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

In parts one and two of our series on President Biden’s infrastructure plan, we have discussed infrastructure resilience, remediation, green technologies, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Today, we focus on a central theme woven into President Biden’s proposal: equity and environmental justice.

Many of President Biden’s proposals fall into several of the four areas of federal policy intervention that environmental research institution Resources for the Future has identified as necessary for a fair transition to greener technology: workforce development and labor standards, economic development, environmental remediation and infrastructure, and public benefits. The summaries below include some of that overlap.
Continue Reading Biden Infrastructure Proposal Prioritizes Equity and Environmental Justice

We have previously blogged about President Biden’s infrastructure plan released in late March. The sweeping $2 trillion plan provides a blueprint designed to strengthen America’s infrastructure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This goal was also highlighted in the president’s recent discretionary spending request to Congress, requesting $1.8 billion in programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which EPA Administrator Michael Regan called “historic investments to tackle the climate crisis[.]”

In three principal areas — research and development, vehicle emissions, and building improvements — the Biden plan pushes to spur technological advancement and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Continue Reading Biden Infrastructure Proposal Plants Seeds for a Greener Tomorrow

President Biden’s sweeping infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, takes a broad view of what constitutes infrastructure and tackles many of the issues President Biden highlighted in his campaign, including climate change, the state of the country’s traditional infrastructure, and social inequality. The massive $2 trillion plan creates incentives and opportunities for utilities and other entities in the energy sector to remediate legacy sites and pivot toward a more resilient and greener energy infrastructure.
Continue Reading American Jobs Plan Targets Resilience, Green Tech, and Remediation to Strengthen Crumbling Infrastructure

In one of the latest developments in the Biden administration’s recent initiatives to strengthen environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts in the United States, the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced last week that it would not enforce a final rule requiring fiduciaries subject to ERISA to evaluate investment opportunities based upon financial performance factors, rather than ESG metrics. The DOL stated that the final rule “created a perception that fiduciaries are at risk if they include any environmental, social and governance factors in the financial evaluation of plan investments.”
Continue Reading DOL Will Not Enforce ESG-Related Final Rule

Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the creation of a new 22-person Climate and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Task Force in its Division of Enforcement, a notable development in a series of recent steps taken by the Biden administration focused on increasing ESG accountability.
Continue Reading New SEC Task Force Further Demonstrates Biden Administration’s Sharp Focus on Climate and ESG Issues

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

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