Environment, Land & Resources

China’s Global Supergrid to Enable Free Flow of Electricity Internationally

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, China, Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals, Project Siting and Approval

The proposed initiative will allow the provision of clean energy on a global scale by 2050.

By Paul A. Davies and R. Andrew Westgate

The Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) initiative, originally developed by Liu Zhenya, the chairman of the Chinese State Grid Corporation, is dedicated to promoting global energy interconnections in a sustainable manner.

The GEI is proposed to take the form of a backbone grid, first throughout Asia and then expanding globally. The first phase would consist of six ultra-high voltage grids that span the Asian continent, which GEI estimates will require a US$38 trillion investment.[1]

The GEI is part of the broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is a Chinese state-backed program that intends to boost trade and economic growth across Asia through the development of infrastructure projects. China Development Bank, China’s primary policy-based lending institution, has already granted US$160 billion in loans to countries involved in the BRI process. Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Overturns Specific Plan EIR for Inadequate Air Quality Impact Mitigation

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, California, CEQA

By Christopher H. Norton, Lucas I. Quass, and Derek Galey

CEQA Case Report: Understanding the Judicial Landscape for Development[I]

In an unpublished opinion issued July 10, 2018, Sierra Club v. County of Kern, Case No. F071133, the California Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded for the issuance of a new writ of mandate directing the County of Kern (County) to address the improper deferral of mitigation measures for air quality impacts in the Kern River Valley Specific Plan’s (Specific Plan) Environmental Impact Report (EIR). In summary, the court determined:

  • The EIR’s analysis of the long-term significance of the Specific Plan’s greenhouse gas emissions was adequate at its time of release in 2011.
  • The EIR’s approach to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions was not a prejudicial abuse of discretion.
  • CEQA does not require greater than a 1:1 mitigation ratio for the amount of farmland to be placed under an agricultural conservation easement or similar program.
  • County violated CEQA by deferring the formulation of air quality mitigation measures without firmly committing to specific performance standards.

Continue Reading

China Reinforces Renewable Energy Commitment With Significant European Wind Investments

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals, Project Siting and Approval

Chinese investors continue to build knowledge of the wind sector through European investment.

By Paul A. Davies and R. Andrew Westgate

China has traditionally focused more on developing coal and hydroelectric power, which provide relatively constant output, instead of wind and solar, which depend on whether conditions. However, recently, government-owned power producers have begun making significant investments in large wind projects in Europe, indicating a potential shift in the breadth of China’s commitment to an energy policy that is both global and renewable.

In fact, a recent Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEFA) report has shown that China now invests more in European wind projects than in Australian projects, which in recent years had received substantial amounts of money from China. Notably, Chinese private and state sectors invested US$6.8 billion in European wind projects from 2011 to 2017 compared with US$5 billion in Australia. Continue Reading

How to Prepare for California’s Updated Prop 65 Regulations … 60-Second Overview

Posted in California, Water Quality and Supply

Companies may need to carefully consider practical business concerns to comply with the updated Prop 65 regulations, effective August 30.

By Michael G. Romey, Lucas I. Quass, and James A. Erselius

New regulations governing the implementation of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Prop 65) will go into effect on August 30, 2018 that apply to products manufactured after the operative date of August 30, 2018. The new regulations update the content of the Prop 65 warning label that appears on products, in addition to other substantive changes.

Below is one example of how the new warning may look; however, the exact content will depend on the specifics of the exposure in question. Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Rejects City’s MND in Historic District Due to Aesthetic and Traffic Impacts

Posted in California, CEQA, Project Siting and Approval

CEQA Case Report: Understanding the Judicial Landscape for Development[I]

By Winston P. Stromberg, Lucas Quass and Christopher Adam Martinez

In an opinion published on August 9, 2018, Protect Niles v. City of Fremont, Case No. A151645, the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s issuance of a writ of mandate ordering the City of Fremont (the City) to overturn a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) and prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for an 85-unit residential and retail development in a historical district (the Project).

In summary, the court determined:

  • A project’s visual impact on an officially designated historical district is appropriate to review as a potential aesthetic impact under CEQA.
  • The City’s Historical Architectural Review Board members’ collective opinions about the compatibility of the Project with the Niles Historical Overlay District are substantial evidence of the Project’s potentially significant aesthetic impacts.
  • Residents’ personal observations of traffic conditions where they live and commute may constitute substantial evidence, even if residents’ accounts contradict the conclusions of a professional traffic study.

Continue Reading

Viewpoints Video Examines California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, California, Environmental Regulation, Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals, Project Siting and Approval

Harvard professor Robert Stavins joins Latham partner Bob Wyman to review key climate change mitigation policies.

California’s climate change mitigation program is widely viewed as one of the most comprehensive of its kind — encompassing a cap-and-trade component and a series of complementary measures with specific performance targets for important sectors such as motor vehicles, transportation fuels, power plants, and emissions related to land use decisions.

In this Viewpoints video, Latham partner Bob Wyman, a leader in the firm’s Environment, Land & Resources Department, discusses unique aspects of the California program with Harvard University professor Robert Stavins, the A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy & Economic Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The two veterans of climate change policy explore the purpose and design of climate change programs in California and globally that deliver environmental performance at lower cost, and they explain key terms such as a price ceiling, “speed bumps,” and the banking of carbon emissions allowances.

Latham Viewpoints is a video series spotlighting hot topics in the practice and business of law.