On August 16, 2022—one year ago today—President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”), the most significant clean energy and climate law in U.S. history. As we described in a series last summer, the IRA created durable tax credits and other fiscal programs to revitalize domestic manufacturing and incentivize clean energy solutions in nearly every sector of the economy. The IRA’s one year anniversary is a key opportunity to take stock of what the law has propelled and what is expected around the corner.Continue Reading The First Year of the Inflation Reduction Act
On July 31, 2023, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released the second phase of its revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations that govern federal environmental review. Titled the “Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule,” the proposed rule reflects CEQ’s aim to revise and modernize the regulations and incorporate updates to address recent statutory changes to NEPA in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.1Continue Reading White House Council on Environmental Quality Proposes “Phase 2” Revisions to Environmental Review Regulations
On 26 June 2023, the International Sustainability Standards Board (the “ISSB”) issued its inaugural International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) Sustainability Disclosure Standards (the “Standards”), heralding progress in the development of a global baseline of sustainability-linked disclosures. The Standards build on the concepts that underpin the IFRS Accounting Standards, which are required in more than 140 jurisdictions, but notably not in the United States for domestic issuers subject to regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), which must apply US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“US GAAP”). Despite broad investor appetite for transparent, uniform and comparable disclosure rules, the scope of required sustainability disclosure and timing for adoption of the SEC’s pending climate disclosure rule remains unresolved.Continue Reading ISSB Issues Inaugural Global Sustainability Disclosure Standards
On 19 June 2023, after almost 20 years of negotiations, the United Nations (“UN”) member states adopted a landmark treaty to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine Biodiversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (the “BBNJ” treaty).
One of the cornerstones of the BBNJ treaty is the creation of a new mechanism for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from activities with respect to “marine genetic resources” (“MGRs”) and “digital sequence information” (“DSI”) from MGRs. This mechanism is groundbreaking because it will require companies to pay for the use of genetic resources beyond national jurisdiction for the first time. Until now, under the existing Convention on Biological Diversity (“CBD”) and its Nagoya Protocol, companies were required to make (non-)monetary contributions only for the utilization of genetic resources under national jurisdiction (e.g., from national territories, national seas and exclusive economic zones). The BBNJ creates new “Access and Benefit-Sharing” (“ABS”) obligations on MGRs from maritime areas beyond national jurisdiction (i.e., the High Seas and the Area).
Companies in sectors whose R&D depends on marine genetic resources will be required to contribute to share financial and other benefits. In this blog we focus on those provisions of the BBNJ which will have the most direct impact on companies.Continue Reading Historic Marine Biodiversity Treaty creates new Access and Benefit-Sharing obligations for life sciences companies
The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, signed into law on June 3, raised the U.S. debt limit and ushered in the most significant revisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its 50+ year history. While the statutory changes are notable and important to understand, most of the changes codify longstanding agency practice and are expected to have only modest effects on environmental reviews, primarily with respect to timelines for completion.
In addition to these statutory changes, energy and infrastructure developers and other stakeholders are awaiting the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ’s) “Phase 2” proposed NEPA rule. CEQ will likely seek to harmonize its proposed rule with the new statutory changes and could pose questions for public comment regarding new provisions that may warrant interpretation by CEQ. Congress may pursue additional permitting-related changes in the coming months, as well.
The following is a summary of the key changes to NEPA, placed in relevant context.Continue Reading Amendments to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Permitting Reform in Context
On May 23, 2023, the FTC hosted a public workshop on recyclable claims called “Talking Trash at the FTC: Recyclable Claims and the Green Guides.” The FTC convened the workshop in connection with its ongoing review of the Green Guides. The workshop included three panels of stakeholders discussing a variety of issues relating to the current state of recycling claims, consumer perception of such claims, and how the FTC should consider updating its guidance.Continue Reading FTC Solicits Diverse Perspectives during Workshop on Recyclable Claims
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
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.
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
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