Monthly Archives: July 2021

Will More Money Managers Start Voting Shares Based on Climate Issues? Fidelity International Gets in the Game

In the wake of Engine No.1’s successful effort to elect more climate-friendly directors at Exxon and the increasingly aggressive action by BlackRock to take climate into account in its investment management decisions, the whole world is watching for further evidence of capitalism’s efforts to save the world from, well, capitalism.

The latest news is from Fidelity International (not to be confused with Fidelity Management and Research),… More

New York Utility Company Seeks Proposals to Electrify Buildings Instead of Building More Gas Pipelines

On July 12, 2021, in a landmark utility effort to electrify New York City’s building stock, Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for non-pipeline solutions (NPS). NPSs avoid the need for investment in pipelines and traditional distribution system infrastructure by meeting on-system natural gas demand with alternative solutions like energy efficiency and heat pumps. Con Ed’s RFP seeks customer-sited load relief solutions that enable the abandonment of leak-prone pipes through full building electrification while maintaining system reliability.… More

Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland Expand Utility Regulators’ Mandate to Include Climate Considerations, Marking an Emerging Trend by State Legislatures

Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland all passed legislation this summer that expands the raison d’etre of state utility regulatory bodies to include addressing the impacts of climate change. These efforts mark an emerging trend of legislative bodies directing utility regulators to help advance climate policies. This enhanced vision of utility regulation gives me hope in the fight against climate change.

Despite the fact that utility regulators play a huge role in our energy sector–the sector primarily responsible for historical U.S.… More

Maui Needs a NPDES Permit; What’s Next for WOTUS?

Last week, District Judge Susan Mollway ruled that the County of Maui must obtain a NPDES permit for discharges to groundwater by the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility.  It is the first trial court decision applying the factors identified by Justice Breyer in the SCOTUS Maui decision. 

Judge Mollway found the most important factors to be what she considered to be the relative short distance from the discharge to the surface water (½ mile) and the relatively short time between the groundwater discharge and the surface water discharge (as little as 84 days and,… More

Will Increased Enforcement Speed Cleanup of Superfund Sites in EJ Communities?

Earlier this month, EPA circulated a memorandum on “Strengthening Environmental Justice Through Cleanup Enforcement Actions.”  It could significantly increase the volume of CERCLA enforcement actions.  More importantly, if implemented appropriately, it could help reduce the risks posed by Superfund sites in overburdened EJ communities. 

The trick of course will indeed be how it’s implemented.  If this becomes just another in a long line of screeds on the subject that all Superfund cleanups take too long,… More

NESCOE Report Advances Governors’ Demands for Climate Leadership at ISO-NE

The managers of the New England States Committee on Electricity (“NESCOE”) recently released a report (“Report”) to New England’s governors to advance its shared vision for a clean, affordable, and reliable 21st-century electric grid. The Report is the latest development that highlights the growing tension between the states’ decarbonization policies on the one hand, and ISO-NE’s wholesale market rules, on the other. The Report calls for critical changes to three elements of New England’s regional energy system: wholesale market design,… More

At What Level of Government Are We Going to Regulate Climate Change? (Hint — It Is a Global Problem.)

Last week, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that the Berkeley ordinance essentially banning use of natural gas in new construction was not preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.  I’m not here to opine on the legal merits of the decision.  I will note note that the Judge’s reliance on textual analysis and the asserted federalist bent of SCOTUS’s conservative wing might give this opinion more life than one would otherwise expect – though I’ll also note that the conservative wing’s federalist proclivities often seem to turn on whether they agree with the underlying policy at issue. … More

Local Communities and Environmental Groups Bring Challenge to the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting’s Regulations for Siting and Permitting Major Renewable Energy Facilities

On June 29, 2021, a cohort of New York local governments (including many where large-scale solar projects are currently proposed), community organizations, and avian interest groups filed a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court (the State’s trial-level court) against the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (“ORES”).  ORES is required to respond to the allegations no later than 30 days from receipt.

The ORES was created under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act,… More