Posts tagged Biden Administration.
Time 7 Minute Read

On May 1, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published the final Phase 2 rule overhauling the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations. The final rule, titled the “Bipartisan Permitting Reform Implementation Rule” (Phase 2 Rule), will apply to all actions starting the NEPA processes beginning after July 1, 2024, and the agencies have discretion to apply to NEPA reviews that are currently underway.

Time 6 Minute Read

The US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently finalized its long-anticipated National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (“NECIs”) for fiscal years 2024 through 2027, naming six “priority areas” on which EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (“OECA”) will focus its enforcement efforts and direct additional resources. In his first significant action since being confirmed by the Senate on July 20, 2023, OECA Assistant Administrator David Uhlmann issued a memorandum on August 17, 2023 to the EPA Regional Administrators, advising of the six NECIs. He stated that over the next four years EPA will “address the most significant public health and environmental challenges, protect vulnerable and overburdened communities, and promote greater compliance with our environmental laws.”

Time 5 Minute Read

On April 6, 2023, President Biden issued Executive Order 14094, Modernizing Regulatory Review. This Executive Order (EO) makes several important changes to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) regulatory review process for federal agency regulations. The EO significantly affects which regulations qualify for interagency review, modifies the OMB gatekeeping function by which meetings are granted on proposed rules, and requires the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) to amend policies underlying how the federal government conducts cost-benefit analysis. In addition, OIRA has released a suite of new draft guidance documents that serve to implement the EO that, if finalized, will impact the review process for regulations. These guidance documents are open for comment as described below.

Time 5 Minute Read

On April 6, 2023, President Biden issued Executive Order 14094, Modernizing Regulatory Review. This Executive Order (EO) makes several important changes to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) regulatory review process for federal agency regulations. The EO significantly affects which regulations qualify for interagency review, modifies the OMB gatekeeping function by which meetings are granted on proposed rules, and requires the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) to amend policies underlying how the federal government conducts cost-benefit analysis. In addition, OIRA has released a suite of new draft guidance documents that serve to implement the EO that, if finalized, will impact the review process for regulations. These guidance documents are open for comment as described below.

Time 3 Minute Read

President Biden issued his second veto late last week. The President’s second veto protects a U.S. EPA rule that went into effect on March 20, 2023. That rule redefines “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), and at a high conceptual level, returns the Agency’s interpretation of WOTUS to that of the Obama administration, an interpretation that was revoked and replaced by the Trump administration.

This matter has been hotly contested in the federal courts. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to issue a ruling within the next several weeks on Sackett v. EPA, a decision which could substantially revise and narrow the Agency’s definition of “waters of the United States.” The Court’s decision here could send the Biden administration’s revised definition of WOTUS back to EPA for changes needed in-line with the Court’s decision, if and when issued.

Time 2 Minute Read

President Biden issued his first veto today. Biden’s veto returns to Congress a joint resolution that attempts to nullify a recent rule from the Department of Labor regarding consideration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors when investing in retirement accounts. This rule went into effect on January 30, 2023, and allows for retirement plan fiduciaries to consider ESG factors when selecting investments and exercising shareholder rights. Some have said ESG investing is controversial because it allows for retirement plan fiduciaries to consider factors such as climate change and equity instead of focusing solely on maximizing financial returns; while others have argued that past measures prohibiting the consideration of ESG factors are equally problematic.

Time 3 Minute Read

This article follows up on two prior articles published by Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP attorneys focusing on the Department of the Interior’s (“DOI”) funding of state orphaned well programs[1] and the Biden Administration’s promise of a greater emphasis on consulting with indigenous people and acknowledging their communities’ cultures, customs, sacred sites, and historical knowledge in the contexts of environmental planning, sustainability, and justice, and in ongoing and forthcoming federal decision making and regulatory rulemaking.[2]

Time 3 Minute Read

Yesterday, June 23, 2022, The Biden Administration announced the launch of a Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership (“Partnership”) to expedite and foster the growth of wind energy, tackle the climate crisis, strengthen American energy security, and achieve the goal of deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030. 

