Category: The Americas

1
Pennsylvania’s Growing Electric Vehicle Charging Network: What’s All the Buzz About NEVI Plans?
2
California Passes Suite of New Climate Bills Aimed at Reducing Emissions, Stimulating Carbon Capture, and Implementing Buffers
3
Ensuring Energy Security Section in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022
4
BOEM Issues Final Sale Notice for Offshore Wind Lease Areas in Carolina Long Bay
5
FERC Enforcement In 2021: A Year Of Change
6
Commerce Extends Initiation Deadline in Solar Circumvention Inquiries & USTR to Start Targeted China 301 Tariff Exclusion Process
7
White House Chooses Exclusion of Silica-Based Products Produced Using Forced Labor, Impacting Solar PVs
8
D.C. Circuit Affirms That Offshore Wind Lease Does Not Trigger NEPA Review
9
We Have ESG Down to the Letter
10
What a Clean Future Means For Maritime

Pennsylvania’s Growing Electric Vehicle Charging Network: What’s All the Buzz About NEVI Plans?

By: Brianna K. EdwardsThomas R. DeCesarBuck B. EndemannTad J. MacfarlanPierce RichardsonNathan C. Howe

With electric vehicles (EVs) on the rise, recent federal legislative and policy initiatives have prompted states to develop related infrastructure plans. These plans will provide for the greater connectivity required to support the future of EV transportation. As state plans are approved and implemented, new legal issues will likely develop.

On 15 November 2021, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which directs funding to state and local governments for transportation improvement programs, including developing and expanding EV infrastructure. Under the BIL, each state was required to submit a National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure plan to the U.S. Department of Transportation by 1 August 2022.

California Passes Suite of New Climate Bills Aimed at Reducing Emissions, Stimulating Carbon Capture, and Implementing Buffers

By: David Wang, Elizabeth C. Crouse, Buck B. Endemann

On August 31, 2022—the last day of the 2022 legislative session—California legislators passed a package of climate bills aimed at reducing statewide emissions, stimulating the carbon capture industry, and implementing buffers between communities and oil and gas developments. The bills include $54 billion in climate-related spending and come on the heels of other state and federal efforts to reduce carbon emissions across many sectors of the economy.

The package contains the following bills:

  • AB 1279, which codifies California’s existing goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.
  • AB 1757, which requires the state Natural Resources Agency to establish targets for natural carbon sequestration and nature-based climate solutions.
  • SB 846, which authorizes the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to continue operations until December 31, 2030, and provides Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&E,” the plant’s operator) with a $1.4 billion loan to help facilitate those operations.  While Diablo Canyon was originally going to be retired by 2025, many saw Diablo Canyon’s 2,256 MW as critical for providing carbon-free power during the afternoon and evening ramp.
  • SB 905, which directs the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) to establish a program to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and viability of carbon capture, utilization, or storage (“CCUS”) and carbon removal technologies. The bill also requires CARB to adopt various regulations governing CCUS and carbon removal projects, including a unified permit application for such projects and measures to minimize leakage from carbon storage reservoirs.
  • SB 1020, which sets interim targets regarding retail sales of electricity. Current law requires 100 percent of all energy sales to California end-use customers to be supplied by eligible renewable energy sources or zero-carbon resources by 2045.  SB 1020 sets interim targets of 90 percent by 2035 and 95 percent by 2040. SB 1020 also requires state agencies to source 100 percent of their energy from eligible renewable or zero-carbon resources by 2035—ten years earlier than the current target.
  • SB 1137, which establishes 3,200-foot buffer zones between oil and gas facilities or wells with a wellhead and facilities that qualify as “sensitive receptors,” including private homes, schools, community centers, nursing homes, hospitals, and prisons.

Legislators failed to pass AB 2133, which would have made stricter California’s emissions reduction goals (raising from 40 percent to 55 percent the reduction below the state’s 1990 emissions levels that California would have to meet by 2030).

