Category

Environmental Justice

02 May 2022

EPA Launches Investigation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

Under the Biden Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA” or the “Agency”) has announced the advancement of environmental justice and civil rights as an Agency goal. For fiscal years 2022–2026, the Agency has included in its FY 2022 – FY 2026 EPA Strategic Plan (“Strategic Plan”) the objective to promote environmental justice and civil rights at the federal, tribal, state, and local levels. Within that plan, the EPA noted that the Agency “ha[s] already seen an increase in external civil rights cases being referred to the EPA, and…are investigating them to ensure that recipients of EPA dollars do not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or retaliation.” (more…)

SHARE
EmailShare
27 April 2022

EPA Releases Equity Action Plan to Advance Environmental Justice and Civil Rights

On April 14, 2022, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) released an Equity Action Plan, in accordance with Executive Order 13985, which directs EPA and other federal agencies to develop a plan to address barriers faced by underserved communities regarding full and equal participation in the Agency’s programs and procurement and contracting opportunities. Within the Equity Action Plan, EPA identifies six agency priority actions: (more…)

SHARE
EmailShare
21 April 2022

Council on Environmental Quality Partially Restores National Environmental Policy Act Provisions

The U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a Final Rule regarding implementing regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on Wednesday, April 20. As anticipated, the CEQ’s final version is nearly identical to the earlier Proposed Rule and revises three separate NEPA provisions that CEQ identified as posing significant near-term interpretation or implementation challenges for federal agencies. These three provisions include purpose and need, 40 C.F.R. § 1502.13; agency NEPA procedures, 40 C.F.R. § 1507.3; and the definition of “effects” or “impacts.” Ultimately, CEQ’s Final Rule abandons revisions the agency made to NEPA regulations in 2020 and returns certain aspects of NEPA review to the former approach. CEQ noted that this revision is the first of two phases, so additional NEPA regulatory revisions are expected later this year. (more…)

SHARE
EmailShare
29 March 2022

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…)

SHARE
EmailShare
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…)

SHARE
EmailShare
24 February 2022

Climate Change Takes Center Stage in FERC’s Updated Policy on the Certification of New Natural Gas Infrastructure

On February 18, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) announced for the first time that it will consider a proposed natural gas infrastructure project’s impact on climate change as part of its public interest determination under sections 3 and 7 of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”).  A proposed project’s environmental effects, including reasonably foreseeable greenhouse gas emissions that may be attributable to the project and the project’s impact on environmental justice communities, now will become part of FERC’s balancing test for whether a project is: (1) required by the public convenience and necessity (“PCN”) under NGA section 7; (2) or in the public interest under NGA section 3.  FERC’s prior PCN policy prioritized economic factors to define public need. Environmental effects, while considered under the NGA, were addressed primarily under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). (more…)

SHARE
EmailShare
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…)

SHARE
EmailShare
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…)

SHARE
EmailShare
28 January 2022

EPA Adds Four New PFAS to Toxic Release Inventory, Continues Addressing Strategic Roadmap Goals

As part of its continued focus on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) regulations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added four PFAS substances to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) list, including PFBS (perfluorobutane sulfonic acid) and potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate as well as two compounds listed at by their chemical identifier numbers — CASRN 65104-45-2 and CASRN 203743-03-7. (more…)

SHARE
EmailShare
26 January 2022

EPA Enforcement Division Releases 2021 Statistics, Highlighting Higher Penalties and Commitment to Environmental Justice

On January 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) released its annual enforcement results for fiscal year 2021. OECA’s report provides some indication of the Biden EPA’s priorities for enforcement. Notably, OECA secured higher civil penalty amounts and financial commitments to injunctive relief in 2021 than in each of the previous four years, which supports the expectation that administrative enforcement actions in key priority areas will continue to increase during the Biden administration. (more…)

SHARE
EmailShare