Time 9 Minute Read

EPA hopes to issue its final National Recycling Strategy (NRS) this November, according to recent statements by acting director of EPA’s Resource Conservation and Sustainability Division, Office of Land and Emergency Management Nena Shaw at the American Bar Association’s Fall Conference. Previously, EPA indicated it intended to finalize the NRS in the spring of 2021 with an implementation roadmap out in the fall of 2021. To date, the agency has yet to release its final NRS.

Time 4 Minute Read

The White House announced on July 22, 2021, President Biden’s nomination of David Uhlmann to be the Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Uhlmann is currently the director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program at the University of Michigan Law School and was previously a federal prosecutor for 17 years, including as the Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section of the US Department of Justice. His nomination signals the White House’s clear intent to reinvigorate EPA’s enforcement program after what the EPA’s Inspector General found in its March 31, 2020 report to be years of declining case statistics across multiple administrations.

Time 5 Minute Read

Last week, among many actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration on Earth Day 2021, one may have flown under the proverbial radar, though it does have significant legal implications for greenhouse gas regulation and the whole-of-government(s) approach:  the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notice proposing to repeal the preemption portions of NHTSA’s 2019 rule entitled “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule Part One: One National Program,” 84 Fed. Reg. 51,310 (Sept. 27, 2019) (SAFE I Rule).  NHTSA, “Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Preemption; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (signed Apr. 24, 2021) (Proposed Rule).

Time 5 Minute Read

On Earth Day, as expected, the Biden-Harris Administration continued its efforts to fulfill campaign commitments on climate change.  The big announcement came on what is called the “Nationally Determined Contribution” or NDC.  The Administration announced that the United States will aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 50% by 2030.  This reflects an increased commitment from the United States’ prior commitment of cutting emissions by 25% from 2005 levels by 2025.

Time 2 Minute Read

As we have explained, environmental justice will be a central focus of the Biden-Harris administration. A recent Executive Order declares federal agencies “shall make achieving environmental justice part of their missions by developing programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionately high and adverse human health, environmental, climate-related and other cumulative impacts on disadvantaged communities, as well as the accompanying economic challenges of such impacts.” Both big and small, changes are coming at the federal level on permitting, rulemaking, enforcement, and other actions that will have a practical impact on corporations and communities.

Time 9 Minute Read

As the Biden Administration settles in and begins to appoint its designees to key executive and administrative agencies, a series of policy objectives are coming into focus.  Chief among them is expanded attention and regulation in the ESG space regarding environmental, social and governance issues at American businesses. In this post, we survey the expected direction of these initiatives at, for example, the SEC, Department of Labor, and EPA.

Time 4 Minute Read

Among the flurry of executive actions signed by President Biden last week on inauguration day was a presidential memorandum aiming to revise the regulatory review process.  Titled “Modernizing Regulatory Review,” the memo is directed at the heads of executive departments and agencies and has dual focuses that show the Biden Administration’s commitment to strengthening key tenets of regulatory review while enhancing the focus on equitable and other considerations in the process.  Though it garnered less attention than other actions issued simultaneously, this memo signals President Biden’s ambitious regulatory agenda and may have far-reaching effects that pervade the regulatory process.

Time 4 Minute Read

On November 19, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) issued Opinion No. 569-B, its latest order addressing evaluations of whether a public utility’s return on equity (“ROE”) is just and reasonable under Section 206 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”). [1]  As described herein, the Commission largely reaffirmed the methodology established in its prior related opinions.  See here.

Time 4 Minute Read

On November 29, Voters in Switzerland narrowly rejected the “Responsible Business Initiative” (RBI), which would have extended liability to multinational corporations and their subsidiaries and suppliers for noncompliance with international environmental and human rights standards, not just in Switzerland but also when doing business abroad. The majority of Swiss voted in favor of the RBI, but the referendum failed due to unique requirements associated with Switzerland’s direct democracy.

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