Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law

A team of Schiff Hardin attorneys compiled “Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law” for the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal originally published in the winter of 2016 (Vol. 51-2) on the evolving landscape of the environmental and toxic tort areas of law. Toxic tort-related topics covered by this article include the growing judicial rejection of the “any exposure” causation theory, heightened party disclosure rules in asbestos litigation, and federal preemption of the Engle Phase I jury findings. Continue Reading

EPA’s Final Regulation on Oil & Gas Industry Nears Publication

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to issue its final rule establishing for the first time by regulation the standard by which emissions from separate sources in the oil and gas sector are aggregated under the Clean Air Act (the Aggregation Rule). On April 7, 2016, EPA sent the final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The regulation will likely become effective in June 2016 after OMB completes its review. Continue Reading

CFTC and SEC Approves Proposed Guidance on Regulatory Treatment of Certain Electric Power and Natural Gas Contracts

On April 4, 2016, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that it had unanimously approved proposed guidance regarding the appropriate treatment of certain electric power and natural gas contracts under the definition of the term “swap.” Continue Reading

CFTC and EPA sign Memorandum of Understanding on Renewable Fuel Markets

A slowly developing renewable fuels market, several well-publicized fraud cases, and EPA’s delayed volumetric designations that frustrated industry participants have led EPA and the CFTC to a new era of cooperation. On March 17, 2016, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that they would share Renewable Fuel Standard data and analysis pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Under the MOU, the CFTC and EPA can share information and conduct joint or separate investigations into potential fraud, market abuse, deceptive practices, commodity market manipulation, or other violations relating to the generation of, and trading in, Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). Continue Reading

Small Generators May Soon Be Required to “Ride Through” System Disturbances

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to revise its pro forma Small Generator Interconnection Agreement (SGIA). The new rule would require small generators (those that are 20 MW or less) to “ride through” through or to stay connected to and synchronized with the transmission system during a system disturbance. Continue Reading

FERC Issues a Notice of Inquiry on Primary Frequency Response

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment on the need for reforms regarding the provision of and compensation for primary frequency response. The NOI notes that fewer generation resources may currently be providing primary frequency response than in the past. The Commission expects this trend to continue as more Variable Energy Resources (VER), such as solar or wind generators, are integrated into the nation’s electric grid. As the Commission explained, the NOI is necessary due to the significance of primary frequency response to the reliable operation of the electric grid. Continue Reading

Climate Change Regulation – Locally Grown

iStock_000005629500_Large_BWInternational agreements like the Paris Climate Agreement and federal regulations like the Clean Power Plan dominate news reports about climate change.  But cities are increasingly taking the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  In fact, many U.S. cities have set emissions reduction targets that are far more aggressive than federal goals.  For example, the Chicago Climate Action Plan sets a target of 25% below 1990 GHG emissions by 2020.  While cities initially focused on voluntary measures, regulatory powers are increasingly used to reduce emissions.  These regulations—which so far include emissions reporting requirements and building efficiency standards—may affect a wide variety of businesses in cities across the country. Continue Reading

Aircraft Emissions Rules Take Flight

iStock_000011889869_Medium_BWOn Monday, February 8, 2015, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposed new limits on airplane greenhouse gas emissions.  This announcement marks the second step in a process that may eventually lead to regulation of airplane greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Continue Reading

As Gas Leaks, Pressure for Regulation Builds

Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility has been leaking natural gas since October 23, 2015. Company officials have recently announced that a relief well is nearly finished and the leak will soon be plugged. However, for the natural gas industry as a whole, the legal and regulatory challenges have just begun. Continue Reading

Supreme Court Stays Clean Power Plan

On February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision staying implementation of the Clean Power Plan until the D.C. Circuit rules on challenges to the Plan. The Court left open the possibility that it would review the D.C. Circuit’s ultimate decision.

The decision delays President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The Clean Power Plan is its key climate change rule. It requires states and utilities to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by generating less electricity from coal, and more from lower carbon-emitting sources like natural gas, or zero-carbon sources like solar and wind. The Plan has an ambitious goal: to reduce CO2 emissions 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. Continue Reading

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