Regulatory policy

Climate Policy Update: SEC ESG Efforts, Satellite Monitoring, Carbon Offsets and More – Commentary

Department of Defense reports on impact of climate change on military readiness
SEC Commissioner Outlines SEC’s ESG Efforts
The Federal Insurance Office will assess the climate-related financial risk
FWHA announces $7.1 million to address greenhouse gas emissions from highway construction
Environmental Protection Agency urged to revise biofuel standards
Experts warn of drought due to climate change
Cut Inflation Act gives IRS new climate powers
$28 billion invested in clean technologies following climate law
DOE Seeks Comments on Program to Boost Clean Energy in Rural Areas
US Geological Survey takes control of Landsat 9 to help fight climate change
The Center for American Progress argues that the CFTC should improve market oversight of carbon offsets
Poll finds half of voters say climate change matters midterm
White House to research sunlight-reflecting technology to fight climate change
Governor Hochul announces over $13 million to support farmers in the fight against climate change
Wisconsin Governor’s Election Could Affect State’s Clean Energy Efforts
New Jersey accuses oil and gas producers of covering up oil and gas climate risks
Electric vehicles are becoming more popular in Texas
Pennsylvania proposes new emissions limits at oil and gas sites
California diesel truck ban sparks debate

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

Department of Defense reports on impact of climate change on military readiness

A recent Department of Defense report noted that climate change “undermines military preparedness and imposes increasingly unsustainable costs on the Department of Defense.”

SEC Commissioner Outlines SEC’s ESG Efforts

On October 17, 2022, Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Jaime Lizárraga spoke at an event in London, outlining the SEC’s efforts to ensure that environmental, social and governance (ESG) information ) are not misleading. He noted that the SEC’s proposed rules aim to improve climate risk disclosures for issuers, strengthen ESG disclosures for registered funds and investment advisers, and modernize ESG-related fund naming rules.

The Federal Insurance Office will assess the climate-related financial risk

On October 18, 2022, the Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office issued a request for public comment regarding a “proposed data collection from property and casualty insurers regarding current and historical underwriting data on home insurance.”

FWHA announces $7.1 million to address greenhouse gas emissions from highway construction

On October 20, 2022, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced $7.1 million in funding for 25 different state DOTs participating in the FHWA Climate Challenge. The Climate Challenge aims to “quantify the impacts of sustainable pavements and demonstrate ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in highway projects using sustainable construction materials”. This funding is being made available to advance the Biden-Harris administration’s federal clean buying initiative.

Environmental Protection Agency urged to revise biofuel standards

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with a bipartisan group of senators, recently wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging the establishment of “robust renewable volume obligations (RVOs) and expanded in its upcoming “Set” rule under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Experts warn of drought due to climate change

The US Drought Monitor has estimated that approximately 84% of the continental United States currently has conditions between abnormally dry and exceptionally dry conditions.

Cut Inflation Act gives IRS new climate powers

With the enactment of the Cut Inflation Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for providing approximately $270 billion in climate-related tax incentives. However, as the IRS seeks to increase its staff, Republicans are campaigning against its increased funding.

$28 billion invested in clean technologies following climate law

An estimated $28 billion in manufacturing investment has been announced since the Curbing Inflation Act came into force – mostly in the manufacturing sectors of electric vehicles, batteries and solar panels. Additionally, energy and environmental policy firm Energy Innovation predicts the law “could increase U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.65 to 0.77 percent in 2030,” while the Blue Green Alliance predicts the measure “could create 9 million jobs over the next few years”. decade”.

DOE Seeks Comments on Program to Boost Clean Energy in Rural Areas

On October 13, 2022, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a request for information on the new program for energy improvements in rural or remote areas. Included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the program “reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s continued commitment to ensuring that no community is left behind in the historic transition to a clean energy future.”

US Geological Survey takes control of Landsat 9 to help fight climate change

The DOI’s US Geological Survey recently took over operations on Landsat 9, a satellite to help monitor land, water and other natural resources. According to Home Secretary Deb Haaland, the satellite seeks to “support environmental sustainability and climate resilience through high-resolution satellite imagery”.

The Center for American Progress argues that the CFTC should improve market oversight of carbon offsets

A recent report by the policy institute Center for American Progress argued that carbon offsets provide “no guarantees that they actually work”. As such, the Center for American Progress calls on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to regulate the carbon offset market. In June 2022, the CTFC announced a voluntary carbon market meeting to:

discuss issues related to supply and demand for high-quality carbon offsets, including product standardization and data needed to support the integrity of greenhouse gas emissions avoidance and reduction claims greenhouse carbon offsets.

Poll finds half of voters say climate change matters midterm

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll reported that about half of registered voters say climate change is either “very important” or “one of the most important issues” in their vote for Congress. Specifically, about 79% of Democrats noted that climate change is “at least very important to their vote,” while about 46% of independents and 27% of Republicans reported similar priorities.

White House to research sunlight-reflecting technology to fight climate change

The White House is overseeing a five-year research plan to evaluate various technological methods of reflecting sunlight. Although there are concerns that such a technique could be harmful, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy “recognizes the importance of this research topic” in light of the climate crisis.

Governor Hochul announces over $13 million to support farmers in the fight against climate change

On October 18, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced $13 million in funding to support “agricultural water quality conservation projects, which will benefit 50 farms, improve water quality in ponds priority watersheds and protect the environment”. The winning projects span 24 soil and water conservation districts in the county.

Wisconsin Governor’s Election Could Affect State’s Clean Energy Efforts

The future of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) hinges on the outcome of Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election. The race between Governor Tony Evers and Tim Michels will determine how the PSC leverages money from the Cut Inflation Act and authorizes renewable energy projects.

New Jersey accuses oil and gas producers of covering up oil and gas climate risks

Attorney General Matthew Platkin, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips and the American Petroleum Institute, “alleging that they knowingly made false statements to mislead the public about the existence of climate change and the extent to which their fossil fuel products have aggravated anthropogenic global warming”.

Electric vehicles are becoming more popular in Texas

The number of electric vehicles (EVs) registered in Texas has increased by 55% between 2020 and 2021, with 81,000 EVs by the end of 2021. The state government is preparing for EVs to overtake the market and roads, especially as neighboring states experience increased consumer interest in EV.

Pennsylvania proposes new emissions limits at oil and gas sites

On October 12, 2022, the Environmental Quality Board of Pennsylvania approved a rule titled “Control of [volatile organic compound] Emissions from Conventional Oil and Natural Gas Sources”. The rule meets federal standards, and if not finalized by Dec. 16, 2022, the state faces highway funding penalties in 2023.

California diesel truck ban sparks debate

In response to the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Advanced Clean Fleet resolution and Advanced Clean Trucks regulations, members of the transportation industry have expressed concern. More specifically, rising costs and lack of infrastructure are of concern to the industry. CARB may modify its proposals after its October 27, 2022 public hearing before final reviews in early 2023.

For more 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.