Each bill now goes to Governor Gavin Newsom to sign by September 30, 2022, which he is expected to do after publicly advocating for them earlier in August. The California legislature’s actions come several days after CARB announced a new rule that would require by 2035 all new cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in the state to be greenhouse gas emission-free. These state-level efforts complement recent federal efforts to catalyze and develop a low-emissions energy economy, notably the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (“IIJA,” or Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included $47.2 billion for improving climate resilience) and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (“IRA,” which included $369 billion in climate-related spending, tax credits, and incentives). These initiatives represent a concerted effort on both the federal and state level to rapidly shift the economy towards low-emissions energy sources, and consequently provide ample opportunities for new investment opportunities, financing structures, and stakeholders.

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Ensuring Energy Security Section in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

By Laurie B. Purpuro

On 27 July, Senators Manchin and Schumer announced a deal on the successor to the Build Back Better Act, which is expected to pass in the Senate on Saturday (6 August 2022) and the House the following Friday. This new legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, includes US$370 billion in programs and tax credits to boost renewable energy production in the United States. 

That said, page 644 of the draft includes language that ties federal solar, wind and offshore wind development to federal lease sales for oil and gas. 

The Details

The section of the bill titled “Ensuring Energy Security” prohibits the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from issuing rights-of-way (ROW) for wind or solar development on federal land unless an onshore oil and gas lease sale has occurred within 120 days before the wind or solar lease issuance. In addition, these wind and solar ROWs would not be allowed unless, in the previous year, BLM completed onshore oil and gas lease sales covering 2,000,000 acres or 50% of the acreage in which interested parties have expressed interest, whichever is lower. (Note: Wind and solar projects that impact federal land are authorized by ROWs.)

Offshore wind (OSW) is similarly impacted by this provision, as it prohibits the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) from issuing an OSW lease unless an oil and gas offshore lease sale of at least 60 million acres is held during the year before the OSW lease issuance.

The Impact

This section of the agreement is intended to force the Biden Administration to restart the regularly scheduled oil and gas lease sales that it has been cancelling since 2021, while at the same time allowing the Biden Administration to conduct fewer annual oil and gas lease sales than currently required.   

The Mineral Leasing Act requires four onshore oil and gas leases per year; the language in this bill requires three onshore oil and gas leases per year, as a prerequisite to solar and wind development on federal land. BOEM offshore oil and gas five-year leasing programs require two offshore oil and gas lease sales in most years; this bill requires one sale per year, in order to allow solar and wind development on federal land. 

Furthermore, the acreage requirements for oil and gas sales outlined in the bill are in line with previous sales. And for the onshore oil and gas lease sales, just in case BLM falls shore of the 2,000,000 acre requirement, they can sell leases for 50% of the acreage that parties are interested in.

The Compromise

This Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is a compromise forged by Senate Democrats with the slimmest of majorities. The Ensuring Energy Security section is Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin’s way of requiring an all of the above energy policy for the country.

BOEM Issues Final Sale Notice for Offshore Wind Lease Areas in Carolina Long Bay

U.S. Energy, Infrastructure, and Resources Alert

By: Stanford D. BairdKenneth J. Gish, JrNathan C. HoweDavid L. WochnerKimberly B. FrankAnkur K. Tohan

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold its next offshore wind lease auction on 11 May 2022, for two lease areas in the Carolina Long Bay. The lease areas comprise 110,091 acres off the coast of North and South Carolina. The auction date will occur weeks ahead of a 10-year moratorium on offshore energy leases imposed in 2020 by the Trump administration prohibiting auctions of leases for wind, in addition to oil and gas, off the coasts of North and South Carolina beginning on 1 July 2022.

For more information, please contact our Energy, Infrastructure, and Resources lawyers or visit our practice page.

