Environmental justice remains a top concern for the Biden Administration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently highlighted in its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan (Strategic Plan) that it intends to enhance use of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “embed environmental justice and civil rights in the Agency’s core work” and to “strengthen civil rights enforcement in communities overburdened by pollution.”

Continue Reading EPA Places Environmental Justice Front and Center

As illustrated by our previous coverage here, here, and here, the scope of the federal government’s enforcement power under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has been an ever-evolving source of litigation and confusion for industries across the country. Continue Reading Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Input on Developing Migratory Bird Permit Program

We previously blogged here, here, and here about President Biden’s infrastructure plan, first proposed in March 2021. On August 10, 2021, the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that included many pieces of President Biden’s plan, but also contained numerous revisions, reflective of the compromises necessary to pass this ambitious legislation in the Senate.

The Senate approved bill scaled down Biden’s infrastructure plan—from $2,600 billion to $550 billion, cutting investments in research and development, clean energy tax credits, public buildings including schools and homes, and home- and community-based care. Here’s what the Senate bill included and what it cut. Continue Reading The Senate Approved a $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill: Here’s What it Funds

Courts exist to adjudicate claimed harms. However, not every court can hear every claim. A recent D.C. district court decision in Jam v. Int’l Fin. Corp. emphasizes how difficult it can be for international plaintiffs to bring U.S. lawsuits for torts occurring abroad. The key holding in Jam – similar to other recent cases – is that just because a corporation makes general decisions about financing or operations in the United States does not mean every plaintiff can sue them in this country for harms occurring abroad. These cases’ holdings indicate that U.S. courts are limiting plaintiffs’ ability to bring suits for tortious activity abroad. As a result, many tort cases focused on international harms likely can be dismissed when the case’s only nexus to the United States is general corporate decision making. Continue Reading International Plaintiffs’ Suit Jammed for Lack of Jurisdiction: District Court Precludes Plaintiffs’ Claims for Overseas Harms

As part of the Biden administration’s 100-day evaluation of U.S. supply chains, in June the Department of Defense (DoD) issued its review of certain “strategic and critical materials” that are key ingredients in electronics and green technologies. Supply chain resiliency is an increasingly important area of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) focus for companies and stakeholders alike, and the DoD’s review has implications for ESG reporting. Continue Reading How Manufacturers Can Improve Supply Chain Sustainability Based on New DoD Recommendations

We often think that environmental regulation comes top-down from Congress and Washington bureaucrats. But that isn’t always the case, as the recent California federal district court decision in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley illustrates. The court there rejected a preemption challenge to a California municipal ordinance banning the installation of natural gas piping in new construction. The decision demonstrates the need for the regulated community to engage on all levels — federal, state, and local. Federal law does not control every aspect of many regulatory areas. Rather, states and localities continue to have some ability to regulate areas touched by federal statutes and regulations. Continue Reading California Court Upholds Local Ordinance Precluding Installation of Natural Gas Piping in New Construction

Of course elections matter, and executive branch changes may bring real and meaningful policy change.  But the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) limits the executive branch’s discretion to shape policy by requiring that policy changes be accompanied by a “reasoned explanation” generally set forth in an administrative record. A recent Ninth Circuit decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. Haaland — addressing Trump Administration changes to federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings — illustrates the guardrails the APA imposes that apply to all executive decision-making. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Decision on Pacific Walrus Illustrates Executive Branch Limits

On April 27, the Biden administration announced new proposed infrastructure initiatives that may enable developers to finally break ground on their “shovel-ready” transmission line projects, including over $8 billion in financing tools from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the administration’s effort to develop low-carbon energy. On the same day, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) also issued new guidance on how federal and state agencies can work together to approve developers looking to use the land running alongside highways, known as the federal highway right-of-way (ROW), for construction of power transmission, clean-energy, and connectivity projects. Continue Reading Biden Administration Infrastructure Plan Could Jumpstart “Shovel-Ready” High-Voltage Transmission Line Projects

Stakeholders have made clear that corporate responsibility is not just a fad or a slogan. With increasing data showing that sustainable investing opportunities can mitigate risk and deliver strong returns, environmental, social, and governance has quickly become an integral part of a company’s reporting and a significant factor in successful business deals.

Schiff Hardin today launched its new ESG team to help companies develop appropriate disclosures and institutional programs that incorporate ESG principles, including climate change, supply chain resiliency/disruption, water use, waste and recycling, environmental and energy justice, human rights, diversity, equity and inclusion, board composition, executive compensation, and anti-corruption. Continue Reading Schiff’s New ESG Team

On April 29, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker released proposed legislation, SB2896 and HB4074, to set statewide minimum, uniform standards for wind farms and ground-mounted solar energy systems, including setback requirements, height restrictions, and landscape buffer requirements, while maintaining local authority over permitting and final project approval. Currently, Illinois counties have the authority to set all standards and siting procedures for wind and solar energy facilities. Continue Reading Illinois Bill Proposes Statewide Standards for Solar, Wind Farm Energy Facilities