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  • Generational Reform of the National Environmental Policy Act Has Weighty Implications for the Nuclear Industry
    07.21/Alert

    On July 15, 2020, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) promulgated a final rule amending the implementing regulations (40 CFR § 1500, et seq.) of the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4321, et seq. (NEPA). The final rule largely tracks proposed amendments, which the CEQ issued on January 10, 2020. The amendments aim to align NEPA’s implementing regulations with underutilized principles embedded in statutory provisions, agency guidance, and court decisions to streamline the environmental review process. These regulatory changes represent the culmination of Trump administration efforts to modernize NEPA dating back to August 2017, when the White House issued Executive Order 13087 to mitigate the delays that environmental reviews present to infrastructure development, including the licensing and development of nuclear facilities. The final rule will become effective on September 14, 2020.

  • NRC Takes Important Step Toward Following White Paper Recommendations for Streamlining NEPA Reviews for Advanced Nuclear Reactors
    04.03/Alert

    Background
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies proposing to undertake, approve or fund “major Federal actions” to evaluate the action’s environmental impacts, including both direct and reasonably foreseeable indirect effects. NEPA also requires agencies to consider alternatives to the proposed action and to discuss cumulative impacts resulting from the incremental effects of the project when added to those of other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future projects.

  • COVID-19 Pandemic Will Soon be Impacting Compliance with and Enforcement of Environmental Laws
    03.23/Alert

    Remote work and other impacts to company workforces from the novel coronavirus pandemic are likely to result in practical limitations on usual environmental, health and safety compliance programs and activities across a wide variety of industries. We are already seeing see some regulatory agencies issuing new guidance and orders with implications for compliance and enforcement, and it is worth noting that regulatory agencies will also likely be impacted by their own workforce capacity issues in this environment.

  • IRS Issues Anticipated Guidance on Section 45Q Carbon Capture Credits
    02/26/Alert

    On February 19, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service issued long anticipated guidance to help businesses understand how legislation passed in 2018 impacts those claiming carbon capture credits pursuant to Section 45Q. The guidance addresses the definition of “beginning of construction” and provides a safe harbor for partnership allocations of the credit. This guidance takes a first step toward accelerating slow-moving projects, with more detailed rules to come.

  • Highlights of the CLEAN Future Act Proposal from the House Energy and Commerce Committee
    01.30/Blog

    The Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has released a “discussion draft” of the committee’s climate bill. The legislation is over 600 pages long, but the Committee has also released a summary of this legislation, which is entitled the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act or the CLEAN Future Act. Here are some highlights.

  • Deployment of SMRs: Key Market Trends for Consideration
    01.22/Blog

    Any strategy for the successful deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) must thoroughly consider the current trends affecting the burgeoning market for SMRs. In 2019, the three major trends shaping this market were the large number of SMR designs, interest in SMRs in both mature and emerging markets, and factors impacting SMR financing.

  • Spending Deal Provides Long-Term Extension for Biodiesel Tax Credit
    01.14/Alert

    On Dec. 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law a new spending deal that includes an historic five-year extension of the biodiesel blenders tax credit. The deal reinstates the blenders tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel retroactively from its expiration on Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2022. The legislation also includes a “special rule” that directs the Treasury Department to develop a one-time claims process to speed payment of the credit for years 2018 and 2019, when it lapsed.

  • Environmental and Regulatory Highlights of the Fall 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory Actions
    01.06/Blog

    In late December, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the “Fall 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory Actions” just a few days before the Calendar turned to the year 2020. (It should be noted that the Spring Agenda was not released until June 24, 2019.) Individual agency agendas were published in the Federal Register by several agencies and executive departments on December 26, 2019. The entire agenda, which is a survey of all current and projected rule-making actions that federal agencies and departments are planning over the next 12 months, is available at such government websites as regulations.gov. The Agenda provides valuable insights into the actions these agencies believe to be most important. This survey will largely concentrate on environmental regulatory developments, although other matters are worth noting.

  • Name-and-Shame Proposal of Electric Regulators Highlights Need for Cyber Insurance
    11.05/Alert

    On August 27, 2019, FERC and NERC staffs issued a Joint Staff White Paper on Notices of Penalty Pertaining to Violations of Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standards. In that White Paper, FERC/NERC staffs propose departing from FERC’s historical practice of withholding most material details regarding CIP Reliability Standard violations. FERC has recently signaled an appetite to depart from that practice by disclosing the names of a handful of allegedly violating electric utilities in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

  • DOE Proposes Procedures for the Imposition of Civil Penalties for Violations of Part 810
    10.07/Alert

    On October 3, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) proposing procedures for imposing civil penalties for violations of DOE’s 10 CFR Part 810 regulations (Part 810). Part 810 implements section 57b.(2) of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) (42 U.S.C. 2077) and controls the export of unclassified nonpublic nuclear technology.

  • The Brexit Blindspot: Nuclear Retransfers
    01.15/Alert

    The UK is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019. While the United States and UK governments have taken significant steps to ensure that contracts related to nuclear power stations and the nuclear fuel cycle are not interrupted, little public attention has been paid to the potential delay in commerce caused by the UK no longer being a member of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). This is particularly important because the U.S. Government will now need to provide its consent for retransfers of certain nuclear materials and components from the EURATOM countries to the UK, after the UK withdraws from EURATOM. While the U.S.- EURATOM Agreement for Cooperation provides a mechanism for the United States to provide its advance consent for these retransfers to the UK, the process itself could likely take at least several months and perhaps a year or more, as explained below. This article provides what we believe will be the potential impediments to commerce. However, the precise manner in which U.S. retransfer consent rights affect nuclear commerce with the UK will vary depending upon the specific circumstances of each proposed retransfer.

