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…)

DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division Withdraws Nine Guidance Documents From Trump Administration

Earlier this month, the Acting Assistant Attorney General supervising the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a memorandum rescinding nine policy or guidance documents issued for ENRD over the past three years. The documents generally concerned enforcement priorities and discretion and payments to third parties as part of settlements. The memorandum cites Executive Order 13,990, signed by President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021, which directs agencies to review agency agencies that may conflict with a range of environmental goals.


Trump Administration’s Science Transparency Rule Vacated

On Monday, February 1, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated the Trump administration’s Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information rule. Published on January 5 and effective immediately, the rule established procedures for how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would consider dose-response data underlying science used in its significant regulatory actions and influential scientific information. Opponents challenged the rule, arguing it would “cripple the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect public health and the environment by fundamentally transforming the ways in which the agency may consider and rely on scientific evidence.” The vacatur follows a January 27 order suspending the rule because the court found EPA failed to justify why it made the rule effective immediately and questioned “whether EPA retains any legal basis to promulgate the Final Rule.” Following the order, EPA moved to vacate the rule, arguing that the previous administration lacked authority to issue it.


Biden Executive Order Implements Sweeping Climate Change Policy; Industry Group Challenges Pause on New Oil and Gas Leases

As Sidley previously reported, President Joe Biden issued an executive order (EO) on January 27 stating that “climate considerations shall be an essential element of United States foreign policy and national security.” The EO places environmental justice at the center of the wide-reaching climate plan, which creates a number of new positions and task forces intended to ensure climate change is being addressed by all parts of the federal government.


U.S. Department of Interior Joins EPA in Revising Guidance Procedures

On October 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Interior (“DOI” or “The Department”) issued an interim final rule, which revises its guidelines for the development, review, and clearance of guidance documents.  The Department’s rule follows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s promulgation of a similar rule last month.  Both rules implement the October 2019 Executive Order on Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents directing Federal agencies to finalize regulations that set forth procedures for issuing guidance documents.


EPA Rule Establishing Requirements and Procedures for Guidance Documents Will Be Effective November 18

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published in the Federal Register a final rule establishing the agency’s management of guidance documents consistent with the Executive Order 13891, “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents,” which will become effective on November 18. (more…)

California Governor Directs State to Develop Near-Future Zero-Emission Vehicle Sales and Operation Mandates

On September 23, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20, expressing the goals that:

  • by 2035, 100% of all in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission vehicles (“ZEV”);
  • by 2045, 100% of all medium-and heavy-duty vehicles in the state be zero-emission for all operations where feasible (and the same goal for drayage trucks by 2035); and
  • by 2035, the State will transition to 100% zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment (where feasible).


Infrastructure EO May Lead to Policy Reversals, Litigation

*Article first appeared in Bloomberg Law on June 18, 2020.

A new executive order seeks to accelerate federal approvals of infrastructure and development projects, relying on various emergency authorities in environmental statutes. The authors of this article say the scope of these provisions, as well as their interaction with other laws, is uncertain, and investors and developers should be cautious of potential judicial challenges.


Environmental Implications of President Trump’s Executive Order on Enforcement and Regulatory Relief

Earlier this week President Trump issued an executive order aimed at bolstering economic recovery as businesses reopen. This has potential for marked effects on environmental enforcement in light of how the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice have already been adapting environmental priorities in the face of the pandemic. (more…)

President Issues Executive Order on Energy and Climate

On March 28, President Donald Trump issued an executive order called Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth (Order). The Order charts a new course for United States energy policy by directing agencies to reverse actions taken by the Obama administration to address climate change, including the Clean Power Plan. Specifically: