Air Quality and Climate Change

The US Department of Energy has committed $1 billion to support clean hydrogen offtakers to kickstart the hydrogen economy.

By Joshua T. Bledsoe and Kevin A. Homrighausen

On July 5, 2023, the US Department of Energy (DOE) released a Notice of Intent (NOI) to invest up to $1 billion in a mechanism to develop reliable demand for hydrogen at DOE-funded Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs). DOE hopes this mechanism will help a diverse range of entities leverage the full potential of clean hydrogen and facilitate the use of clean hydrogen across a variety of economic sectors.

The regulation aims to minimise the EU’s contribution to deforestation and forest degradation.

By Paul A. Davies, Michael D. Green, and James Bee

The European Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) entered into force on 29 June 2023, following publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. However, the main requirements and prohibitions of the EUDR will apply from 30 December 2024, 18 months after the entry into force.

The regulation forms part of the European Green Deal (for more information on the Green Deal, refer to Latham’s blog post here), which includes a proposal to ensure EU consumption does not contribute to deforestation and forest degradation. The EUDR will repeal and broaden the scope of the existing EU Timber Regulation.[i]

EPA’s long-awaited proposal would set aggressive emission reduction targets with many different approaches and timelines to achieve them.

By Stacey L. VanBelleghem and Jennifer Garlock

On May 11, 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed rule[1] to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric generating units (EGUs) at power plants under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) (the Power Plant GHG Rule or the Proposed Rule).

The Power Plant GHG Rule consists of five proposed actions:

  1. determinations and updates to current CO2 standards of performance (promulgated in 2015) for new and reconstructed stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired) pursuant to Section 111(b) of the CAA;
  2. determinations and updates to current CO2 standards of performance (promulgated in 2015) for modified fossil fuel-fired steam-generating EGUs (generally coal-fired) pursuant to Section 111(b) of the CAA;
  3. determinations and CO2 emission guidelines for existing fossil fuel-fired steam-generating EGUs (generally coal-fired) pursuant to Section 111(d) of the CAA;
  4. determinations and CO2 emission guidelines for large, frequently used existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired) pursuant to Section 111(d) of the CAA; and
  5. a repeal of the Trump-era Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.

EPA is also soliciting comment on a number of topics, including potential options and emission guidelines for existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines not otherwise covered by the Proposed Rule (generally natural gas-fired units that are either smaller or less frequently used).

A federal court heard motions for summary judgment in challenge to first-in-nation rule requiring warehouses to adopt clean technologies.

By Joshua Bledsoe, Nick Cox, and Jennifer Garlock

On April 17, 2023, a US federal judge heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD or the District) adoption of Rule 2305 and will now decide whether to grant summary judgment to the plaintiffs and vacate the rule.

Rule 2305 is the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule (ISR) — Warehouse Actions and Investments to Reduce Emissions (WAIRE) Program. As described in this June 2021 blog post, the WAIRE Program applies to certain warehouses in the South Coast Air Basin and imposes a compliance obligation based on the number of truck visits to that warehouse per year. Warehouse operators can meet that obligation by taking any number of emissions-reducing actions, either from the “WAIRE Menu” or through a custom plan approved by the District.

The Commission is also consulting on proposed targeted amendments to the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act and on the Taxonomy Disclosures Delegated Act.

By Paul A. DaviesMichael D. Green, and James Bee

On 5 April 2023 the European Commission opened a consultation on its proposal for four additional environmental objectives under the EU Taxonomy Regulation[1] (the Taxonomy), including: (i) sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources; (ii) transition to a circular economy; (iii) pollution prevention and control; and (iv) protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The Commission is seeking feedback on technical screening criteria (TSC) for economic activities that may substantially contribute to one or more of those four environmental objectives. The TSC do not only identify the technical requirements that an activity must meet to be considered to make a substantial contribution to one of these areas, they also specify the conditions by which the activities can be considered to not do any significant harm to the remaining areas.

The Commission has already adopted TSC related to the economic activities of two other environmental objectives: climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.

The Commission is also proposing amendments to the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act, introducing additional activities that may be considered to substantially contribute to climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation, as well as the Taxonomy Disclosures Delegated Act.