Extensive Climate Disclosure Requirements Proposed for Federal Contractors

On November 10, 2022, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, composed of the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and chaired by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget, issued a proposed rule that would require certain federal contractors to disclose climate-related information to the System for Award Management (SAM) and, in certain instances, make such information publicly available on its website. (more…)

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IRA-Driven Carbon Capture Needs Strategic Approach

Sidley Austin lawyers say that developers should proactively engage agencies in order to effectively leverage Inflation Reduction Act tax credits and federal funds for carbon capture and sequestration projects. The permitting and approval process is ripe for reform, they say.

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U.S. Supreme Court Denies Request to Reinstate Injunction of Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

On May 26, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order in Louisiana v. Biden denying a request to intervene and reinstate a district court order that had blocked the administration from using a key climate metric, known as the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions (SC-GHGs). In 2021, the Biden administration set various interim SC-GHGs, including the SC-CO2 at $51 per metric ton of carbon dioxide, which two groups of states have challenged in federal courts in Louisiana and Missouri. (more…)

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EPA Proposes “Good Neighbor” Plan Addressing Regional Ozone Transport for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard

On April 6, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to publish its proposed Federal Implementation Plan Addressing Ozone Transport for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), otherwise known as the latest iteration of EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule or “Good Neighbor” Plan. The proposal would subject 26 upwind states to the “good neighbor” or “interstate transport” provision of the Clean Air Act because EPA is proposing to find that nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which are a precursor to ozone formation, from the upwind states significantly contribute to downwind states’ attaining and maintaining the 2015 ozone NAAQS.

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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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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…)

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Bureau of Land Management Announces Plans to Assess Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Oil and Gas Lease Sales

On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that state offices will solicit feedback from the public this week on proposed oil and gas lease sales to be held in early 2022 through draft environmental assessments. In addition to analyzing the effects of lease sales on air and water quality, wildlife habitats, and community impacts, these environmental assessments will also analyze greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale, including the social cost of carbon. (more…)

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Congress Rescinds Trump-Era Methane “Policy Rule”

On June 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to rescind a Trump-era methane rule using its Congressional Review Act (CRA) authority, which includes special procedures that allow Congress and the President to rescind certain rules promulgated during a prior administration, within defined time limits. The Senate passed the CRA resolution disapproving the rule on April 28, 2021. The measure garnered bipartisan support in both chambers. Congress presented the resolution to President Biden, who signed it on June 30, 2021.

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FERC Climate Change Concerns to Delay Five Pending Natural Gas Pipeline Projects

On May 27, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) indicated that it would increase the timeline for making a decision on five pending applications for Natural Gas Act (NGA) Section 7 certificates of public convenience and necessity when it issued notices of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to each of the project sponsors. Each of the applications concern pipeline expansion projects that were the subject of environmental assessments (EAs) performed by FERC staff. The notices state that the new EISs will tier off of the existing EAs and will be limited in scope to assisting FERC in its consideration of the subject projects’ contribution to climate change in the FERC decision-making process.

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FERC Makes First Significance Determination on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On March 22, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) for the first time issued an order that assessed whether greenhouse gas emissions related to a natural gas pipeline certificate project would significantly contribute to climate change. FERC purported to perform the assessment pursuant to its obligation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to take a “hard look” at a project’s environmental impacts.

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