On August 27, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) issued a White Paper proposing to disclose the names of entities that violate Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards, while continuing to withhold other details of those violations. This significant change in policy reflects broader issues in FERC’s handling of security information. Continue Reading FERC’s CIP Information Proposal: Is it Time to Tip the Scale Toward Security?

Going green has gone mainstream. Perhaps nowhere is this more pronounced than in the automotive industry. J.P. Morgan estimates that, by 2030, electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids will make up 59 percent of the global market share, up from about 1 percent in 2015. What may be the most important feature of the EV revolution is its power source: lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. They are not new; they have been powering cell phones and computers for years. What is new is their large-scale use to power automobiles (and, some day, trucks and buses) and significantly reduce emissions. As our colleagues Samuel L. Brown and Lauren A. Bachtel note in an article to be published in the ABA’s Natural Resource & Environment magazine, components of Li-ion batteries include metals (e.g., lithium, cobalt, nickel) that are costly to extract and process. As demand for them increases, pressure to re-use or recycle batteries will increase. Continue Reading A Green Afterlife for EV Li-ion Batteries

Congress is exploring regulatory action for PFAS as states begin to implement their own regulations for the chemicals. Hunton Andrews Kurth attorneys, Dan Grucza and Chuck Knauss outline approaches companies can take while operating in this changing legal landscape.
Continue Reading VIDEO Inside Look: PFAS Regulatory Action

Energy industry: is your insurance sufficient to handle a major cyber event? Larry Bracken, Mike Levine and I, Andrea DeField, address this question and more in our recent article for Electric Light & Power, found here.  In the article, we identify three major gaps in cyber insurance that we routinely see when analyzing coverage for energy industry clients. The first major gap is coverage for bodily injury or property damage caused by a cyber event. Most cyber insurance policies exclude coverage for both bodily injury and property damage, even if caused by a cyber event. Meanwhile, many commercial general liability insurance policies now exclude cyber-related risks, thus creating a gap in coverage for these losses. The second gap we identify is coverage for fines and penalties, including those issued under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Even where cyber insurance policies expressly purport to cover fines and penalties, it is unclear if these may be deemed uninsurable as a matter of public policy in certain jurisdictions. Finally, we identify a gap in coverage for business income losses when the insured’s network, or that of a vendor on which they rely, goes down. That coverage is a key component of a robust cyber program, but one that is typically only offered for an additional premium.

Our article was the first in a series of three on managing cyber risks to the energy industry and gaps in insurance coverage that may adversely affect the energy industry, and others, when responding to a major cyber event.

Last December, we reported that President Trump signed into law the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill). Since then, federal and state governments have rushed to implement the new law and state analogs in time for the 2020 growing season. As we have seen with the development of complex new regulatory schemes in other industries, regulatory uncertainty and opportunities abound. Continue Reading The Feds and States Move the Ball on Hemp Regulations

In my October 16, 2018, post, I observed that a panel of the Fifth Circuit put another nail, though not the final nail, in the coffin of NSR enforcement for projects completed a long time (some of them, decades) before EPA or other plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging NSR violations. In United States v. Luminant, No. 17-10235 (5th Cir. Oct. 1, 2018), the panel unanimously ruled that the statute of limitations bars civil penalties for NSR violations that allegedly occurred more than five years before the filing of the complaint. But over a strong dissent by Judge Elrod, a 2-1 majority ruled that while injunctive relief is also barred in those circumstances for non-government plaintiffs (Sierra Club, in this case), injunctive relief is still “available” when the government is seeking to enforce the Clean Air Act. Continue Reading Federal Government Drops NSR Enforcement Case Against Luminant, Avoiding Another Nail in the Coffin of NSR Enforcement for Ancient Projects

California Prop 65 is designed to reduce exposures to chemicals that are known to cause cancer and reproductive harm, but it has become a flash point in California environmental law. Hunton Andrews Kurth partners Malcolm Weiss and Shannon Broome outline the regulations and the impacts on businesses with products in California. Continue Reading VIDEO Inside Look: California Prop 65

As we have discussed previously, the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) addresses what is often termed “interstate transport.” That is the phenomenon in which emissions from factories, power plants, motor vehicles and many other emission sources are transported by prevailing winds across state lines, sometimes over great distances. The CAA looks to states, first and foremost, to include control measures in implementation plans to reduce emissions that travel into other states. The statutory objective is to prohibit “significant contributions” by upwind states to violations of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) in downwind states. Although states have primary responsibility, EPA sometimes has invoked its CAA authority to establish federally enforceable requirements to address significant contributions when it concludes upwind states have not taken sufficient steps. In 2016, EPA adopted its most recent set of regulatory interstate transport controls in a rulemaking action called the “Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Update”—or the “CSAPR Update” for short. On September 13, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued a decision in closely-watched litigation involving challenges to the CSAPR Update. (The case is Wisconsin v. EPA, No. 16-1406.) While upholding this EPA regulation in most respects, the court ruled in favor of a challenge that concerns the timing of upwind-state emission controls. Continue Reading The DC Circuit Addresses EPA’s Latest Regulation on “Interstate Transport” Under the Clean Air Act

Which Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule applies to my project? For four years, that has been a recurring question with a complicated, ever-changing answer. The 2015 WOTUS Rule promulgated by the Obama administration was challenged almost immediately, and, because of various district court injunctions, only 22 states are operating under the 2015 WOTUS Rule, while 27 states are subject to the pre-2015 Rule regime; the status of the rule in New Mexico is unclear. Yesterday, EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers (together, the Agencies) signed a pre-publication version of the highly anticipated repeal of the 2015 WOTUS Rule, which will place the entire country under the pre-2015 Rule regime while the Trump administration works to complete its replacement WOTUS definition. Continue Reading Long-Awaited Repeal Rule Ends Patchwork of WOTUS Implementation

The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD or the District) Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM) made history as California’s first emissions cap-and-trade program. But the District’s decision to sunset the program has resulted in significant uncertainty surrounding RECLAIM’s transition for local communities and industry alike.

Widely acclaimed at its 1993 inception, the program was intended to promote more efficient emissions reductions by allowing facilities to meet their annual cap either by adopting pollution controls directly or by purchasing RECLAIM trading credits (RTCs) from other facilities able to install controls at lower cost and achieve emissions below their caps. In its early years supporters praised RECLAIM as a success, pointing to significant reductions across the South Coast Air Basin. But in more recent years, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other stakeholders criticized RECLAIM as falling short of expectations, pointing to periods of RTC price spikes reducing the program’s coverage and a subsequent glut of RTCs from plant closures that critics claim lowered the incentive for pollution reductions at remaining RECLAIM facilities. Continue Reading SCAQMD’s Historic RECLAIM Program Sunset Faces Questions on the Horizon