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Energy

U.S. Senate Approves $369 Billion to Address Climate Change

The compromise – the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 – was announced on July 27, 2022 by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and by a 51:50 party-line vote survived the August 6-7 “vote-a-rama” gauntlet in the full Senate. Calling it the “single biggest climate investment in U.S. history,” with a goal of reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. by up to 40% by 2030, the legislative summary says the bill will:

Proposition 65 Remains a Significant Cost of Consumer Products Business

For companies in the supply chain for consumer products sold in California, the California law known as Proposition 65 is well worth considering. Private enforcement of Prop. 65 is so widespread that many companies have been forced to learn about this law. For those still unaware of Prop. 65 and those aware but hoping they will not be targeted, taking proactive steps to address the law is likely the most economical path forward, both financially and in terms of company resource drain and stress.

Summary of CISA Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce 3.0

On April 17, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released version 3.0 of its guidance to help state and local jurisdictions, decision makers in communities and jurisdictions and the private sector across the country to manage and identify their essential workforce while responding to COVID-19. Original guidance was released on March 19, 2020 and version 2.0 was subsequently released on March 28, 2020. The reason for publishing Version 3.0 of the CISA guidance was to assist local decision makers in balancing public health and safety with the need to maintain critical infrastructure in their communities.

Federal Court Halts Wetland Permitting – Nationwide Permit 12 (Utility Activities)

Pipeline companies, utilities, engineers, builders and land developers, and other construction companies that rely on Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 for utility line and trenching activities in and around potential wetland areas will need to carefully re-evaluate their ability to conduct work under this general permitting tool.  This is because on April 15, 2020, a federal district court vacated NWP 12 and determined that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had not adequately considered impacts in issuing the 2017 permit under the federal Endangered Species Act.  As a result of this court ruling, pipeline and utility infrastructure projects that rely on NWP 12 may be impacted.

Colorado Mining Operations Face Temporary Cessation Roadblock

Case of First Impression Overturns Mined Land Reclamation Board Ruling

On July 25, 2019, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed a ruling of the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board (“MLRB” or “agency”) which had authorized a second period of temporary cessation for a uranium mine.  The Court in Information Network for Responsible Mining, Earthworks, and Sheep Mountain Alliance v. Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board was asked to determine if the agency properly authorized a “second period of temporary cessation” which would allow the mining permit issued by the MLRB to remain in effect.

Colorado Oil and Gas Development – State Supreme Court Upholds COGCC Decision in Martinez Case

In a unanimous decision which resolved more than five years of dispute, the Colorado Supreme Court on January 14, 2019 upheld the decision of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC) which had refused to engage in rulemaking proposed by environmental groups. Led by the so-called teenage activist Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced Shoe-Tez-Caht) Martinez, the activists proposed a rule that would have conditioned all new oil and gas development on a finding of no cumulative adverse impacts to public health and the environment.  Responding to the rulemaking petition which was originally submitted in 2013, the COGCC said the rulemaking was beyond its statutory authority; on appeal, the district court agreed with the agency; and then the Court of Appeals, in a split decision, reversed. 

Trump Administration EPA to Focus Criminal Enforcement on Significant and Egregious Violators, Citing 1994 “Devaney Memorandum”

A high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement official in the Trump Administration recently cited a 1994 memorandum by Earl Devaney, then Director of EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, as presenting guiding principles to select cases for criminal enforcement of environmental violations. The January 12, 1994, memorandum, “Exercise of Enforcement Discretion,” is often referred to as the “Devaney Memorandum,” and it is available at this link:  https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/exercise.pdf. This may signal that criminal enforcement of environmental laws under the Trump Administration will be limited to situations in which there has been significant actual or threatened environmental harm and truly culpable conduct.