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
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
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 2023.1 Continue Reading White House Council on Environmental Quality Proposes “Phase 2” Revisions to Environmental Review Regulations
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
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.
On January 6th, the White House Council of Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) released a new Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change (“the Guidance”) in permitting decisions, with significant implications for energy and infrastructure projects. Though this Guidance is effective as of the date of publication, it was issued on an interim basis and CEQ will consider comments until March 10th, after which it could be revised further.
CEQ’s recommendations will influence the Biden Administration’s analysis of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), applying immediately to all newly proposed actions as well as some on-going NEPA reviews. While the Guidance is largely framed as a series of recommendations rather than requirements, it highlights best practices for environmental reviews that could help expedite project completions, improve agency decision making, and minimize litigation risks for developers. Ultimately, CEQ is trying to ensure that agencies and project developers pay sufficient attention to climate impacts, without causing unwarranted delays to agency decision-making, particularly considering that accelerating clean energy infrastructure is a key component of the Biden Admiration’s climate agenda.
The Guidance seeks to foster a greater understanding of GHG impacts and the tradeoffs among alternatives, thus raising expectations around the quality of federal GHG analyses. Project developers will want to work closely with federal regulators to ensure the sufficiency of agency NEPA reviews. Failures to do so may provide project opponents a pathway to litigation. Continue Reading White House issues guidance on greenhouse gas analysis in permitting decisions
Notice 2023-9, “Section 45W Commercial Clean Vehicles and Incremental Cost for 2023”
Concurrent with the white paper and Notice 2023-1, discussed in a separate blog, on December 29, 2022, the IRS released Notice 2023-9, which provides a safe harbor for determining the incremental cost of qualified commercial clean vehicles for the section 45W credit.Continue Reading Treasury and the IRS provide a safe harbor for determining the incremental cost of a clean vehicle for the commercial clean vehicle credit
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (“GHG Protocol” or “Protocol”)—a leading standard setter for measuring and managing corporate greenhouse gas emissions, borne of a partnership between World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)—has opened stakeholder surveys concerning the revision of its Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, Guidance on Scope 2 Emissions, and the Scope 3 Standard and Scope 3 Calculation Guidance.Continue Reading Corporate Carbon Counting Under Scrutiny—Comments Requested on Pending Updates to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol