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

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

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a preliminary step toward requiring limits on some National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into surface water. On March 17, EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA), which seeks public comment on data EPA has collected about certain PFAS discharges to surface water and requests additional information about businesses that make or use these substances (the ANPRM). The public has until May 17, 2021, to submit comments.
Continue Reading EPA Considering Revised Effluent Limitations Guideline Relating to PFAS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently progressed its effort to stymie the aftermarket tuning of vehicles used for racing and competition in a complaint alleging that Gear Box Z violated the Clean Air Act by selling certain types of aftermarket software that modifies the engine control module (ECM), among other practices. EPA’s action is part of its national mobile source enforcement initiative to prevent the manufacturing, sale, and installation of aftermarket tuning and emission control defeat devices, in which EPA has pursued enforcement against both large and small suppliers.
Continue Reading EPA Reinforces Position that Certain Types of ECM Changes in Road-Certified Vehicles Constitute “Tampering” Under the Clean Air Act

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