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
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
Today, the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2022-42 to address the reporting requirements for vehicle manufacturers and sellers. These reporting requirements are prerequisites for purchasers’ eligibility for clean vehicle tax credits under Sections 25E, 30D, and 45W. Section 30D(d)(3) requires that a manufacturer enter into a written agreement to become a qualified manufacturer, which requires periodic written reports to the IRS. Similarly, Section 30D(1)(H) requires that the person who sells a vehicle furnish a report to purchasers and the IRS.Continue Reading IRS Releases Reporting Requirements to Determine Eligibility for Clean Vehicle Tax Credits
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued three requests for information regarding recycling issues, a first step towards distributing funds and carrying out mandates contained in the last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The programs for which EPA is requesting information are primarily directed toward improving recycling of…
On 30 May 2022, the European Union (“EU”) adopted the revised Regulation on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure (No. 2022/869) (the “TEN-E Regulation 2022”), which replaces the previous rules laid down in Regulation No. 347/2013 (the “TEN-E Regulation 2013”) that aimed to improve security of supply, market integration, competition and sustainability in the energy sector. The TEN-E Regulation 2022 seeks to better support the modernisation of Europe’s cross-border energy infrastructures and the EU Green Deal objectives.
The three most important things you need to know about the TEN-E Regulation 2022:
- Projects may qualify as Projects of Common Interest (“PCI”) and be selected on an EU list if (i) they fall within the identified priority corridors and (ii) help achieve EU’s overall energy and climate policy objectives in terms of security of supply and decarbonisation. The TEN-E Regulation 2022 updates its priority corridors to address the EU Green Deal objectives, while extending their scope to include projects connecting the EU with third countries, namely Projects of Mutual Interest (“PMI”).
- PCIs and PMIs on the EU list must be given priority status to ensure rapid administrative and judicial treatment.
- PCIs and PMIs will be eligible for EU financial assistance. Member States will also be able to grant financial support subject to State aid rules.
On April 20, 2022, the cybersecurity authorities of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—the so-called “Five Eye” governments—announced the publication of Alert AA22-110A, a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory (the “Advisory”) warning critical infrastructure organizations throughout the world that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could expose them “to increased malicious cyber activity from Russian state-sponsored cyber actors or Russian-aligned cybercrime groups.” The Advisory is intended to update a January 2022 Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, which provided an overview of Russian state-sponsored cyber operations and tactics, techniques, and procedures (“TTPs”).
In its announcement, the authorities urged critical infrastructure network defenders in particular “to prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats by hardening their cyber defenses” as recommended in the Advisory.Continue Reading International Cybersecurity Authorities Issue Joint Advisory on Russian Cyber Threats to Critical Infrastructure
In wrapping up our three-month long series on the ABCs of the AJP that commenced on Earth Day, we offer some final reflections on the progress and outlook for this monumental public policy initiative.
Continue Reading Not Broken, Simply Unfinished – What’s Next for the AJP?
This is the twenty-sixth post in our series on “The ABCs of the AJP.”
As we wrap up our blog series on the climate and energy implications of the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan (AJP), it is an opportune moment to revisit our journey from A through Z, and reflect on whether the Biden Administration’s proposed investment in infrastructure can set the nation on a path to achieve its 2050 net-zero target.
Continue Reading Zeroing-In on Net-Zero Emissions
This is the twenty-fourth in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”
In 2020 alone, the United States suffered 22 separate extreme weather and climate-related disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, for a total of more than $100 billion in losses. That staggering statistic is not an anomaly, as climate change continues to result in more and more extreme weather events every year. For example, the Texas freeze that rocked the state earlier this year and killed more than one hundred people, also shut down the state’s significant petrochemical industry, disrupting supply chains nationwide, and caused an estimated $80 billion to $130 billion in direct and indirect economic losses. Hundreds of deaths are attributed to the unprecedented and record-breaking heat wave of the Pacific Northwest, and a British Columbia village where the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada was devastated by wildfire. Taking into account these and other weather-related tragedies, the losses become inestimable on a human scale.
Continue Reading X-Treme Weather and the Need for Climate Resiliency