On May 17, 2023, the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment to federal government defendants and intervenor Vineyard Wind in the first of four lawsuits pending in that court challenging the development of Vineyard Wind, a 62-turbine offshore wind project being built off the coast of Massachusetts.
Continue Reading Federal Judge Rules for Vineyard Wind in First of Four Pending Actions

On April 6, 2023, President Biden issued Executive Order 14094, Modernizing Regulatory Review. This Executive Order (EO) makes several important changes to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) regulatory review process for federal agency regulations. The EO significantly affects which regulations qualify for interagency review, modifies the OMB gatekeeping function by which meetings are granted on proposed rules, and requires the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) to amend policies underlying how the federal government conducts cost-benefit analysis. In addition, OIRA has released a suite of new draft guidance documents that serve to implement the EO that, if finalized, will impact the review process for regulations. These guidance documents are open for comment as described below.

Continue Reading Biden Administration Changes White House Regulatory Review

President Biden signed a new Executive Order (E.O.) to advance environmental justice (EJ) late last week, just in time for Earth Day. E.O. 14096, Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, aims to carry out its title through a bevy of actions, including requiring agencies to create EJ strategic plans, directing research on EJ issues, expanding notifications for toxic chemical releases, and increasing coordination on EJ by establishing a new EJ Interagency Council and White House Office of Environmental Justice. The new E.O. builds on the Biden Administration’s “whole-of-government” approach to EJ, making clear that the obligation to consider and address EJ applies across federal agencies. The E.O.’s directives are likely to guide federal agency permitting, funding grants, and other authorizations for projects or activities that may have implications for EJ communities. On the same day as the E.O. was signed, the administration also announced a handful of other steps to further its EJ priorities.

Continue Reading New Environmental Justice Executive Order Includes Additional Requirements and Accountability Measures for Federal Agency Environmental Justice Efforts

President Biden issued his second veto late last week. The President’s second veto protects a U.S. EPA rule that went into effect on March 20, 2023. That rule redefines “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), and at a high conceptual level, returns the Agency’s interpretation of WOTUS to that of the Obama administration, an interpretation that was revoked and replaced by the Trump administration.

This matter has been hotly contested in the federal courts. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to issue a ruling within the next several weeks on Sackett v. EPA, a decision which could substantially revise and narrow the Agency’s definition of “waters of the United States.” The Court’s decision here could send the Biden administration’s revised definition of WOTUS back to EPA for changes needed in-line with the Court’s decision, if and when issued.

Continue Reading President Biden’s Second Veto Is on Congress’ Disapproval of EPA’s Revised Definition of WOTUS

On March 21, 2023, the US Department of Energy (DOE) released three reports as part of its ““Pathways to Commercial Liftoff,” articulating its vision on how the private sector and policymakers can reach full-scale commercialization for advanced nuclear, clean hydrogen, and long-duration energy storage.
Continue Reading DOE Identifies Pathways for the Large-Scale Commercialization of Clean Energy Technologies

Last Friday, March 24, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the rosters for two task forces charged with providing input for the development of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCUS) programs. The task forces are a requirement of the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act, passed in 2020

President Biden issued his first veto today. Biden’s veto returns to Congress a joint resolution that attempts to nullify a recent rule from the Department of Labor regarding consideration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors when investing in retirement accounts. This rule went into effect on January 30, 2023, and allows for retirement plan fiduciaries to consider ESG factors when selecting investments and exercising shareholder rights. Some have said ESG investing is controversial because it allows for retirement plan fiduciaries to consider factors such as climate change and equity instead of focusing solely on maximizing financial returns; while others have argued that past measures prohibiting the consideration of ESG factors are equally problematic.

Continue Reading President Biden’s First Veto is on Congress’ Disapproval of ESG Investing Rule

On February 23, 2023, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published two Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) titled Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilot Projects and Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program.  

Both programs provide incentives for the power and industrial sectors to develop carbon capture technologies. Together they will award more than $2.5 billion in funding to eligible projects at new and existing industrial facilities. As carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) continues to develop and grow, this funding presents opportunity for a broad range of stakeholders that operate in various industrial sectors.

Continue Reading DOE Issues FOA for Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilots and Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program

On January 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Energy Management published its proposed Renewable Energy Modernization Rule – which is intended to update and modernize the regulations governing wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) – in the Federal Register, opening a 60-day comment period.
Continue Reading BOEM Publishes Proposed Renewable Energy Modernization Rule