On May 24, 2023, EPA released a guidance memorandum addressing the hazardous waste status of lithium ion batteries under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). EPA released the guidance to “both remove uncertainties for the states and industry about the regulatory status of these materials,” and to ensure that lithium ion batteries are properly handled when they are recycled.Continue Reading EPA Clarifies Hazardous Waste Requirements Applicable to Lithium Ion Batteries
Statement of Energy Strategy Coalition upon the EPA’s Issuance of Proposed Greenhouse Gas Standards and Guidelines for Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants
The Energy Strategy Coalition is a group of companies that operates in nearly every state and includes some of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric and gas utilities, public power authorities and generators of electricity from renewable, nuclear and gas-fired sources.
The EPA’s proposal of carbon pollution standards for existing coal-fired power plants and new and existing gas-fired power plants represents an important step for the U.S. electricity sector. Well-designed standards can help support the deployment of technologies supported by the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and serve as a backstop to the emission reductions expected to occur under both of these laws.
The Coalition looks forward to examining EPA’s proposals in more detail and providing comments on how durable carbon pollution standards can support its members’ and this Administration’s decarbonization objectives, while preserving affordability, reliability, job-creation and strong incentives for the continued deployment and operation of zero-carbon resources.
 For more information on the Coalition’s current membership, visit https://www.cov.com/en/professionals/p/kevin-poloncarz.
ICVCM Launches Core Carbon Principles for Voluntary Carbon Market
On March 30, the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM), an independent governance body that aims to set and maintain a global standard for quality in the voluntary carbon market, announced the launch of its Core Carbon Principles. The Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) are intended to establish fundamental principles for high-quality carbon credits that create a verifiable climate impact, based on the latest science and best practice. On the same day, ICVCM also issued the Program-level Assessment Framework and the Assessment Procedures, both designed to assist carbon-crediting programs in verifying that such programs and the credits that they issue comply with the CCPs. Given the role that ICVCM has assumed in recent discussions concerning integrity in the voluntary carbon market (VCM), the CCPs and related Program-level Assessment Framework and Assessment Procedures are likely to draw significant attention from stakeholders at all stages of the VCM-supply chain.Continue Reading ICVCM Launches Core Carbon Principles for Voluntary Carbon Market
Global Spotlight: the IRA’s Implications for Key U.S. Allies
Funding incentives under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) to transition to a clean energy economy are unleashing opportunities for key U.S. allies and partners around the world. In particular, tax credits exceeding 10% of the price of average electric vehicle (EV) sold in the United States are leading to new investments in Mexico and Canada, and have triggered high-level political negotiations from U.S. partners such as the European Union and Japan.Continue Reading Global Spotlight: the IRA’s Implications for Key U.S. Allies
Greenwashing: EU Unveils Ambitious Proposal on Green Claims
On March 22, 2023, the European Commission (“Commission”) presented its proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (“Proposed Green Claims Directive”). The Proposed Green Claims Directive is intended to work in tandem with the Commission’s 2022 Proposal for a Directive empowering consumers for the green transition through better protection against unfair practices and better information (“Proposed Greenwashing Directive”). Both Proposed Directives are intended to contribute to the EU’s green transition towards a circular, climate-neutral and clean economy by enabling consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on reliable information about the sustainability of products and traders. In particular, the Proposed Green Claims Directive would create a common methodology for substantiating green claims about the environmental footprint of products, services and companies and require companies making environmental claims to secure a certification of compliance from an independent national “verifier.”Continue Reading Greenwashing: EU Unveils Ambitious Proposal on Green Claims
Much-Anticipated Proposed Regulations on the 30D EV Tax Credit Have Finally Arrived—but Leave a Key Question Unresolved
Today, the Department of the Treasury and IRS made available for public inspection proposed regulations on the new clean vehicle credit under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, as codified in section 30D of the Internal Revenue Code. These proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2023, and the due date for comments will be 60 days after the publication (or Friday, June 16, 2023).Continue Reading Much-Anticipated Proposed Regulations on the 30D EV Tax Credit Have Finally Arrived—but Leave a Key Question Unresolved
Will Treasury Adopt the Same Interpretation of “Foreign Entity of Concern” for both the Section 48D Credit under the CHIPS Act and the Section 30D Credit under the Inflation Reduction Act?
Later this week the Department of the Treasury is expected to release guidance on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)’s EV tax credit under section 30D of the Internal Revenue Code. Highly consequential for the guidance and practical availability of the credit will be how Treasury interprets the term “foreign entity of concern.” This is because Section 30D(d)(7) excludes from credit eligibility vehicles that are:
- placed in service after December 31, 2024, with respect to which any of the applicable critical minerals contained in the battery of such vehicle . . . were extracted, processed, or recycled by a foreign entity of concern; or
- placed in service after December 31, 2023, with respect to which any of the components contained in the battery of such vehicle . . . were manufactured or assembled by a foreign entity of concern.
