EPA Revokes Pruitt’s Anti–“Sue and Settle” Policy

On March 25, 2022, EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued a memorandum titled “Consent Decrees and Settlement Agreements to Resolve Environmental Claims Against the Agency” (the Memorandum). The Memorandum revokes the memo and directive issued by former administrator Scott Pruitt, who had sought to foreclose a practice described by some as “sue and settle,” whereby groups would file a lawsuit that would be resolved by a settlement with EPA that would lead to new regulatory policies. (more…)

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EPA Poses Questions to New St. Croix Refinery Owners to Make Prevention of Significant Deterioration Permit Determination

On March 22, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a letter to the West Indies Petroleum Limited and Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation LLLP, the new owners of the St. Croix refinery (Refinery). The letter addresses permitting requirements for the Refinery under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations — and offers insight into the agency’s current practice for evaluating PSD requirements when a source seeks to restart a permitted facility. (more…)

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FERC Rolls Back its Recently Enacted Policy Statements on the Certification of New Natural Gas Infrastructure

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced on March 24, 2022, that it will delay enacting any changes to its existing policies on the authorization or certification of interstate natural gas pipeline infrastructure under Sections 3 and 7 of the Natural Gas Act. Two policy statements FERC issued on February 18, 2022, in Docket No. PL18-1 and Docket No. PL21-3 (collectively, the 2022 Certificate Policy Statements) have now been deemed “drafts” that are subject to further comment. Initial comments will be due on April 25, 2022, with reply comments due on May 25, 2022. One of the two policy statements, which had been deemed “interim” but given immediate legal effect on February 18 prior to being relabeled a “draft” on March 24, had an initial comment date of April 4, 2022, which has now been extended to the aforementioned dates. Sidley provided a detailed summary of the changes implemented in the 2022 Certificate Policy Statements in a prior client alert and Energy Brief. (more…)

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SEC Proposes Far-Reaching Rules for “Enhancement and Standardization” of Climate-Related Disclosures

On March 21, 2022, the SEC issued proposed rules that would require public companies to include extensive climate-related information in their registration statements and periodic reports. The proposed rules would require disclosure concerning climate-related risks and impacts, oversight and governance of climate-related risks, climate-related financial statement metrics, climate-related goals, and greenhouse gas emissions. (more…)

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Propose to List Northern Long-Eared Bat as Endangered Species

On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to reclassify the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), a bat species found in 38 U.S. states or territories, as an endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (Act). The Service’s proposed reclassification is a direct response to a federal judge’s court order requiring the Service to revisit its previous listing decision and account for the impact of white nose syndrome (WNS), a disease-causing fungal infection that ultimately results in mortality. The heightened listing for the species is very likely to affect ongoing and future development over a large geographic region, given the species’ range outside of areas affected by WNS. (more…)

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EPA Notifies Plastics Container Industry of Potential Presence of PFAS and TSCA Compliance Requirements

On March 16, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified the fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) industry in a letter that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) could be formed in HDPE containers or similar plastics as a byproduct, which may trigger notification requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and be a violation of TSCA as contamination. (more…)

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EPA Proposes to Adopt New American Society for Testing and Materials Standard, Including PFAS, for CERCLA Phase I All Appropriate Inquiry

On March 14, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed and direct final rule, which adopts the E1527-21 standard issued by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), for All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) required under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). (more…)

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What Lies Ahead for Carbon Capture – Environmental and Subsurface Perspectives for CCUS

Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) projects are gaining momentum as an important pathway to achieving both private- and public-sector climate targets. This trend is expected to accelerate with recently authorized federal funding and administration announcements. At the same time, the value proposition for CCUS may be subject to change based on government policy priorities, permitting processes, and potential permanence challenges, among other factors. So what lies ahead for carbon capture? (more…)

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EPA Announces New Actions Affecting Emissions From Mobile Sources

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took two actions related to mobile source emissions under the Clean Air Act that represent the agency’s continued focus on transportation, climate change, and environmental justice.

On March 7, 2022, EPA announced newly proposed emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles and engines, which would apply starting in model year 2027. The proposed standards would reduce allowed emissions of nitrogen oxides from heavy-duty gasoline and diesel engines and set more stringent greenhouse gas standards for certain commercial vehicle categories. Beyond numerical reductions in emissions, the rule also indicates EPA’s broader shift in focus to environmental justice. (more…)

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U.S. Treasury’s Federal Insurance Office Eyes Climate Risk Factors in the Insurance Sector

In February 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury Federal Insurance Office (FIO) announced that it would be joining the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System. FIO intends to address climate-related financial risks and their effects on the insurance sector. (more…)

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