Environment, Land & Resources

UK Government Launches 25-Year Environment Plan

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, Contaminated Properties & Waste

Long-awaited 25-year environment plan aims to “restore” nature and eliminate plastic waste.

By Paul Davies and Michael Green

The UK government has announced its long-awaited 25-year environment plan (the ‘Plan’).

Having originally said it would publish the Plan by the end of 2016, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) subsequently delayed the release, raising concerns that the Plan might not come to fruition until after Brexit. In 2017, Defra requested input from the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), which was duly published in September of last year. The NCC suggested a number of ambitious goals that should be included in the Plan, such as the remediation of all historical land contamination and that air quality throughout the UK should meet international health-based standards. Continue Reading

Governor Cuomo Announces Ambitious Clean Energy Agenda for New York

Posted in Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals, Project Siting and Approval

By Tommy Beaudreau, Janice Schneider, and David Amerikaner

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released the 2018 Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Agenda last week as the 20th proposal of his 2018 State of the State address. The far-reaching proposal charts a path forward for further progress in advancing clean energy in New York this year, and beyond.

In particular, the agenda intends to promote clean energy development, combat climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reductions in greenhouse gas caps, additional goals for offshore wind development, and investments in energy infrastructure and storage, as well as other initiatives. This agenda supplements New York’s previously adopted commitment to generate 50% of the state’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030. Continue Reading

Strong End of 2017 for Oil and Gas on Federal Lands and Waters in Alaska

Posted in Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals, Project Siting and Approval

By Tommy Beaudreau and Janice Schneider

Alaska is kicking off 2018 following several major developments related to oil and gas exploration and production on federal lands on the North Slope, both onshore and on the offshore outer continental shelf (OCS).

In May 2017, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Alaska and declared that “the path for energy dominance is a path through the great state of Alaska.” While in Alaska, Secretary Zinke unveiled Secretarial Order 3352 “National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska,” which called for:

  • Re-evaluating the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Integrated Activity Plan for the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A) with an eye toward promoting oil and gas leasing and development in the NPR-A.
  • Developing updated oil and gas resource assessments for Alaska’s North Slope, focusing on federal lands in the NPR-A and the Section 1002 Area (the 1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Continue Reading

Climate Action 100+: Global Investors Continue Focus on Climate Change Disclosure

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change

By Joshua BledsoeSara Orr, and Bobbi-Jo Dobush

Major investors with collective control of more than US$26.3 trillion are continuing to push for an increase in public companies’ governance, oversight, and disclosure of climate-related risk. Unveiled on December 12, 2017 at the One Planet Summit in Paris, the Climate Action 100+ is designed to promote the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement provides a global action plan to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

A group of 225 investors, led by California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and other major investors, have signed on to the Climate Action 100+ since the invitation to join was issued in September 2017. The signatories will be led by five coordinating partners including Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), Ceres; Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Continue Reading

California Continues to Drive Toward Lower NOx Standards for Heavy-Duty Diesels

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, California

By Arthur Foerster and Jamie Friedland

On January 12, 2018, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will conduct a public workshop regarding CARB staff’s potential amendments to California’s heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) emission warranty requirements. According to CARB staff, the workshop will focus on potential changes to Title 13, California Code of Regulations, Section 2036, and specifically, amendments to required emission warranty periods and manufacturer-scheduled maintenance. CARB staff will present the workshop as a webcast (available here).


Under United States law, the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) generally preempts individual states from adopting their own emission standards. The Act, however, grants California the ability to seek authorization to set the state’s own more stringent standards. See 42 U.S.C. § 7543(b). Manufacturers generally prefer a single national standard and, as a practical matter, often follow CARB standards when they are stricter. Continue Reading

DOI Identifies Burdens to Energy Development on US Tribal Land

Posted in Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals, Project Siting and Approval

By Janice M. Schneider, Tommy P. Beaudreau, Stacey L. VanBelleghem, and Nikki Buffa

Stakeholders interested in energy development on US tribal lands will welcome recent Department of Interior (DOI) efforts that identify a key burden to energy development on these lands — as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA’s) plans to address it. DOI issued the Review of the Department of the Interior Actions that Potentially Burden Domestic Energy report (DOI Burden Report) in response to Executive Order (EO) 13783, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, which required agencies to evaluate and report on all existing agency actions that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.” (For more on the DOI Burden Report, please see this November 2017 Latham & Watkins Client Alert.)

