Oct 15, 2019

Wind Power Industry Requests U.S. Tax Credits

A little over a year ago, the U.S. Wind Energy agreed to let its production tax credit lapse in 2020.  Accord to representatives of the Washington-based American Wind Energy Association, the tax credits are now needed for the industry to maintain its cost advantage against competitive sources such as solar and natural gas.  Citing President Donald Trump’s import tariffs on steel and other wind farm components, industry representatives claim that construction costs for on and offshore wind farms have risen by 28%.  Wind Energy Association has indicated that it will lobby for the investment tax credit for wind energy to… Read more

Oct 8, 2019

Trump Administration Withdraws Tariff Exemption for Bifacial Solar Panels

The Trump Administration announced that effective October 28, it will be eliminating a loophole granted four months ago on tariffs for bifacial solar panels. The panels will now be subject to the 25% tariff on imported solar cells and modules that the Trump Administration announced in early 2018. The tariffs on imported solar equipment, introduced in January 2018 at 30% and stepping down by 5% every year until they expire in 2022, were part of the Trump Administration’s trade tariffs targeted against China, the current global leader in solar panel manufacturing. While the rescission is expected to benefit American panel… Read more

Oct 2, 2019

DC Circuit Provides Split Guidance on Wehrum Memo

In an August 20 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 that an EPA guidance document (the “Wehrum Memo”) providing that “major” sources of toxics air emissions can be reclassified as “area” sources if they reduce their emissions below the “major” source threshold is unreviewable in court because it is not a final agency action. Writing for the majority, Judge Robert Wilkins stated that the issue is governed by the two-prong test established by the 2016 Supreme Court opinion in United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co.  To be reviewable in… Read more

Sep 18, 2019

EPA Repeals 2015 Clean Water Rule

On September 12, 2019, the EPA signed a final rule repealing the Obama-era 2015 Clean Water Rule, temporarily reinstating the pre-2015 regulatory framework for determining which bodies of water are considered “Waters of the United States” qualifying for federal anti-pollution protections under the Clean Water Act. The pre-2015 regulations are currently in place in more than half the states, due to litigation over the Obama era rule. According to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Trump administration is working on a replacement WOTUS rule, which is expected to take effect next year. Both the repeal and the anticipated new rule are… Read more

Sep 10, 2019

U.S. Gas Plants will be Outperformed by Wind and Solar by 2035

Wind and Solar Power

Natural gas-fired power plants, which are largely responsible for undermining the economics of coal-fired plants, are expected to be undercut by renewable power by 2035. According to a September 9 report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, analysis performed on the cost of construction, fuel, and anticipated operations for 68 gigawatt gas plants compared to the cost of building a combination of solar farms, wind plants, and battery systems indicate that it will be more expensive to run 90% of the gas plants being proposed in the U.S. compared to sustainable energy plants. As gas plants lose their viability and power… Read more

Sep 5, 2019

SGR Client Cherry Street Energy Partners with Terrapin Brewery

Through its partnership with SGR client Cherry Street Energy, Terrapin Brewery became Georgia’s first brewery to purchase renewable energy generated on-site. Solar panels owned and operated by Cherry Street Energy will be installed on the rooftop and parking lot of Terrapin’s Athens brewery and will offset approximately 30% of Terrapin’s energy consumption. SGR attorneys Steve O’Day and Vickie Rusek served as counsel for Cherry Street Energy on the project. SGR congratulates Cherry Street Energy on its success and commends Terrapin Brewery for its sustainability initiative. Learn more about Terrapin’s partnership with Cherry Street Energy here.

Aug 27, 2019

California Supreme Court Rules City Failed to Comply with CEQA in Adopting Medical Marijuana Ordinance

Medical Marijuana Dispensary

On August 19, 2019, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that San Diego failed to adequately analyze the potential environmental impacts of its medical marijuana dispensary law under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CEQA mandates a review of any covered “project” and its environmental effects. In general, a “project” is an activity that  (1) is undertaken or funded by, or subject to the approval of, a public agency and (2) may cause “either a direct physical change in the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment.”  (Pub. Res. Code, § 21065.) In 2014, San Diego… Read more

Aug 21, 2019

SGR Partner Andy Thompson Speaks at Engineering Law and Ethics Seminar

Speaking Engagement

SGR Partner Andy Thompson will speak on September 25, 2019 at a legal seminar for engineers and others involved in the engineering field.  The seminar is entitled Engineering Law and Ethics and will occur at the Hyatt House-Cobb Galleria, 3595 Cumberland Boulevard SE, Atlanta, GA 30339.  Andy will provide an update on Developments in Federal and Georgia Environmental Law including discharges to groundwater, the repeal and replacement of the Waters of the United States Rule, U.S. EPA’s National Compliance Initiatives, Repeal and Replacement of the Clean Power Plan, and PFAS Regulation and Litigation. Some of the learning objectives include: explain… Read more

Aug 14, 2019

Landfill Pollution Suits Removed to Federal Court

Landfill Pollution

A federal court in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has ruled that seven consolidated suits over landfill pollution were properly removed to federal court. Waste Connections, Inc. moved to remove the cases filed by over 600 plaintiffs under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) Mass Action Provision to federal court after the plaintiffs consented to consolidation of the seven individual lawsuits.  The removal provision is meant to ensure plaintiffs don’t file smaller, separate suits just to avoid federal jurisdiction.  Each of the seven suits were filed by the same plaintiff’s counsel against the same defendants,… Read more

Aug 7, 2019

Environmental Groups Challenge EPA’s New Lead Standard Rule

Lead based paint

On July 9, the U.S. EPA issued its “review of the dust lead hazard standards and the definition of lead-based paint” under which the EPA left largely intact, the existing standards and definitions.  The Sierra Club has petitioned the 9th Circuit to review the new standards for “dust lead,” which include a decision by the EPA not to change the definition of lead-based paint. The standards are used to determine whether lead hazards exist in homes, childcare facilities and surrounding soil. In the case, A Community Voice v. EPA, the petitioner’s allege that the new standard does not take into… Read more