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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 as a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and will focus on CCUS with regard to permitting on private and federal  lands, including the Outer Continental Shelf. Members of the task forces include state and federal officials, stakeholders, and non-governmental organization leaders. Members will be formally appointed once the task forces are chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

*Luke Hale is a Government Affairs Assistant at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

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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
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In February 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) quietly released a Compliance Advisory “What You Need to Know about Producing, Distributing, or Selling Pesticide Devices.” The advisory follows on the heels of similar advisories and provides information to the regulated community about requirements for pesticide devices under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in order to promote compliance. EPA issued this advisory in response to a “significant increase” in the number of pesticide devices being sold or distributed in the US in which EPA has found “substantial non-compliance” with FIFRA requirements. EPA has also experienced a high volume of inquiries from companies and other regulators seeking clarification about pesticide device requirements. The advisory suggests that EPA remains poised to continue taking enforcement actions against companies that import, distribute or sell pesticide devices that do not comply with FIFRA’s requirements.

Continue Reading EPA Releases Another Compliance Advisory on Pesticide Devices Due to “Substantial Non-Compliance” with FIFRA Requirements
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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
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As previously forecast, the winds of change are heading to the home of America’s offshore energy industry. On February 22, 2023, the US Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) announced the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The proposed GOM sale comes in the middle of the comment period on the agency’s proposed changes to the offshore wind regulations.

The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) includes 102,480 acres near Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas near Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres, and the other comprising 96,786 acres (see the below image). BOEM appears to be interested in comments on regulations that would limit leasing near Galveston to a single area or potentially eliminate the sale of leases in either area.

Continue Reading First Offshore Wind Energy Lease Sales in the Gulf of Mexico
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The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently released a long anticipated proposed rule that would implement the procedures for Maine’s 2021 law[1] requiring manufacturers to submit notifications to DEP for products and product components containing intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) sold in the state. Stakeholders will have until May 19, 2023, to provide comments on the proposal.

While Maine’s notification requirements went into effect on January 1, 2023, the proposed rule provides critical details on the applicability and procedures for notifications. Many manufacturers who received extensions from the January 1, 2023 notification deadline will be interested in reviewing the details of this proposal. The proposed rule provides important clarifications about the notification requirements, including:

Continue Reading Maine Department of Environmental Protection Releases Proposed Rule Implementing the Procedures for Maine’s Reporting Requirements and Prohibitions for Products Containing PFAS
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A Tennessee federal district court recently awarded a defendant summary judgment on multiple Clean Water Act claims because they were time-barred under the “concurrent-remedies” doctrine.  Relying on case law from the Fifth Circuit holding that the concurrent-remedies doctrine is “alive, well, and strong” as applied to private plaintiffs, the court held that the plaintiff’s claims were barred in their entirety with respect to all legal and equitable relief based on the expiration of the limitations period applicable to claims for civil penalties. Starlink Logistics Inc. v. ACC, LLC, No. 1:18-CV-00029, 2023 WL 1456179 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 31, 2023).

Continue Reading Concurrent-Remedies Doctrine Bars Clean Water Act Claims
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In January 2023, federal agencies released their “Fall 2022” Regulatory Agendas that provide roadmaps for upcoming and long-term regulatory actions on chemicals that could have significant implications for the regulated community. These agendas make clear that the Biden Administration continues to prioritize regulatory actions to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) across multiple agencies. And the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also continues to implement numerous regulatory initiatives to assess and mitigate chemical risks under the strengthened Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Hunton’s chemical regulatory team has provided analyses of these upcoming regulatory actions:

Continue Reading Announcement: Recent Regulatory Agendas Show Numerous Delayed Awaited Agency Actions on PFAS and TSCA Chemicals
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As we described in a recent post, the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the signature of its proposed Renewable Energy Modernization Rule in mid-January 2023. The proposed rule – which is intended to update and modernize the regulations governing wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) – was published in the Federal Register on January 30, opening a 60-day comment period. 

Continue Reading BOEM Publishes Proposed Renewable Energy Modernization Rule
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A Question Every Retailer Must Be Prepared to Answer

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have taken center stage. The Biden administration’s regulatory agenda plans numerous revisions to environmental regulations to address this broad class of pervasive substances. While the US Environmental Protection Agency grapples with implementing these initiatives, states are aggressively forging ahead with their own plans. Laws targeting PFAS in various products have taken effect and will continue to take effect in many states, representing a striking expansion from typical state regulations addressing environmental PFAS contamination from firefighting foam and other sources.

Continue Reading Do the Products You Sell Contain PFAS?