Environment, Land & Resources

European Deforestation Regulation Enters Into Force

Posted in Air Quality and Climate Change, Environmental Regulation, European Environmental and Public Law

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]

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What’s Next Following the Supreme Court’s Decision in Sackett v. EPA?

Posted in Environmental Litigation, Project Siting and Approval, Water Quality and Supply

The Court’s decision has prompted the US Army Corps of Engineers to freeze jurisdictional determinations for permitted activities pending additional guidance.

By Michael G. Romey, Lucas Quass, and Peter R. Viola

On May 25, 2023, by a narrow 5-4 majority, the US Supreme Court ruled in Sackett v. EPA that the Clean Water Act (CWA) only extends to wetlands that have a “continuous surface connection” with “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) — the term in the CWA’s definition of “navigable waters” that determines the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (together, the Agencies) over projects and other activities requiring permits to dredge, fill, or discharge into federally protected waters.[1]

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US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Certifies First Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Design

Posted in Energy Regulatory, Power, Oil, Gas and Minerals

The move represents a step forward for the small modular nuclear reactor industry, but legislative uncertainty over new nuclear facilities in the US remains.

By Marc Campopiano, Lucas Quass, and Shawna Strecker

As part of long-range plans to address climate change, many states have adopted policies to spur the transition to a low-carbon future. Renewable sources like solar, wind, and geothermal energy have garnered considerable attention, but nuclear power is the largest domestic source of carbon-free power. Nuclear power plants have supplied about 20% of total annual US electricity since 1990.[1] Yet, even as the US and many states seek to decarbonize their energy sectors, nuclear reactors in the US are being decommissioned because of age, and new nuclear facilities often face public opposition.

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Congress Advances Federal Environmental Permitting Reform in Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023

Posted in Environmental Regulation

The reform mainly focuses on streamlining and narrowing the scope of environmental review at the federal level.

By Janice Schneider, Nikki Buffa, Devin O’Connor, and Kevin Homrighausen

On June 3, 2023, President Biden signed legislation implementing the bipartisan debt ceiling and budget agreement as the “Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.” As part of this legislation, Congress agreed to several federal permitting reform measures, focused largely on amendments to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the potential environmental impacts of discretionary major federal actions (e.g., including issuing permits and granting federal funding) before they are taken. As part of this analysis, agencies must evaluate alternatives to the proposed action and consider mitigation measures, and must provide an opportunity for public input. The scope and detail of NEPA review can affect the contours, timing, and ultimate outcome of federal decision-making and is frequently litigated by project opponents. The new amendments to NEPA in the Fiscal Responsibility Act draw substantially from other proposed legislation and regulatory amendments in recent years. These new provisions are designed to narrow the scope of federal actions that are subject to NEPA, consolidate NEPA review under a single “lead” agency, and impose time and page limits for environmental documents under NEPA, among other changes described below.

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