Meanwhile, last week, Treasury and the Commerce Department released proposed regulations (here and here, respectively) that interpret “foreign entity of concern” for purposes of various incentive programs under the CHIPS & Science Act (CHIPS Act). Because the IRA’s definition of “foreign entity of concern” mirrors the CHIPS Act’s definition of “foreign entity of concern” interpreted by Commerce, and because Treasury cross-referenced Commerce’s interpretation of “foreign entity of concern” in Treasury’s CHIPS Act guidance, it is reasonable to wonder whether Treasury will adopt the same interpretation of “foreign entity of concern” for purposes of the EV credit exclusion in section 30D(d)(7).
If it does, there could be a dramatic diminution of vehicles eligible for the EV credits. Under Treasury’s proposed CHIPS Act regulations, a foreign entity of concern would include, inter alia, (i) any entity organized under the laws of China or having its principal place of business in China, and (ii) any entity organized outside of China 25% or more of whose voting interests are owned by the Chinese government (as in the case of foreign subsidiaries of Chinese state-owned entities (SOEs)). If that interpretation is used for purposes of section 30D, absent a nearly impossibly fast elimination of Chinese critical minerals and battery components from the EV supply chain, the number of vehicles eligible for the 30D EV credit will sharply decrease in 2024 and will be practically eliminated in 2025.
EV manufacturers and suppliers may wish to flag this concern to Treasury.Continue Reading Will Treasury Adopt the Same Interpretation of “Foreign Entity of Concern” for both the Section 48D Credit under the CHIPS Act and the Section 30D Credit under the Inflation Reduction Act?
Stakeholders Threaten to Sue the EPA to Require Regulation of Noise Pollution
On March 17, 2023, a law school clinic submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) a sixty-day notice of intent to sue letter, setting forth various entities’ intent to sue the EPA for its alleged failure to perform various non-discretionary duties under the Noise Control Act of 1972 (the “Act”).
The Act has been largely unused since 1982. Should the EPA resume regulating noise pollution, it could have significant implications for a wide variety of product manufacturers, who could become subject to a host of regulatory requirements relating to controlling noise from products. For example, manufacturers of certain products could become subject to certain labeling, verification, recordkeeping, and reporting obligations.Continue Reading Stakeholders Threaten to Sue the EPA to Require Regulation of Noise Pollution
The Commission adopts its Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework relaxing State aid rules as a response to the US Inflation Reduction Act
As part of “A Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net Zero Age” to respond to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) (see our alert), the European Commission (the “Commission”) adopted on 9 March 2023 its Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework for State Aid measures to support the economy following the aggression against Ukraine by Russia (the “TCTF”). The text amends the Temporary Crisis Framework last amended on 28 October 2022 (see our blog).
These are the three most important things you need to know about the TCTF:
- To avoid that an investment would be located outside the European Economic Area (EEA), EU countries may support investments in the manufacturing of relevant equipment for the transition towards a net-zero economy, such as batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps, carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), as well as their key components and critical raw materials necessary for their production. They may even grant aid matching foreign subsidies to support those investments, provided that they are located in the poorer areas of the EU.
- EU countries’ possibilities to grant aid for accelerating the rollout of renewable energy are extended to any renewable technologies, including hydropower, and no longer require a bidding process to select the aided projects that are considered as less mature.
- The TCTF is not a subsidy program, and it is up to EU Member States to provide public funding.
EPA Requires States to Address the Cybersecurity of Public Water Systems
On March 3, 2023, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) published a memorandum requiring states to evaluate the cybersecurity of operational technology used by public water systems (“PWSs”) “when conducting PWS sanitary surveys or through other state programs.” EPA’s memorandum “interprets the regulatory requirements relating to the conduct of sanitary surveys to require that when a PWS uses operational technology (“OT”), such as an industrial control system (“ICS”), as part of the equipment or operation of any required component of a sanitary survey, then the sanitary survey of that PWS must include an evaluation of the adequacy of the cybersecurity of that operational technology for producing and distributing safe drinking water.” Specifically, “EPA’s interpretation clarifies that the regulatory requirement to review the ‘equipment’ and ‘operation’ of a PWS necessarily encompasses a review of the cybersecurity practices and controls needed to maintain the integrity and continued functioning of operational technology of the PWS that could impact the supply or safety of the water provided to customers.”Continue Reading EPA Requires States to Address the Cybersecurity of Public Water Systems