On June 11, 2020, the California Assembly passed the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, Assembly Bill (A.B.) 2762 , by a bipartisan vote of 54-0. If enacted by the Senate, the law would be the first in the United States to ban twelve ingredients, including mercury and formaldehyde, from beauty and personal care products sold in California due to toxicity concerns.
Recent press reports note that air quality has improved worldwide and in the United States during the ongoing pandemic1. Shortly prior to the pandemic, though, stories lamented declining American air quality2. What’s really going on? Is the news good or bad?
On May 30, 2020, for the first time in nine years, a manned spacecraft launched from American soil and ultimately docked at the International Space Station, just under a day later. This launch, which marks a significant step in the development of reusable rocket technology, will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of astronauts, astrophysicists, engineers, and others who are interested in sustainable space exploration. It has been reported that spacecraft launches of this nature burn approximately 400 metric tons of kerosene and leave behind a trail of carbon dioxide (“CO2”) exceeding two centuries worth of CO2 emissions from those of an average car.
On June 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, signed a final rule seeking to increase predictability for applicants by clarifying the regulations that govern the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 water quality certification process.
The Treasury Department and IRS have issued long-awaited Proposed Regulations regarding the tax credit for carbon capture and sequestration under Section 45Q of the Code1 (the “section 45Q credit”).
Generally, the amount of the section 45Q credit and the party that is eligible to claim the credit depend on whether the taxpayer captures qualified carbon oxide using carbon capture equipment originally placed in service at a qualified facility before February 9, 2018 (“Old 45Q Facility”), or on or after February 9, 2018 (“New 45Q Facility”), and whether the taxpayer disposes of the qualified carbon oxide in geological storage (“sequestration”), uses it as a tertiary injectant in a qualified enhanced oil or natural gas recovery project (“EOR”), or utilizes the carbon oxide in certain specified ways (“utilization”). The effective date of the amendments to the Code extending and expanding the section 45Q credit is February 9, 2018 (the “Credit Effective Date”). The Credit Effective Date appears throughout the Proposed Regulations to distinguish between Old 45Q Facilities and New 45Q Facilities and establishing the effective date for certain provisions.
On May 21, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued Opinion No. 569-A1 – the latest step in the recent evolution of FERC’s policies governing the determination of public utilities’ base return on equity (“ROE”) under Section 206 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”). In recent years, FERC has been revising its long-standing policies when addressing complaints challenging the base ROEs of transmission-owning, FERC-jurisdictional public utilities in the ISO New England, Inc. (“ISO-NE”) and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (“MISO”) regions. In particular, FERC has modified its policies regarding the use of various models to estimate ROE to account for various changes in capital market conditions since the 2008-09 recession.
Agency guidance will be subject to certain standards and procedures under a proposed rule published by EPA in the Federal Register on May 22, 2020. According to EPA, the proposed rule is “intended to increase the transparency of EPA’s guidance practices and improve the process used to manage EPA guidance documents.” EPA will accept written comments on the proposed rule until June 22, 2020.
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued its final report addressing the input received by various stakeholders relating to the management of wastewater from the oil and gas industry. The report entitled Summary of Input on Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management Practices Under the Clean Water Act is the culmination of a stakeholder engagement process that began in 2018 (“Final Report”) . Continue Reading EPA Issues Final Report on Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management
On May 19, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) intended to combat the unprecedented effect COVID-19 has had on the American economy, by directing agencies to remove or ease regulatory barriers to spur economic growth. In general, the EO directs agencies to ease regulatory and enforcement burdens that may inhibit economic recovery, provide guidance on what the law requires, recognize the efforts of regulated industries to comply with the law, and ensure fairness in administrative enforcement and adjudication. Perhaps most notably, the EO is written broadly enough that agencies may look beyond COVID-19-related impacts when considering how to implement the EO.
The largest market for CO2 captured from industrial sources through carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) is enhanced oil recovery (EOR), using the CO2 to produce oil. Captured CO2 can be used for cement, algae production, and other uses, but EOR has vast potential. Moreover, it has a nearly 50-year track record in the US, where it was pioneered. Carbon dioxide injected into oil formations becomes permanently stored as part of the process.