On September 21, 2022, the Senate passed the Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol (which had been signed by former President Obama in 2016) by a vote of 69 to 27, reaffirming U.S. commitment to the reduction of hydrofluorocarbons (“HFCs”) through multiple processes (some of which are already causing shifts in import and export markets, as well as in the consumer market).
As an Environmental attorney with an M.S. in Environment, Ecology, and Energy, Leah is among those monitoring and researching legislation, counseling on compliance and negotiating remedies on issues including: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Mine Safety and Health Act, Toxic Substance Control Act, and more. Leah also guides clients on renewable energy issues including matters involving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and state utility commissions.
The already-complicated relationship between wind energy and eagles has taken center stage recently. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is ramping up its efforts to protect bald and golden eagles at development projects across the country, with a massive settlement and plans to revamp the eagle take permitting process by the end of this year.
Continue Reading U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Makes Clear Its Commitment to Eagle Protection with a $35 Million Eagle Death Settlement and Upcoming Changes to Eagle Take Permitting Program
Since the 1970s, the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA” or the “Act”) has required federal agencies to evaluate the environmental impacts of their proposed actions. Although NEPA was widely criticized from both sides, it remained largely unchanged over the last 50 years. Recently, the Trump administration made significant revisions, the first such changes since its enactment. Now the Biden administration is pushing back and seeking to undo some of the Trump era revisions and possibly add a new twist of its own.
Continue Reading A More Stringent NEPA May Be on the Horizon: Implications for Renewable Energy Developments
In the weeks that followed a ransomware attack on a domestic pipeline company, the federal government’s efforts to shore up the cybersecurity posture of America’s critical infrastructure and supply chains, including the oil and gas industry, have garnered increased attention. Historically, the oil and gas sector has not been subject to mandatory cybersecurity regulations, but rather was encouraged to follow voluntary security guidelines that were initially published by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in 2011 and revised in 2018. Yet, the industry sector’s geographic size, number of operators/stakeholders within the sector, and its importance to the national economy make the oil and gas industry an attractive target for cyberattacks.
Each of these factors begs the question whether voluntary cybersecurity measures are sufficient to protect this critical infrastructure component? Based on the TSA’s decision to publish the very first Pipeline Security Directive (“Directive”) three weeks after Colonial Pipeline was victimized by a ransomware attack, the answer to this rhetorical question appears to be an emphatic “No.”…
Continue Reading Is the TSA Security Directive A Harbinger of Oil and Gas Cybersecurity Regulations?
Leah Kaiser has written an article for The Contractor’s Perspective outlining the Department of Energy’s new initiative to protect electricity operations from increasing cyber threats to the energy industry.
DOE’s initiative outlines four primary areas of focus: (1) encouraging the implementation of measures that increase “detection, mitigation, and forensic capabilities; (2) setting “concrete milestones” designed…
Recent Regulatory Steps
On January 14, 2021, on the eve of President Biden’s inauguration, EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, seeking comment on whether PFOA and PFOS should be regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). This will likely lead to the designation of PFOA and PFOS as “Hazardous Substances” under CERCLA and RCRA. Such a designation will likely lead to EPA and the state agencies taking more aggressive action to investigate and identify new sites where PFAS may be a concern and also to review the status of existing sites where PFAS may be a concern that was not addressed in previous investigations or response actions and to potentially pursue response actions at such sites. At this moment though there is only the interim policy that EPA provided to assist in addressing PFOA and PFOS groundwater contamination. The comment period on this advance notice just closed and we anticipate a proposed rulemaking in the near future.
Continue Reading PFAS – Regulation is Upon Us
Donna Pryor and Leah Kaiser have written an article on Safety Law Matters outlining OSHA’s new guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The latest OSHA guidance standardizes a new name for employer policies: “COVID-19 Prevention Program.” In the guidance, OSHA states employers should implement COVID-19 Prevention Programs in the…
On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit vacated and remanded the Trump administration’s 2019 Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. The ACE rule was intended as a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP). ACE was viewed as a significant rollback, especially since the CPP was one of the first major initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Court’s decision will send the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back to the drawing board, opening the door for the Biden administration to pursue its own rule-making agenda.
Section 7411 of the CAA
The ACE rule repealed the CPP and severely limited the ways in which greenhouse gas emissions could be regulated based on a new interpretation of Section 7411 of the Clean Air Act (CAA). Under the ACE rule, EPA interpreted Section 7411 of the CAA as requiring the agency to consider only control methods that could be applied at and to a stationary source, such as heat rate improvement technologies, when determining the best system of emission reduction. This interpretation was directly at odds with the CPP, which utilized control methods that were not applied at or to a physical source such as generation shifting.
Continue Reading DC Circuit Court vacates and remands the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule