Jun 13, 2018

Wind and Gas Surpassed by Solar as Biggest Source of New U.S. Power

Solar Power: Technicians work on solar panels

In the first quarter of 2018, developers have installed 2.5 Gw of solar power – up 13% from the previous year. According to a report from the Solar Energy Industry Association and GTM Research, the 2.5 Gw increase accounted for 55% of all new power generation with solar panels beating new wind and natural gas turbines for a second straight quarter. The growth in the solar sector came despite tariffs on imported panels which were anticipated to increase costs for developers. According to GTM, total anticipated installations this year are expected to be upwards of 10.8 Gw. For more information,… Read more

Jun 6, 2018

Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosures: Fodder for Class Action Lawsuits? 

Sweat Shop: Corporate Social Responsibility

Claims and investigations based on corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) disclosures are becoming increasingly common in the U.S. and internationally. Numerous theories are advanced in claims asserted for allegedly untrue, misleading or incomplete reports and disclosures about a company’s social responsibility initiatives and accomplishments.  This article highlights a class action lawsuit in California now on appeal in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals related to disclosures under the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act 2010 (“CTSCA”). The case is an example of increased litigation potential arising from CSR reports and disclosures.  Companies making such reports and disclosures are encouraged to… Read more

May 15, 2018

EPA Announces New Carbon Neutral Policy for Forest Biomass Energy

Carbon Neutral Policy and Forest Biomass

On February 23, 2018, Scott Pruitt announced a new EPA policy which will treat forest biomass burned at power plants as carbon neutral in all future regulations.  According to Pruitt, the policy will provide “much-needed certainty and clarity” on the carbon neutrality of forest biomass – a clarification that the forest and paper industries have long sought.  Biomass involves obtaining energy by burning wood and other organic matter which is classified as renewable energy in the European Union and United Nations because plant stocks can be replaced with new growth.  In the U.S., regulatory uncertainty regarding how the EPA would treat… Read more

May 9, 2018

Turning Poultry Waste and Scrapwood into Electricity

Poultry Waste as energy

Veolia Environment SA has agreed to operate and maintain three power plants in the southeast that will generate electricity from burning wood and poultry waste.  Veolia current has a short-term contract with Georgia Renewable Power LLC to manage a Lumberton, North Carolina power plant that burns poultry litter and wood biomass.  In a deal announced on March 2, Veolia will get a 15 year operation and maintenance contract to operate the 25 MW facility and to oversee two additional sites in Georgia.  Georgia Renewable Power plans to build two biomass facilities in Georgia, each of which will have capacity to… Read more

May 2, 2018

Guilt-Free Sara Lee: Renewable Energy Plans

Renewable Energy - Wind Energy

Grupo Bimbo SAB (“GB”), the maker of Sara Lee Cakes and Thomas’ English Muffins, has announced plans to buy wind credits to erase its carbon footprint created by its baking operations. GB announced plans to convert to renewable energy for all its U.S. operations by 2020 and has just locked in credits for 100 megawatts of wind power from Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based, renewable energy company. GB will begin offsetting its energy use with generation from Invenergy’s Santa Rita East wind farm in Iron County, Texas, in the third quarter of 2019. In a statement released by GB’s Chief Executive… Read more

Apr 18, 2018

EPA Posts Updated List of “Active” Chemical Substances

Active Chemical Substance

The Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory (“Inventory”) is a list of chemical substances manufactured (including imported) or processed in the United States. On April 12, 2018, EPA posted an updated version of the Inventory, designating nearly 31,000 chemicals on the public portion of the Inventory as “active” in U.S. commerce. TSCA regulation generally prohibits the manufacture, importation, or processing of “inactive” chemical substances. On June 22, 2016, Congress amended TSCA pursuant to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The amended TSCA initiated an “Inventory reset” process, which required EPA to designate chemical substances as “active”… Read more

Apr 11, 2018

Update on EPA Formaldehyde Emissions in Composite Wood Products

Formaldehyde Emissions in Composite Wood Products

When the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California invalidated the Trump Administration’s attempted one-year delay of the EPA rule limiting formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products on February 16 (see this newsletter published March 14, 2018, found here), it stayed the effect of its Order until March 9 to allow the parties to attempt to reach a settlement on the effective date of the emissions limits. The parties did reach agreement on March 9, and an Order was entered on March 13, establishing that the formaldehyde emissions limits in EPA’s rule become effective on June 1, 2018…. Read more

Apr 4, 2018

EPA Lifts Repair Requirements for Oil and Gas Leaks

The EPA has altered a 2016 rule requiring oil companies to fix leaks from oil and gas wells during unscheduled shutdown periods. Under the now-defunct 2016 rule, oil and gas operators were required to identify and repair sources of fugitive emissions during unscheduled or emergency shutdowns. The EPA estimated that the rule would cost the industry $14-16 million in compliance cost over a 14-year period, and industry representatives have indicated that the rule could potentially disrupt natural gas supplies by taking wells offline for longer periods of time while repairs are being conducted. With this change, owners and operators are… Read more

Mar 26, 2018

House Votes to Delay Brick Kiln, Wood Stove Air Pollution Control Rules

Air Pollution from Kiln

The House has voted to delay the implementation of regulations setting limits on toxic air pollution from brick and cement tile kilns and wood fire stoves pending resolution of litigation filed to block implementation of the rules. The bill, which passed by an overwhelming majority on March 7, targets standards limiting emissions of mercury, heavy metals, and acid gases from brick and ceramic tile makers. The emission standards, which were originally issued in 2003, were challenged by industry representatives and were overturned by federal courts prior to being reissued in 2015. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate in November… Read more

Mar 20, 2018

Georgia Court of Appeals Decision Regarding Antidegradation Rule and Nonpoint Sources

Georgia Court of Appeals: Wastewater Treatment Facility

On February 27, 2018, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a decision in Craig Barrow, III v. Richard E. Dunn, which involved an administrative appeal of a permit issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (“EPD”) to the City of Guyton for the operation of a land application system (“LAS”) wastewater treatment facility. In Barrow, the plaintiff-property owner filed an administrative appeal of the LAS permit and alleged that the partially treated wastewater sprayed by the City at the LAS site would run off the site and degrade the water quality of nearby streams and wetlands on the plaintiff’s property…. Read more