The Climate Report | Spring 2018
Climate Change Regulatory Issues & Updates
EPA Releases 2018 Edition of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
A new version of EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory shows a decline in U.S. total net greenhouse gas emissions of roughly 12 percent from 2005 to 2016. The inventory appears to play a role in EPA's planning of its regulatory agenda and shows that many U.S. industries are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, despite an ongoing narrative to the contrary.
New Clean Energy Targets of Europe's Energy Reform
In order to achieve the European Union's 2030 climate and energy framework, the European Commission introduced, on November 30, 2016, the "clean energy" legislative package. On January 17, 2018, the European Parliament adopted provisional versions of two directives and one regulation regarding energy efficiency, promoting the use of energy from renewable sources and governance of the Energy Union.
Mexico Implementing Clean Energy Reform
To implement its Energy Reform and National Climate Change Strategy, Mexico has established clean energy and emission reduction goals as well as requirements to acquire clean energy certificates starting in 2018.
Climate Change Litigation Issues & Updates
The Wave of Climate Change Tort Suits Against Industry Continues
The city and county of Boulder, Colorado, and the county of San Miguel (Colorado) have filed suit against two fossil fuel companies in an effort to hold them liable for their alleged contributions to climate change. This is the first such lawsuit by noncoastal communities against the fossil fuel industry.
Suit Involving Academic Dispute over the Science of Climate Change Is Withdrawn
A Stanford University professor has voluntarily withdrawn his $10 million libel lawsuit against a critic and the National Academy of Sciences' official journal for publishing a report disputing his research on renewable energy sources in the United States. The critic and 20 coauthors had published a paper claiming the professor's paper "used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions."
Coalition of States Files Suit Over EPA Decision to Reevaluate Fuel Emissions Standards
In a suit that could directly affect the greenhouse gas fuel emissions standards the light-duty auto industry must comply with during the next several years, California, along with 16 other states and the District of Columbia, has filed a Petition for Review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's April 13, 2018, notice of withdrawal of the Final Determination of the Mid-Term Evaluation of greenhouse gas emission standards for model year 2022–25 light-duty vehicles. Those standards had been issued under the Obama Administration.
Climate Change Transactional Issues & Updates
Solar Panel Tariffs Shaping Up to Be a Speed Bump Rather than a Roadblock
The Trump Administration's tariffs on solar panels and cells imported into the United States may not impact the industry as much as previously predicted. Analysts anticipate that solar installations in 2018 will roughly match those in 2017, and the tariffs' impact appears to have been less than feared for a number of reasons. Still, forecasters estimate that over the next four years, installations will be 10 to 15 percent lower than they would have been without the tariffs.
Decriminalization of Incidental Takes Under Migratory Bird Treaty Act Is Potential Boon for Energy Industry
The Trump Administration's Interior Department has issued an Opinion decriminalizing "incidental takes"—the taking/killing of a migratory bird that results from, but is not the purpose of, an activity—by concluding that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act does not prohibit incidental takes. This is a reversal from an Obama-era interpretation that the Act criminalized any action killing a migratory bird. However, companies may still be subject to liability pursuant to the broader definition of "take" under the Endangered Species Act or the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
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