FERC Enforcement In 2021: A Year Of Change

By:  Ruta Skučas, Kimberly Frank, and Maeve Tibbetts

Originally posted on Law360 on January 3, 2022

2021 was a pivotal year for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission‘s Office of Enforcement. Under the direction of Chairman Richard Glick, the office gained a new director, Janel Burdick, added threats to infrastructure as a new priority, and increased its pace of opening and closing investigations and reaching settlements.

Most significantly, Glick asserted at the presentation of the 2021 enforcement report that “the cop is back on the street,” and that he intends to ensure “vigorous oversight and enforcement” of jurisdictional markets.

Increased Investigations Under Chairman Glick

During the commission’s November 2020 open meeting, when the Office of Enforcement presented its 2020 annual report, then-Commissioner Glick criticized the commission’s enforcement efforts, which he perceived as lacking. In 2020, the commission opened only six new investigations, and reached three settlements totaling $553,376.

Commerce Extends Initiation Deadline in Solar Circumvention Inquiries & USTR to Start Targeted China 301 Tariff Exclusion Process

By: Stacy J. Ettinger

COMMERCE EXTENDS INITIATION DEADLINE IN SOLAR CIRCUMVENTION INQUIRIES – NEW DEADLINE LATE NOV

On September 29, 2021, Commerce determined to delay a decision on initiation in the solar circumvention inquiries. Commerce instead asked the US solar manufacturers – A-SMACC (the so-called American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention) – for additional information. In particular, Commerce requested additional information related to why the A-SMACC companies have requested anonymity in the circumvention proceeding. Commerce also requested information regarding the A-SMACC companies’ ties to business interests in China or Southeast Asian countries.

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White House Chooses Exclusion of Silica-Based Products Produced Using Forced Labor, Impacting Solar PVs

By: Stacy J. Ettinger, Amy L. Groff, William D. Semins, Caitlin C. Blanche, Coleman Wombwell, Elizabeth C. Crouse

Today, the White House announced that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued a withhold release order (the Order) on products manufactured using silica-based products produced by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co., Ltd., and its subsidiaries (“Hoshine”), which are purportedly the world’s largest metallurgical-grade silicon producers. Hoshine has been linked to forced labor in the Xinjiang province of the People’s Republic of China (the PRC). The Order covers silica-based products and materials or goods derived from or produced using those silica-based products. Thus, CBP may use the Order to seize or exclude a variety of products, including solar photovoltaic panels.

D.C. Circuit Affirms That Offshore Wind Lease Does Not Trigger NEPA Review

By: J. Timothy HobbsAnkur K. TohanRobert M. SmithDavid L. WochnerNatalie J. Reid

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) does not need to conduct full environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when granting an offshore wind farm lease, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed. The decision followed a lawsuit by commercial fishing organizations and seaside municipalities who claimed that BOEM violated NEPA and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) when it auctioned an offshore lease to Equinor (formerly Statoil) without performing an environmental review of the anticipated windfarm project. The decision puts to rest the question of whether a mere lease sale may trigger extensive environmental review under NEPA, potentially streamlining the initial lease acquisition process, but also requiring the investment of significant funds before developers have cleared environmental review.

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What a Clean Future Means For Maritime

By: Brody GarlandCliff L. RothensteinLaurie B. PurpuroDarrell L. ConnerMark Ruge, and Elle M. Stuart

As the Biden Administration finds its stride in the first 100 days, we are starting to see movement on several of its key priorities. Chief among them: pivoting to a clean energy economy. A campaign that promised investments of up to $2 trillion in alternative energy saw progress this week, as House Democrats, led by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush (D-IL), announced a down payment on those hopes with the introduction of the CLEAN Future Act. In our previous K&L Gates alert from January, our team discussed how the U.S. maritime industry should expect the issues of clean energy investment and climate resiliency to rise to the very top of the White House’s legislative agenda. This week’s rollout of the CLEAN Future Act further confirms the importance of these priorities, and the far-reaching implications of the reforms offered for the transportation and maritime sectors.

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