The American Society for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”) is expected to release a revised international standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (“ESAs”) in December of 2021 that will clarify a number of key components of the standard and elevate the importance of per/poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”).

Phase I ESAs are conducted by many parties when they become involved in the sale, acquisition, development, or financing of a piece of land, including developers, owners, and parties who provide loans for or serve as tax equity investors on renewable energy projects.  The Phase I ESAs allow those parties to get a glimpse into the environmental condition of the land and identify any potential contamination on-site.  Some of those parties – by acquiring an ownership or leasehold interest in the land, or by becoming an operator of the site – take on potential environmental liability if there have been releases on-site, including liability under the strict liability scheme of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”).  A defense to CERCLA liability is available if the party conducted certain diligence that complies with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s All Appropriate Inquiries (“AAI”) standard, and if the party exercises appropriate care with respect to issues identified.  Environmental consultants prepare those Phase I ESAs and use the current ASTM standard as a guideline to prepare a thorough report and comply with AAI.
Continue Reading A Revised ASTM Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Standard is Coming

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

The colocation of energy storage facilities with solar and wind projects has emerged as a popular trend within the renewable energy field. Many Independent System Operators have reported an increase in hybrid resources projects in their interconnection queues in recent years. For example, CAISO (California Independent System Operator) reported that hybrid projects constitute two-thirds of all solar projects in its interconnection queue.

Continue Reading Real Estate Concerns for Hybrid Renewable Energy Projects

Partner Megan Caldwell recently published “Trump Makes Last Minute Push to Boost Coal, But Biden Presidency’s Vow to Decarbonize Power Generation Causes Concern” in Coal Age, discussing recent and anticipated changes impacting the coal industry as the Trump administration ends and Biden kickstarts his ambitious clean energy agenda.

Read the article here.

Partner Megan Caldwell recently published “EPA Rollback of Rule Regulating Wastewater from Steam Electric Plants Allows Coal Companies Some Relief” in Rock Products Magazine, discussing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rollback of former President Barack Obama-era limits on wastewater effluent regulations governing the amount of toxic metals that coal-fired power plants can discharge

The economy may be stalled, but the use of Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 just opened back up for non-oil and gas pipeline projects. A recent decision rocked the permitting community as a judge vacated NWP 12 outright because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by not consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prior to reissuing NWP 12. However, earlier this week, Judge Morris amended the remedy provided in his April 15, 2020 order, which vacated all continuing use of NWP 12.
Continue Reading Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 Re-Opened for Non-Oil and Gas Pipeline Projects