Environment, Land & Resources

CARB Updates Proposal to Amend SF6 Regulation: Stricter Requirements for California Electrical Equipment

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, California

CARB’s revised discussion draft removes a previously proposed de minimis exemption for owners of SF6 GIE.

By Aron Potash and Christopher C. Antonacci

On August 15, 2019, California Air Resources Board (CARB) staff published a revised discussion draft (Revised Draft) of potential changes to the Regulation for Reducing Sulfur Hexafluoride Emissions from Gas Insulated Switchgear (SF6 Regulation). The Revised Draft takes into account comments received from stakeholders in the past several months. Notably, it proposes several significant changes to the SF6 Regulation, including removing a previously proposed de minimis exemption to compliance with the SF6 Regulation emissions limit and revising the phase-out schedule for SF6 gas-insulated equipment (GIE). Latham & Watkins examined the previous discussion draft in this March 4, 2019, blog post.

CARB held a workshop in Sacramento the same day it released the Revised Draft, during which staff presented an overview of the changes, answered stakeholders’ questions, and solicited any questions or concerns stakeholders may have. CARB is accepting public comments on the Revised Draft through August 29, 2019.

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EPA to Cease Issuing CBI Notices of Deficiency Under TSCA

Posted in Environmental Regulation

EPA’s new policy may result in public disclosure of confidential business information if confidentiality is not properly claimed.

By Julia A. Hatcher, Ann Claassen, and Stijn van Osch

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on July 15, 2019 that, beginning August 15, 2019, EPA would no longer provide notices of deficiency to businesses that submit procedurally flawed confidential business information (CBI) claims under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Instead, EPA will only send a notice that the agency does not consider such information confidential, and will make such information available to the public. This policy change, which EPA published in the Federal Register on July 16, means that businesses should take care to provide complete and accurate substantiation for CBI, or risk public disclosure of confidential information. Continue Reading

Emissions Trading: EC Proposes Key Amendments to the Auctioning Regulation

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, Energy Regulatory

The public consultation on adjusting the GHG emission allowance auction process for 2021-2030 is open for comment until August 6.

By Joern Kassow and Alexander Wilhelm

In order to deepen cooperation in the energy sector and to build up a stronger Energy Union, the European Parliament and the Council revised Directive 2003/87/EC (ETS Directive) in March 2018 to implement the ambitious targets of the 2030 EU Climate and Energy Framework. The European Commission (EC) therefore plans to adjust the rules on auctioning greenhouse gas (GHG) emission allowances to maintain pace with these recent EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) developments. Prior to adopting a Delegated Regulation to amend Regulation (EU) No 1031/2010 (Auctioning Regulation), the EC is inviting comments on the draft until August 6, 2019. Continue Reading

How the Friant Ranch Decision Continues to Impact CEQA Compliance

Posted in California, CEQA, Environmental Litigation, Project Siting and Approval

A new webcast reveals the latest trends and approaches to CEQA compliance as the development and environmental communities react to changing law.

By Marc T. Campopiano, Christopher W. Garrett, and Jennifer K. Roy

On July 24, 2019, Latham & Watkins’ Project Siting & Approvals Practice hosted a 60-minute webcast, “Friant Ranch: Impact of California Supreme Court’s Landmark Decision on CEQA Compliance,” to zero in on the landmark decision and its ramifications. Seven months on from the Court’s decision in Sierra Club v. County of Fresno (Friant Ranch, L.P.), the influence of the Court’s ruling is beginning to crystallize. The webcast’s speakers addressed the response to the Court’s decision among reviewing courts and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) practitioners, with a focus on the Court’s holdings regarding:

  • The proper standard of review to be applied when courts review an agency’s analysis under CEQA
  • The need for a CEQA lead agency to correlate a project’s significant air quality impacts with potential human health impacts
  • The propriety of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) allowing for the substitution of more effective mitigation measures in the future

CEQA practitioners must have a solid understanding of the Friant Ranch decision, as it will continue to affect CEQA litigation and EIR preparation.

View the webcast or download the presentation slides on-demand at any time by registering here.

US House Financial Services Committee Holds Landmark Hearing on ESG Reporting

Posted in Environmental Regulation

Building a sustainable and competitive economy: an examination of proposals to improve ESG disclosures.

By James R. Barrett, Paul A. Davies and Kristina S. Wyatt

The US House Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets has held the first ever US Congressional hearing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. The hearing focused on reporting requirements for US public companies in response to increasing interest in the investor community for enhanced ESG disclosures and uniform reporting standards.

The hearing follows on the heels of the UK’s announcement that all listed companies and large asset owners will be required to report on climate-related information in line with the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The hearing also follows the EU’s adoption of requirements that financial professionals provide information on the incorporation of ESG criteria into their financial management processes. Continue Reading

China Publishes Public Consultation on Environmental Protection Regulations for Construction Projects

Posted in China, Environmental Regulation, Project Siting and Approval

MEE Opinions aim to clarify application of laws, expand the scope of illegal behaviour, and introduce new administrative penalties.

By Paul A. Davies and R. Andrew Westgate

The Department of Laws, Regulations, and Standards of China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) recently issued a notice of Public Consultation for the Opinions on Several Issues on the Application of Laws concerning Administrative Penalties for the Illegal Activities of “Production before Final Acceptance” (the 2019 Public Consultation).

This blog will discuss the background to the 2019 Public Consultation, and the MEE Opinions that aim to clarify application of laws, expand the scope of illegal behavior, and introduce new Administrative Penalties. Continue Reading

ECJ Decision Examines Definition of ‘Waste’ for Transboundary Consignments

Posted in Contaminated Properties & Waste, Environmental Litigation, Environmental Regulation, European Environmental and Public Law

ECJ Decision Examines Definition of ‘Waste’ for Transboundary Consignments

Request for preliminary ruling from the Hague Court of Appeal confirms that the concepts of “waste” and “discard” must be interpreted broadly.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently handed down its judgment in response to a request for a preliminary ruling in criminal proceedings against Tronex BV (Case C-624/17), a Dutch wholesaler of residual consignments of electronic goods. The case concerns the transboundary shipment of electronic and electrical appliances to a third party in Tanzania.

This blog will examine the legislative framework and facts underpinning the case, and the ECJ’s discussion and decision. Continue Reading

EPA Will Not Require Financial Assurances From Electric Power Sector

Posted in Energy Regulatory, Environmental Regulation

EPA’s decision to forego financial requirements will likely face opposition by eNGOs.

By Claudia M. O’Brien and Stacey L. VanBelleghem

On July 2, 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposed decision not to impose new financial responsibility requirements on the Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution industry under Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), following nearly a decade of litigation, stakeholder input, and EPA assessment.

Section 108(b) and EPA’s Path to This Decision

CERLCA imposes a joint and several liability scheme that holds certain entities (e.g., certain owners and operators, generators, arrangers, and transporters of hazardous substances) liable for the costs or damages associated with environmental remediation. Section 108(b) of CERCLA authorizes EPA[i] to develop regulations requiring owners or operators of certain “classes of facilities [to] establish and maintain evidence of financial responsibility consistent with the degree and duration of risk associated with the production, transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous substances.” Section 108(b)(2) identifies factors to consider to determine the level of financial assurances necessary in light of the level of risk. These factors include:  “the payment experience of the [Hazardous Substance Superfund], commercial insurers, courts settlements and judgments, and voluntary claims satisfaction.” Continue Reading