Regulatory policy

Climate Policy Update: Fed Action on Climate Change, Emissions Reduction Roadmap, California Heat Wave – Commentary

New Federal Reserve banking regulator calls for action on climate change
Biden-Harris administration launches website on climate risks
Passage of climate bill leads to new clean energy projects
Industrialists stress the importance of natural gas in the climate transition
New roadmap to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in key sectors
Democrats oppose Virginia’s proposed removal from RGGI
Public engagement committee on air pollution could be disbanded
Climate change leads to severe heat wave in California

This article outlines relevant legal and policy developments related to climate change in the United States over the past week.(1)

New Federal Reserve banking regulator calls for action on climate change

During a speech on September 7, 2022, Federal Reserve Governor Michael Barr delivered a speech outlining his priorities, including a goal for the Federal Reserve “to better assess the long-term climate-related financial risks facing are confronted by the largest institutions”.

Biden-Harris administration launches website on climate risks

On September 8, 2022, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Biden-Harris administration launched a new website, the Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation (CMRA) portal, to:

help communities across the country understand real-time climate-related hazards in their area, analyze projected long-term exposure to those hazards, and identify federal funds to support climate resilience projects for their communities.(2)

Passing Climate Bill Leads to New Clean Energy Efforts

After the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act 2022 (IRA), which contains $396 billion in climate and energy policies, several companies launched large-scale clean energy projects, including:

It was also reported that in the first six months of 2022, renewable sources accounted for 24% of electricity generation in the United States. The White House says the IRA’s focus on reducing particulate pollution from fossil fuels “will avert up to 3,900 premature deaths and up to 100,000 asthma attacks a year by 2030”.(3)

Industrialists stress the importance of natural gas in the climate transition

On September 9, 2022, the manufacturers issued a letter calling on lawmakers to ensure sufficient capacity on interstate gas pipelines. The letter states that “[n]Natural gas-fired power generation is crucial to the transition to a low-carbon electric future” and calls for “national oversight to ensure a smooth transition to decarbonization.”

New roadmap to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in key sectors

On September 8, 2022, Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap, identifying key pathways to effectively reduce emissions in the nation’s most energy-intensive sectors:

  • chemical manufacturing;
  • petroleum refinement;
  • iron and steel;
  • food and drink; and
  • cement and lime.

Democrats oppose Virginia’s proposed removal from RGGI

On September 8, 2022, following Governor Glenn Youngkin’s plan to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), 61 Virginia Democrats penned a letter to the Air Pollution Control Board opposing the regulatory proposal. The letter argues that the governor’s plan is “inappropriate and illegal” because Virginia’s participation in the RGGI is a decision to be made by the General Assembly.

Public engagement committee on air pollution could be disbanded

The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s committee on public engagement could be in jeopardy after board chairman James Patrick Guy said he was “unwilling to … sue the committee at this time.” The Public Engagement Committee was created to improve the transparency of environmental permits following controversial board decisions.

Climate change leads to severe heat wave in California

As California experienced “record” temperatures on September 6, 2022, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) reported that the state’s electricity demand had set an “all-time record.” On September 9, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed new legislation “to help protect Californians from more frequent and severe heat waves caused by climate change”,(4) building on the action plan against California’s extreme heat published earlier in 2022.

For further information on this subject, please contact Kenneth J Markowitz, Stacey H Mitchell, Dario J. Frommer Where Christopher A Treanor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP by phone (+1 202 887 4000) or email ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected] Where [email protected]). The Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP website can be accessed at www.akingump.com.

Leila Fleming, Public Policy Specialist, assisted in the preparation of this article.

Endnotes

(1) For other updates, including upcoming congressional hearings, news and climate events from federal agencies, click here. For the previous week’s update, click here.

(2) “Biden Administration Launches Portal to Help Communities Assess Exposure to Climate Hazards,” press release, September 8, 2022.

(3) “IN FIGURES: The Inflation Reduction Act”, press release, August 15, 2022.

(4) “As Record Heat Wave Continues, Governor Newsom Signs Legislation to Protect Californians from Extreme Heat”, press release, September 9, 2022.