In a long-anticipated decision on the reach of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), the Supreme Court significantly narrowed the scope of the wetlands and other waters subject to the CWA’s protections. The Court’s opinion in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, released May 25, 2023, limits waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) to “relatively permanent” water bodies such as streams, oceans, rivers and lakes, and to wetlands with a “continuous surface connection” to those water bodies. The Court’s holding removes a wide swath of previously-protected wetlands from the CWA’s permitting requirements, likely eliminates jurisdiction for many ephemeral and intermittent streams, and spells all but certain doom for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent rulemaking adopting a new definition of WOTUS for CWA purposes.Continue Reading Supreme Court Narrows Scope of Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act in Sackett v. EPA
Daniel Maroon is a member of the Real Estate, Energy, Land Use & Environmental Practice Group in the firm’s San Francisco office.
As cities across California grapple with an ongoing housing crisis and stubbornly high office vacancy rates, policymakers at the state and local levels are beginning to explore ways to encourage projects that convert vacant office space into housing. Downtown San Francisco has experienced particularly high office vacancy rates as it recovers from the pandemic, and it is unsurprising that two of the City’s political leaders—Assemblymember Matt Haney and Mayor London Breed—recently took steps to facilitate office-to-residential conversions.Continue Reading Momentum for Streamlining and Subsidizing Office-to-Residential Conversion Projects Builds in Sacramento and San Francisco
As of January 31st, the deadline for many Bay Area cities and counties to adopt legally compliant Housing Elements now has passed, and many jurisdictions remain without certifications from the…Continue Reading As Deadline for Housing Element Certification Passes, “Builder’s Remedy” and AB 1398 Remedies Loom for Noncompliant Bay Area Cities and Counties
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently published a proposed rule revising regulations that authorize permit issuance for eagle incidental take and eagle nest take under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (the “Act”). In addition to retaining the individual permits already available under the Act, the new rule proposes creation of a “general” permit for qualifying wind energy and power line infrastructure projects.Continue Reading U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Proposes New Regulations Creating General Eagle “Take” Permits for Certain Wind Energy and Power Line Infrastructure Projects
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the “Service”) published a proposed rule listing the tricolored bat as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). The tricolored bat occurs in portions of 39 states, including Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma, which contain a significant concentration of utility-scale wind projects. In combination with the Service’s proposed “endangered” designation for the northern long-eared bat, the new proposed rule could complicate wind energy project permitting across the country.Continue Reading U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing Tricolored Bat as Endangered Under Endangered Species Act
Offshore wind development off the California coast took another step closer to reality on August 10, 2022 with the California Energy Commission’s release of a report setting maximum feasible capacity and megawatt goals for 2030 and 2045. The report constitutes a milestone in the planning process prescribed by AB 525, which requires that the Commission “evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind to achieve reliability, ratepayer, employment, and decarbonization benefits” for 2030 and 2045.Continue Reading California Energy Commission Releases Milestone Offshore Wind Energy Report and Sets Maximum Feasible Capacity and Megawatt Planning Goals for 2030 and 2045
On Friday, November 12, 2021, the Association of Bay Area Government’s (“ABAG’s) Administrative Committee formally denied 27 out of 28 appeals of draft housing allocations filed by local jurisdictions within the Bay Area region. In approving final written denials for nearly all appeals filed by cities and counties within the Bay Area, the Committee signaled strong confidence in the draft Regional Housing Needs Allocation (“RHNA”) Plan prepared by ABAG’s Housing Methodology Committee and approved in May. Local jurisdictions in the Bay Area must now incorporate the Plan’s housing allocations into their Housing Elements.
Continue Reading Association of Bay Area Governments Formally Denies Nearly All Regional Housing Needs Allocation Appeals
On December 30, 2020, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the “Department”) promulgated statewide ambient limits on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions for the years 2030 and 2050 (the “Regulations”). The GHGs covered by the Regulations include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons. The final Regulations constitute a critical step in the implementation of New York State’s climate strategy set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”).
Continue Reading New York Moves Further Toward Implementation of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act with Final Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits for 2030 and 2050
On September 15, 2020, the Army Corps of Engineers published proposed revisions to a wide range of Nationwide Permits (NWP) issued under the Clean Water Act. The revisions respond to Executive Order 13783, directing heads of federal agencies to review existing regulations that potentially burden development or use of domestically produced energy resources. Accordingly, the proposed revisions affect NWPs commonly utilized by utility-scale wind and solar energy projects throughout the country. The Corps will accept comments on the proposed revisions until November 16, 2020. Here are highlights from the proposed revisions.
Continue Reading Army Corps of Engineers Proposes Revising Broad Range of Clean Water Act Nationwide Permits
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently published a final rule (Rule) revising the implementing regulations for the National Environmental Quality Act (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq ) (NEPA). Touted as the first comprehensive revision of CEQ’s NEPA regulations since their creation in 1978, the stated goal of the Rule includes facilitating more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA review by federal agencies.
Continue Reading Final Revisions to NEPA Regulations: Six Highlights from Major Rule Overhaul
In an earlier post, we covered the local Shelter-in-Place (“SIP”) orders, which severely restricted construction activities throughout the Bay Area. This week the participating jurisdictions (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties) updated their SIP orders to ease restrictions on construction. The changes took effect May 4 and will continue through May 31, unless further modified.
Continue Reading New Bay Area COVID-19 Orders Ease Restrictions on Construction and Impose New Safety Protocols