September 2009

CT v. AEP Decision Suggests More Climate Change Litigation

September 27, 2009 12:50
By Jocelyn Hill Philadelphia, PA   There is scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that global warming is caused by emissions of greenhouse gases.  Various plaintiffs, including individuals, environmental groups and state and local governments have instituted global warming litigation targeting corporations as defendants.  In 2004, eight states and New York City filed the first climate change liability action against private corporations--the six power companies purported to be the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the United States.  Conn...


EPA Issues Final Mandatory GHG Reporting Rule

September 24, 2009 12:39
By Grace Kurdian New York City   While there is still debate as to whether or not Congress will pass climate change legislation before the end of the year, other branches of government are moving ahead on the climate change front.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") issued its final mandatory greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions reporting rule (“Reporting Rule”) on September 22, 2009.[1]  The authority for this rulemaking stems from a directive in the fiscal year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act.  The Reporting Rule targets approximately 85% of the total U....


Hopes Pinned on Copenhagen Talks Even in Absence of Domestic Climate Change Legislation

September 23, 2009 15:56
By Grace Kurdian New York City   If you predict (as many have) that it is unlikely that Congress will pass domestic climate legislation this year and that, therefore, your industry is spared operating in a carbon-constrained business environment, think again.  Things are not always as they seem; we need to take a closer look at the international efforts toward climate change commitments in order to better gauge the regulatory scheme that may be implemented in the United States in the near future, even if that means looking beyond the remaining four months of this ye...


NY Appeals Court Reinstates Global Warming Lawsuit Against Power Plants

September 22, 2009 14:58
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision this week that reinstates a lawsuit challenging the emission of greenhouse gases from major power plants on a novel application of the federal common law of public nuisance.   The lawsuit, known as Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co. Inc., was originally filed in 2004 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan by eight States and New York City against six electric power companies that own and operate fossil-fuel-fired power plants in 20 states.    Four years ago this month, the district court dismissed the c...


The Calm Before the Storm at the Beach and Windstorm Pools

September 19, 2009 14:51
by J. Wylie Donald
The Wall Street Journal reported this week on North Carolina's attempt to fix one of the more vexing problems of increased coastal development in a climate of increasing hurricane aggression: how to insure those homes without driving all the insurers out of the state. See Leslie Scism, Insurance Pool's Coverage to Coastal Carolina Ebbs, Wall Street Journal (Sept. 14, 2009). The general solution of these "beach pools" is to provide insurance through so-called insurers of last resort who offer coverage at above-market rates. To the extent those plans are inadequate, then assessments on insurers ...


The Drop in RGGI Auction Prices: Attributable to Recession or Regulatory Uncertainty?

September 11, 2009 16:22
by J. Wylie Donald
By Grace Kurdian   The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) held its 5th Auction and rang in its first anniversary of holding regional auctions for carbon allowances on September 9, 2009.  Results released today indicate a marked drop in the price at which carbon emission allowances were traded.    RGGI is the first mandatory regional cooperative in North America through which ten signatory states in the northeast have committed to cap and then reduce carbon dioxide emissions by setting carbon emission limits on the power industry.  The compliance p...


DOE Funds $500M in Direct Grants for Renewable Energy Projects

September 1, 2009 15:25
As Congressional action stalls on pending climate change and renewable energy legislation that could adopt a national renewable portfolio standard and mandate greenhouse gas reductions, the U.S. Department of Energy is accelerating its funding announcements under this year’s stimulus legislation. On Tuesday, DOE Secretary Steven Chu announced $500 million in cash assistance awards for wind and solar clean energy projects in eight states, providing upfront capital and funding the creation of green jobs. Under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, enacted in February, the...


When the Green Building Fails - Thinking Ahead

September 1, 2009 05:46
by J. Wylie Donald
One knew it was only a matter of time before a green building was no longer green. (What is the metaphor:  brown? wilted?). And it is not just a single building, a whole crop of buildings is not meeting the promise (some would say hype) that accompanied their opening.  In an article in Sunday's New York Times, Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label, Mireya Navarro reports on a federal office building in Youngstown, Ohio which, with its white reflecting roof and lots of natural light, is LEED certified. But it also can't qualify for the EPA's Energy Star program. The General Se...



The business case for the development of renewable energy projects, from biodiesel and ethanol to wind, solar, and distributed generation, is more compelling than ever as tax and regulatory incentives combine to attract investments. Emerging issues in environmental law and increasingly recognized principles of corporate social responsibility are encouraging public companies to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions, install clean energy alternatives, and invest overseas in projects under the Kyoto Protocol to respond to climate change concerns.

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