The BIA, a federal agency within DOI, is charged with managing trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. As BIA noted in the DOI Burden Report, royalty income from energy production on tribal lands totaled US$534 million in 2016 and constitutes the largest source of revenue generated from tribal trust lands. BIA identified its existing regulations governing Tribal Energy Resource Agreements (TERAs) as a policy that potentially burdens domestic energy. Continue Reading

China Launches Ambitious National Emissions Trading System

Posted in China

By Paul Davies, Andrew Westgate, and Bridget Reineking

China’s chief economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has today announced the launch of its national Emissions Trading System (ETS). The ETS is an ambitious effort that likely will surpass every other emissions trading system in the world, including that of the European Union.

Many observers anticipated that China would launch the national ETS at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the Paris Agreement in Bonn, Germany, in November 2017. However, Chinese officials at COP 23 merely previewed that the national ETS still required government approval. The delay in launching the national ETS likely stems from the system’s logistical challenges, including the following:

  • The need for timely and comprehensive emissions data for each industrial sector covered by the system
  • Issues relating to the determination of consistent methods for setting benchmarks for free allowances
  • Coordinating utilization of offset credits to satisfy compliance obligations during the initial compliance period

Continue Reading

BOEM Renewable Energy Task Force Discusses Potential New Wind Energy Areas Offshore New York

Posted in Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals, Project Siting and Approval

By Tommy Beaudreau, Janice Schneider, and David Amerikaner

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) convened the Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force for the New York Bight to discuss BOEM’s draft Call for Information and Nominations (Call) on December 4, 2017. The meeting, which was held via a webinar, marked an important step in the process to identify potential new wind energy areas (WEAs) in federal waters off of New York. BOEM plans to publish the Call in the Federal Register for formal public comment in late January or early February 2018 after considering inter-governmental input on the draft Call areas. With publication of the Call, BOEM will initiate the area identification process to delineate up to four potential new WEAs in the New York Bight, each with the estimated potential to generate at least 800 megawatts of electricity in support of the state’s renewable energy goals.

BOEM issued the draft Call, including the four new potential WEAs, in response to the New York State Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) request to review proposed WEAs in the waters off New York and to expedite the permitting process for offshore wind development. More information, including maps of New York’s Area for Consideration, is available on NYSERDA’s website.

New York is prioritizing the development of renewable energy, and adopted a Clean Energy Standard (CES) in 2016. The CES mandates that 50% of New York’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, with a phase-in schedule beginning in 2017. Offshore wind energy stands to play a key role in meeting New York’s CES goals, which include a target of 2.4 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power. New York is currently preparing an offshore wind Master Plan that outlines information about project siting and environmental and use conflicts within a 16,740 square-mile study area. The State is expected to issue the Master Plan soon.

Continue Reading

Land Use Sector and CEQA Projects Targeted for Greenhouse Gas Reductions in Proposed Scoping Plan Update

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, California, Project Siting and Approval

By Marc Campopiano and Shannon Cheng

A proposed Scoping Plan Update released by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) targets the land use sector and development projects for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. The proposed update was spurred by the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 32 and Assembly Bill (AB) 398, which codified California’s goal of reducing GHG emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and extended the Cap-and-Trade Program, respectively.

In a shift from prior versions of the Scoping Plan, which largely avoided discussing the California Environmental Quality Act’s (CEQA’s) role in addressing climate impacts from new land use development, ARB recommends that local agencies cut GHG emissions from the land use sector in three key ways: Continue Reading