By

Samuel Boxerman

22 March 2022

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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17 March 2022

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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10 March 2022

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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09 March 2022

Ninth Circuit Approves U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Barred Owls vs. Spotted Owls Experiment

On March 4, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in Friends of Animals v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and FWS’ experimental plan that authorizes certain individuals to kill barred owls, a species of owls that has encroached on the northern spotted owls’ habitat. Primarily in the Pacific Northwest, the northern spotted owl has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since June 26, 1990. 55 Fed. Reg. 26114. On December 15, 2020, FWS released its 12-month finding for the northern spotted owl that precluded reclassifying the species from threatened to endangered. (more…)

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08 March 2022

Council on Environmental Quality, EPA Release Environmental Justice Screening Tools

On February 18, 2022, the Biden administration launched two tools to address environmental justice.

Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN) 2.0

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) announced EJSCREEN 2.0, an update to the mapping tool, which the Agency uses to identify areas that may have higher environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. EPA uses EJSCREEN to inform several Agency functions, including permitting, enforcement, outreach, and compliance. (more…)

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23 February 2022

Texas Supreme Court Holds Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Definition of “Operator” Controls Over Judicial Interpretation

On February 11, 2022, the Supreme Court of Texas issued its opinion in Texas Environmental Quality et al. v. Maverick County, et al., a case that addressed the meaning of the term “operator” in the context of the application for an issuance of Texas Pollution Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) permits. Maverick County provides clarity about who must apply for a TPDES permit, particularly in the context of facilities owned by one entity but operated day-to-day by another. The decision also provides a helpful analysis of what definitions govern when a judicial interpretation differs from the language provided by an agency pursuant to its statutory authority. (more…)

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17 February 2022

EPA Appoints Environmental Justice Advisor to Support Administrator’s Environmental Justice Goals

On February 8, 2022, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan announced the appointment of Robin Morris Collin as Senior Advisor of Environmental Justice to the Administrator. This appointment is the most recent agency action in the EPA-wide effort to prioritize environmental justice. According to EPA, “Collin will advise Administrator Regan as the Agency works to advance environmental justice and civil rights in communities that continue to suffer from disproportionately high pollution levels, including low-income communities and communities of color.” (more…)

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15 February 2022

Federal Judge Blocks Biden’s Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas Estimates

On February 11, 2022, Judge James Cain of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming (Plaintiff States) to prohibit federal agencies from adopting and relying on the interim Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas (SC-GHG) estimates established by the Interagency Working Group (IWG). Executive Order 13990 mandated that IWG publish estimates of the monetized damages associated with incremental increases in greenhouse gas emissions. (more…)

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10 February 2022

Flint, Michigan, Water Woes Continue for Independent Engineering Company

On Monday, February 7, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan denied in part a professional engineering company’s motion for summary judgment in Walters et al. v. Flint et al., part of the ongoing Flint water litigation. Plaintiffs in the litigation sought to hold the engineering company, which has served as a water engineer for the City of Flint since at least 2011 and had been involved in discussing and planning the city’s possible switch of water source, liable for professional negligence based on the company’s failure to warn the city of its plan’s shortcomings or otherwise recommend corrective measures.   (more…)

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