Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that modifies the regulations applicable to the Energy Credit under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). The NPRM also withdraws and repurposes portions of an August proposal on the rules governing the increased credit amount available for taxpayers satisfying prevailing wage and registered apprenticeship requirements established by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This post summarizes a few key aspects of the NPRM below:Continue Reading Department of the Treasury and IRS propose new guidance for the Section 48 Investment Tax Credit
Laws and regulations that require companies, both private and public, to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to expand in the European Union and in the United States. Under the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), beginning in 2025, EU-based public companies and large EU-based private companies will be required to report all material Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions as set forth in the European Sustainability Reporting Standards. In the United States, California recently passed landmark climate-related disclosure legislation that will require U.S. companies that do business in California and have greater than $1 billion in annual revenues to file annual reports publicly disclosing their Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions beginning in 2026proposed climate-related disclosure rule. Initially proposed in March 2022, if finalized, the SEC rule would require public companies to disclose their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions and material Scope 3 emissions. And later this year, world policymakers, activists, and business leaders will convene at COP28 to discuss global progress towards achieving the net-zero GHG emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) sits at the center of all these efforts. Established by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Counsel for Sustainable Development in 2001, the GHG Protocol establishes comprehensive standards for private and public entities to calculate and report their GHG emissions and track progress towards their emissions targets.Continue Reading Calculating and Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Primer on the GHG Protocol
As directed by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 (CAA) that was signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022, on October 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the report on its general assessment of the state of the U.S. compliance and voluntary carbon markets for the agricultural and forestry sectors. The report, titled Report to Congress: A General Assessment of the Role of Agriculture and Forestry in U.S. Carbon Markets (Report) provides a summary of the assessment’s findings with respect to the current supply and demand of agriculture and forestry carbon credits in the U.S., as well as the barriers to market entry faced by many agriculture and forestry landowners and operators. The Report also highlights the role that USDA could play in reducing such barriers, notably through a potential GHG Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verification Program (Program). As participants in the voluntary carbon market search for greater certainty regarding the integrity of carbon credits being bought or sold, the Program may become a unique and valued resource for potential project developers and carbon credit buyers.Continue Reading USDA Releases Carbon Markets Assessment, Setting Stage for Technical Assistance Program
On October 20, 2023, EPA released a final rule under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (“EPCRA”) relating to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). The Rule makes important revisions to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (“TRI”) program relating to 189 specified PFAS.Continue Reading Key Takeaways from EPA’s EPCRA PFAS Rule
On September 22, the Commerce Department published a final rule implementing the national security-related restrictions and obligations on recipients of incentive funds under the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (the “CHIPS Act”). The final rule clarifies in some respects, and substantially expands in other respects, the definition of “foreign entity of concern” that appeared in Commerce’s proposed rule, issued in March.
When Commerce issued its proposed rule, the Treasury Department cross-referenced Commerce’s definition of “foreign entity of concern” in Treasury’s concurrently proposed regulations for the CHIPS Act’s tax credit under section 48D of the Internal Revenue Code. We commented at the time that if Treasury were to adopt that same definition for the section 30D electric vehicle (EV) credit under the Inflation Reduction Act (the “IRA”), there could be a significant reduction in the number of vehicles eligible for such credits relative to market expectations. Treasury issued proposed regulations for other aspects of the 30D credit one week after the CHIPS Act guidance, but did not include an interpretation of the term “foreign entity of concern,” and to date has yet to do so (though it has signaled an intent to do so later this year).Continue Reading Commerce Final Rule Heightens Uncertainty as to How Treasury Will Interpret “Foreign Entity of Concern” for EV Credits Under Section 30D of the Inflation Reduction Act
On September 13, 2023, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1305 (AB 1305), which imposes wide-ranging disclosure requirements on (1) entities that market or sell voluntary carbon offsets and (2) entities that purchase and rely on these offsets to advertise their climate goals. The bill has been enrolled and is currently on Governor Newsom’s desk.
AB 1305 comes on the heels of escalating criticism of voluntary carbon offsets, including arguments that corporations use low-quality offsets to engage in greenwashing. AB 1305 is likely to prompt companies to engage in careful due diligence before making climate-related claims and to ensure that they rely on high-quality offsets that correspond to real emission reductions or removals.Continue Reading Law Enacted by California Legislature Would Require Companies to Disclose Key Details About Voluntary Carbon Offsets and Claims Made in Reliance Upon Them
On September 28, 2023, EPA released a final rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TCSA”) mandating reporting relating to past manufacturing of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). Below are key takeaways companies that may be subject to these reporting requirements should keep in mind.Continue Reading Key Takeaways from EPA’s PFAS Reporting Rule
Last week, the California Legislature passed two bills comprising the core of a landmark “Climate Accountability Package.” Together, the two bills will impose extensive new climate-related disclosure obligations on thousands of U.S. public and private companies with operations in California. Senate Bill 253 (SB 253) would require companies with greater than $1 billion in annual revenues to file annual reports publicly disclosing their Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Senate Bill 261 (SB 261) would require companies with greater than $500 million in annual revenues to prepare biennial reports disclosing climate-related financial risk and describing measures adopted to mitigate and adapt to that risk.
Yesterday afternoon during an appearance at Climate Week NYC, Governor Newsom told the audience emphatically, “of course I will sign those bills.” When he does, many more companies will be required to improve the accuracy, completeness and rigor of their GHG reporting and climate risk disclosures. Because of the complexity of GHG reporting, we have focused the remainder of this post on SB 253. Please see our separate post on SB 261 here.Continue Reading California Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Disclosure Laws: Spotlight on SB 253
Last week, the California Legislature passed two bills as part of the state’s landmark “Climate Accountability Package.” If signed by Governor Newsom as anticipated, the two laws—Senate Bill 253 (SB 253) and Senate Bill 261 (SB 261)—will usher in significant climate-related disclosure requirements for thousands of U.S. public and private companies that do business in California.
SB 253 and SB 261 mark the most extensive emissions- and climate-disclosure laws enacted in the United States to date. SB 253 requires companies with greater than $1 billion in annual revenues to file annual reports publicly disclosing their direct, indirect, and supply chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, verified by an independent and experienced third-party provider. SB 261 requires companies with $500 million in annual revenues to prepare biennial reports disclosing climate-related financial risk and measures they have adopted to reduce and adapt to that risk, with the first report due by January 1, 2026.
This post focuses on SB 261’s climate-related financial risk disclosure requirements. You can find our post on SB 253’s GHG emissions reporting requirements here.Continue Reading California Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Disclosure Laws: Spotlight on SB 261
The following interview originally appeared in the National Law Journal.
What you need to know
- One of the significant issues many of their multinational clients have is the growing divide between how they operate and what’s expected of them in the U.S. versus Europe.
- At the same time the legal field has experienced this anti-ESG backlash over the last year in the U.S., the EU has moved full speed ahead on many ESG initiatives with significant consequences for businesses, including the EU Taxonomy, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.
- There is also growing litigation risk because with so much more scrutiny, and so much more information in the public domain, there are a range of stakeholders and potential plaintiffs on ESG issues, from state officials to NGOs
The Biden administration has set clear policy goals to establish effective corporate net-zero strategies on the one hand, yet there has also been growing pushback against the climate aspect of ESG in many red states. How do you advise clients on climate regulation in this very fluid environment?
Jayni Hein: We are all witnessing this summer, yet again, record-breaking land and ocean temperatures and pervasive wildfire smoke. It’s undeniable that climate change is affecting how we live today and how businesses operate. How both the government and the private sector respond is critically important.Continue Reading Q&A: Navigating Climate and ESG Amid Regulatory Uncertainty