Fifth Circuit Vacates and Remands Injunction on Nationwide Oil and Gas Lease Pause

On August 17, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (the Court) vacated and remanded an order by the federal district court for the Western District of Louisiana (the District Court) of a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the Biden administration (the Government) from pausing oil and gas lease sales. The Court found that the District Court’s decision lacked specificity.

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Quarterly Review: Biden Administration’s Advancement of Environmental Justice

In the second quarter of 2022, the Biden administration took steps to implement the President’s whole-of-government environmental justice (EJ) strategy. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ or the Department), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency), and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) each announced initiatives to address EJ in a variety of agency functions. Additionally, the White House provided an update on funding available to disadvantaged communities. (more…)

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Supreme Court Upends EPA’s Broad Claims of Climate Regulatory Authority

On Thursday, June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in West Virginia v. EPA, holding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its statutory authority in adopting the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP). The 6–3 decision may limit EPA’s ability to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions comprehensively. A summary of the Court’s reasoning is set out below, followed by four “key takeaways.” (more…)

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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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U.S. Appeals, Seeks Stay of Injunction of Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas Estimates

On Saturday, February 19, 2022, the United States appealed an injunction prohibiting federal agencies from adopting and relying on the interim Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas estimates established by the Interagency Working Group. (more…)

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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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EPA Releases Draft Environmental Justice Plan

On January 5, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft Environmental Justice Action Plan. The Action Plan outlines measures that have been or will be implemented by EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) to address environmental justice (EJ) concerns in OLEM programs, including Superfund, emergency response, and risk management. (more…)

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EPA Rescinds Trump-Era Civil Inspection Rule

On Thursday, December 30, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule rescinding a Trump-era rule that changed EPA procedures for on-site inspections. The Trump-era inspection rule converted EPA civil inspection practices into rules that must be applied in all civil inspections. The December 30 recission “restor[es] the flexibility needed when carrying out civil inspections under a myriad of circumstances” by allowing inspectors to respond to site-specific conditions on a case-by-case basis. (more…)

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Biden Administration Issues Executive Order on Sustainable Procurement

On December 8, 2021, the Biden Administration issued an executive order seeking to leverage United States procurement power to promote investment in clean energy. The order sets out the following five goals: “100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE) by 2030, at least half of which will be locally supplied clean energy to meet 24/7 demand; 100 percent zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027; [n]et-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions; [a] net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032; and [n]et-zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050, including a 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030.” (more…)

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EPA Issues Final Rule to Reduce Hydroflurocarbons

On Friday, September 23, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the final rule to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% by 2036. The rule sets baselines for HFC production and consumption from which reductions can be measured and establishes a compliance and enforcement program. In addition to announcing the final rule, EPA also announced an interagency task force with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to prevent the illegal import and trade of HFCs. (more…)

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