On Thursday, June 22, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a series of actions implementing its new authority to review the safety of chemicals already in U.S. commerce under the recently amended Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). The actions, required under the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century (LCSA), reflect Congress’ mandate to reinvigorate and expand the EPA’s long moribund program for reviewing so-called “existing chemicals” (chemicals previously introduced into U.S. commerce and listed on the TSCA inventory) to identify and manage unreasonable risks to human health and the environment.1
President Trump’s decision earlier this month to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement—an international, nonbinding agreement to take steps to limit global temperature rise—followed a series of moves at the federal level to dismantle Obama-era restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). For example, the administration has rescinded major elements of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan,1 initiated a review of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2015 Clean Power Plan restrictions on carbon emissions from power plants,2 and extended the implementation dates for restrictions on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on public lands.3
(Houston) – On June 14, Akin Gump lawyers held the firm’s semiannual energy briefing in its Houston office, with guests in attendance at the event as well as via webinar around the world.
On June 12, 2017, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced another extension to the effective date of the Obama-era rule amending federal Risk Management Program (RMP) requirements for chemical facilities, oil refineries and other industries. The EPA has extended the rule’s effective date until February 19, 2019, in order to allow time for its reconsideration of the rule and provide additional comment opportunities. The 20-month extension follows an initial three-month extension issued in March 2017.
(Houston) – Lawyers and advisors at Akin Gump held a briefing today, titled “The Global Energy Industry: A Look to the Year Ahead in 2017,” addressing some of the big issues likely to affect the global energy industry in the coming year. The event was held as an in-person briefing in the firm’s Houston office and as a webinar for participants around the world.
Globe Law & Business, in its new book Oil and Gas Sale and Purchase Agreements, has included several chapters written by Akin Gump lawyers. The chapters and their corresponding authors are as follows:
- “Conditions precedent and deferred completions,” by oil and gas partner John LaMaster
- “Oil and gas warranties,” by oil and gas counsel Caroline-Lucy Moran
- “Environmental provisions in upstream acquisitions and divestitures,” by environment and natural resources partner emeritus Paul Gutermann
- “Decommissioning,” by oil and gas counsel Nicholas Antonas and partner Marc Hammerson
- “Anti-corruption provisions,” by international trade counsel Nicole D’Avanzo and partner Tatman Savio
- Oil and gas boilerplate provisions,” by John LaMaster
Several eastern regional transmission organizations and independent system operators (RTO/ISO) are talking seriously about pricing carbon in their markets. NEPOOL, the participant voting organization on wholesale market matters across the New England states, is exploring carbon pricing through its Integrating Markets and Public Policy Initiative (“IMAPP Initiative”), which seeks to “incorporate the [New England] states’ goals of decarbonizing our industry over time” by having ISO-NE markets “encourage the decarbonization of the generating fleet.” Carbon pricing was on the agenda as recently as NEPOOL’s September 14 IMAPP Initiative meeting, with Exelon Corp., one of the nation’s largest generators, presenting its vision of a potential $42/ton CO2price, noting that, “[u]nder the carbon price proposal, every energy bid will have a carbon component determined by the carbon price (which is fixed for all resources) and the unique carbon emission rate of the resource in question.” ISO-NE’s comments at the meeting expressed support for a carbon pricing mechanism that is “[l]ikely to integrate harmoniously with existing energy and capacity market designs” and “be technically feasible.” ISO-NE’s CEO, Gordon vanWelie, noted that organized markets are distorted by a failure to price carbon, stating that, “in my 16 years, this is the most vulnerable I’ve seen the market construct yet.”1
On April 22, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a Concept Release seeking public comments on potential revisions to Regulation S-K, the SEC’s principal rules governing disclosure requirements for registration statements and periodic and current reports. The Concept Release appears to respond, in part, to a growing demand among nongovernmental organizations for increased disclosure requirements concerning environmental and climate change matters which, if unchecked, could increase industry’s regulatory burdens significantly. Interested parties now have an opportunity to comment on the disclosure requirements, including whether the requirements appropriately balance the costs of disclosure with the benefits. The deadline for submitting comments is July 21, 2016.