“Climate change is an emerging threat to the financial stability of the United States.” So begins a recently issued Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) Report, identifying climate change as a financial risk and threat to U.S. financial stability and highlighting a need for coordinated, stable, and clearly communicated policy objectives and actions in order to avoid a disorderly transition to a net-zero economy.

Continue Reading New Report Highlights Need for Coordinated and Consistent U.S. Policy to Address Possible Impacts to Financial Stability Due to Climate Change

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

On January 19, the D.C. Circuit vacated the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE), a rule intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emitted from power plants. Am. Lung Ass’n et al. v. EPA, No. 19-1140. The lengthy opinion touches on numerous issues raised over the last 10 years as EPA has bumped toward the goal of regulating greenhouse gases. The opinion appears to be grounded in EPA’s own assertions, made in this and other rulemakings, that climate change is a grave threat to society and power plants are a significant source of GHGs.
Continue Reading Affordable Clean Energy Rule Vacated

Have a large site ready for renewable energy development in New York? The state is looking for you.

On July 22, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a search for possible sites, requesting information (RFI) from local communities and private parties about prospective sites.
Continue Reading New York Issues RFI for Build-Ready Sites to Host Large-Scale Renewable Energy Developments

The viability of Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 – used to authorize certain actions during utility line construction – is uncertain. After a Montana judge vacated and enjoined the use of the permit nationwide for new oil and gas pipelines,[1] the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) immediately appealed to the Ninth Circuit. In its May 22 brief on the motion to stay the district court’s order imposing the nationwide injunction, the Corps argued that the injunction violated due process and that the order lacked clarity. The Ninth Circuit refused to stay the matter, rejecting these arguments in its most recent order[2] because the Corps had not shown “sufficient likelihood of success on the merits” and “probability of irreparable harm.”
Continue Reading Nationwide Permit 12: The Uncertainty Continues

Federal officials often conduct unannounced, sometimes intrusive inspections of regulated entities, which can be a major disruption to companies’ operations and has historically left them with little to do about it but wait for the interruption to pass – until now. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued two documents aimed at improving the efficiency and normalizing the process of conducting environmental inspections and investigations.
Continue Reading Regulated Entities: It’s Time to Speak Up if You Don’t Like How Federal Agents Come Knocking

The Trillion Trees Initiative was in focus at the January 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos. President Trump endorsed the initiative in his State of the Union address. Companies may want to consider this and other green initiatives as the trend for company sustainability continues to gain traction.
Continue Reading The Trillion Trees Initiative and Sustainability

Chairman Jay Clayton provided his own view of climate disclosure criteria, and two other commission members also provided insight at the end of last month. This indicates that climate disclosure issues are top of mind for members and staff at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The chair indicated that he would continue to rely on the principles that have guided SEC disclosures for decades. For environmental and climate-related issues, the guiding principle of materiality remains the foremost indicator of a disclosure obligation. Climate is one of several issues that the chair notes as “evolving.”
Continue Reading SEC Indicates it Will Not Modify Climate Change Disclosure Criteria

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just signed into law an ambitious statewide climate change agenda – the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA focuses on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction through adoption of renewable energy and energy sector mandates for GHG reductions, although the legislation leaves open the exploration of other means of GHG reduction and the expansion to economy-wide regulation. The legislation also focuses on adaptation mechanisms, including hardening infrastructure to withstand disasters. Commercially, the CLCPA goals present massive investment opportunities to help fund and develop this transformation. But investors are looking for incentives, and it remains unclear how future regulations will encourage future investments, rather than mandate them.
Continue Reading New York’s Landmark Climate Bill Creates Massive Investment Opportunities but with Few Details for Businesses