The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently unveiled its new Power Plants and Neighboring Communities mapping tool as part of its commitment to Environmental Justice (“EJ”).
For the second time in as many weeks, the acting head of the EPA’s enforcement office has issued a memorandum (the “Memorandum”) outlining additional actions to advance the EPA’s environmental justice (“EJ”) goals.
In February 2021, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee directed the Division of Corporation Finance to focus on climate-related disclosures and use their insights to begin updating the SEC’s 2010 guidance, and the SEC has recently closed the comment period on potential climate actions in which it specifically asked whether the SEC should focus any future disclosure regulations solely on climate or whether it should consider Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors more broadly.
The acting head of the EPA’s enforcement office issued a Memorandum on June 21, 2021, that outlines actions to advance the EPA’s environmental justice (“EJ”) goals in criminal enforcement matters. Previously EPA Administrator Regan shared a message on April 7 with EPA employees that affirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to EJ.
Partners Maggie Peloso and Tom Wilson recently sat down to continue the “conVErsation” started by partner Devika Kornbacher and counsel Sarah Fortt about the origins of the firm’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Taskforce.
On April 30, 2021, the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (“OECA”) of Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued new internal guidance (the “Memorandum”) outlining actions intended to strengthen enforcement and advance the protection of overburdened communities — meaning minority, low-income, tribal, or indigenous populations or geographic locations in the United States that potentially experience disproportionate environmental harms and risks.
On March 31, 2021, President Joe Biden announced the American Jobs Plan (the Plan). The Plan proposes approximately $2 trillion in government funding over the next decade focused on infrastructure, the electric grid, high-speed broadband, climate change, and jobs creation.
On January 13, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (“the EPA”) announced its enforcement results for fiscal year (“FY”) 2020.
On January 27, 2021, President Biden released an “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” Among a host of sweeping proclamations and orders involving foreign and domestic policy on climate change, the Biden administration has reaffirmed that Environmental Justice (“EJ”) is one of its core concerns.
While the texts of environmental laws do not change without an act of Congress, executive branch agencies that enforce those laws have a great deal of discretion in what kinds of violations to prioritize for investigation and enforcement and how aggressive to be in applying them to new or ambiguous fact patterns.
While news stories and campaign rhetoric can frequently create expectations of immediate shifts after a change in administration, most changes happen slowly in the federal government, and constraints on resources means that many areas of environmental regulation and permitting policy will remain unchanged in the early years of the new administration.
The Biden administration identified environmental justice (“EJ”) as a campaign priority and the Biden-Harris team has continually emphasized its commitment to environmental justice, stating that the administration would “[e]nsure that environmental justice is a key consideration in” among other things “righting wrongs in communities that bear the brunt of pollution.”