  • Natural Resources Agency Finalizes Updates to the CEQA Guidelines
    12.10/Alert

    At the end of November 2018, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) posted final adopted text for amendments to the regulations implementing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), known as the CEQA Guidelines. The final text is the result of over five years of development efforts by the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research (OPR) and CNRA. The amendments combine changes to transportation impact analysis as directed by Senate Bill 743 (2013) with the most comprehensive update to the CEQA Guidelines since 1998, incorporating statutory changes, court decisions, and comments from public agencies, business and environmental groups, and other stakeholders through multiple rounds of public review. The wide range of issues covered in the amendments includes use of regulatory standards as significance thresholds; environmental baselines; a new metric for analyzing transportation impacts; climate, water supply and energy impacts; and numerous procedural and technical improvements.

  • Pillsbury's Post-Election Outlook
    11.07/Alert

    The 2018 Midterm Election played out as most poll forecasters speculated. Although several races have yet to be decided, Republicans have retained control of the Senate, but lost at least 29 seats, allowing the Democrats to wrest back control of the House for the first time since 2010.

  • 2018 Election Night Guide
    11.02/Article

    Pillsbury’s Political Law and Public Policy groups break down the need-to-know numbers for this year’s election. Pillsbury’s biennial Election Night Guide examines the potential outcomes for the 2018 Congressional and Governor’s races. Our Public Policy team is also preparing a post-election guide that will be useful in navigating potential changes in Congress.

  • Gas Regulation 2018: United States
    3.30/Article

    Need an update on the state of the natural gas sector in the United States? This recently published article has you covered.

  • New CERCLA Brownfields Amendments
    03.29/Blog

    Spurred by the realization there may be as many as 450,000 Brownfields sites around the country that require some financial assistance, the recently enacted bi-partisan BUILD Act reauthorizes the EPA's Brownfields program at current funding levels through 2023.

  • Administration Issues “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America”
    02.22/Blog

    The Trump Administration's legislative proposal to rebuild American infrastructure identifies a number of specific laws that will require amendments. Here is a brief review of some of the plans many provisions.

  • Congress Expands the Oil Pollution Act to Reach Spills Originating Outside of the U.S.
    01.22/Alert

    The Foreign Spill Protection Act of 2017 establishes oil spill liability in the U.S. for foreign-based offshore exploration and production facilities.

  • The Fall 2017 Unified Federal Regulatory Agenda
    12.20/Blog

    The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of Management and Budget have posted the Fall 2017 Agency Statements of Regulatory Priorities. Here's a look at what's ahead.

  • The Trump Administration’s First Steps Toward Streamlining Environmental Reviews
    12.05/Article

    An August Executive Order aims to fast-track federal review of infrastructure projects, including a streamlined environmental review process of projects deemed “high-priority.” Recent actions taken by the Council on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Department of the Interior indicate what that might look like.

  • U.S. DOT Releases Draft Strategic Plan Beginning Implementation of Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Project Streamlining
    10.27/Blog

    The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a draft Strategic Plan that establishes goals for increasing investment and streamlining environmental review and approval of transportation infrastructure projects over the next five years. The draft Plan is DOT’s first formal action in response to the Administration’s Executive Order on streamlining. Although it identifies needs and objectives it provides few specifics.

  • Council on Environmental Quality Takes First Step to Implement Trump Executive Order on Streamlining Federal Environmental Reviews
    09.25/Blog

    The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which oversees federal agency compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, has announced a list of planned actions to implement President Trump’s Executive Order on streamlining federal environmental reviews. While the Order and CEQ notice have launched a process that could transform federal environmental reviews and approvals, they provide few specifics, and their impact remains to be seen.

  • DOE Opens the Door to Major Energy Market Reforms
    08.25/Alert

    In August, the Department of Energy published a much-anticipated study analyzing the market hurdles facing conventional baseload generation, such as coal, nuclear and hydropower. The study sets the stage for a high-stakes debate before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

  • Time Will Tell If Trump Infrastructure Executive Order Shortens Federal Reviews
    08.22/Alert

    On August 15, President Trump issued an Executive Order that seeks to streamline federal environmental review and approvals of major infrastructure projects by imposing new timelines and procedures. Key provisions create a two-year deadline for completing review and issuing authorizations.

  • Chemicals, Compliance and the Toxic Substances Control Act
    08.16/Alert

    The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) required the compiling of a national register of chemicals that were manufactured in or imported into the United States for a non-exempt commercial purpose, and the first TSCA Inventory in 1979 included approximately 62,000 chemicals. Since then, the Inventory has been expanded to include approximately 90,000 chemicals—a rate of over 700 new chemicals per year.

  • Up in the Air
    06.22/Alert

    Trump Administration officials followed up on the President’s June 1 announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord by announcing that the Administration was reviewing U.S. participation in ICAO’s global aviation emissions offset and trading regime.

  • How Companies Can Take Advantage of President Trump’s Plan to Roll Back Federal Energy Regulation
    05.10/Audio

    President Trump’s March 28 Executive Order requires every federal agency and Department to identify and potentially suspend, rescind, or relax federal regulations, policies, prior agency orders and guidelines that impede U.S. energy development or use. In this roundtable discussion, Sheila Harvey, Jeffrey Merrifield, Matthew Morrison and Andrew Weissman examine the implications of the Executive Order and how it could affect businesses in 2017 and beyond.
    Embed

  • DC Lawyer: Trump Executive Order ‘Literally Applies to Everything’ the Federal Government Does with Energy Development
    04.07/Video

    Washington, DC Energy senior counsel Andrew Weissman told The Washington Post that legal professionals and industry experts, among others, are just beginning to grasp the scope of the March 28 order. According to Weissman, the order has far-reaching effects on “almost every environmental regulation that affects energy in any way,” in addition to non-environmental regulations.