6, 2022). The proposal would implement EPA’s 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone of 70 parts per billion by imposing Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) on specified states pursuant to its authority under the “good neighbor” requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) of the Clean Air Act. This provision requires upwind states to prevent sources located within their borders from contributing significantly to nonattainment or interfering with maintenance of the NAAQS in downwind states.
Continue Reading EPA Proposes Groundbreaking New Transport Rule for Ozone Air Pollution

On December 7, 2021, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) held a public workshop to preview potential changes to the groundbreaking California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program, which has served as a model for other low carbon fuel programs across the country.  CARB is accepting written public comments on the concepts presented in the workshop through January 7, 2022.
Continue Reading CARB Previews Future Changes to California Low Carbon Fuel Standard

Building on the Biden Administration’s strategy to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, and as world leaders begin gathering in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal under the Clean Air Act to significantly expand regulation of methane from oil and gas operations in the United States. The proposal—issued in conjunction with measures proposed by at least five other cabinet-level agencies to address GHG emissions—is part of President Biden’s “whole of government” approach to addressing climate change and represents EPA’s most ambitious regulatory effort to date to curb oil and gas sector emissions. EPA estimates compliance costs of $12 billion (present value, 3% discount rate) for existing sources, which it indicates would be offset by an estimated $4.7 billion (present value) through the capture of natural gas pursuant to the fugitive emission requirements in the proposal.
Continue Reading As COP26 Begins in Glasgow, at Home EPA Releases Bold Proposal on Oil and Gas Methane Emissions: Four Elements Worth Knowing

Recent federal court decisions continue to show that Article III standing can be a formidable defense to environmental citizen suits, particularly following the Supreme Court’s decision Spokeo v. Robins, 578 U.S. 330 (2016).
Continue Reading Article III Standing Still Proving to be a Formidable Defense to Environmental Citizen Suits

As we have reported previously in this blog, in March 2021, the Massachusetts Governor signed historic climate legislation designed to effectuate the Commonwealth’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 (Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021 or the “Act”). Some of the more controversial items in the Act were the provisions to incorporate requirements into the state’s building code to advance construction and/or retrofitting of buildings with energy systems designed to reduce emissions. In general, the efforts to facilitate a transition away from fossil-fuel energy systems in buildings continue to prove difficult as existing programs and policies are not necessarily designed to prompt the shift away from traditional energy systems at the pace that some argue is required to meet the aggressive emission targets of the state goals.
Continue Reading State Lawmakers Confront the Challenge of the Energy Transition