As we enter 2024, we once again review the most significant legislation, policy changes and regulatory actions with respect to climate change taken by California in the past year. In contrast to 2022, which brought a revamp of California’s timeline to complete its transition to zero-emission energy sources and the finalization of a $54 billion climate funding package, the headline grabber in 2023 was the passage of three bills related to corporate emissions and accountability.Continue Reading California Climate Change Legislation, Policy and Regulation – 2023 in Review

Over a year ago, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the “City of Yes”, a plan to update the City’s zoning tools to support small businesses, create affordable housing, and promote sustainability. On December 6, 2023, the first of this trio, known as the “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality” zoning text amendments (“COYCN”) was officially approved by the City Council. The passage of COYCN marks a huge victory in the City Administration’s efforts to decarbonize the City’s energy grid, building stock, vehicles, and waste streams. Continue Reading NYC’s Zoning for Carbon Neutrality is Here to Stay

On October 7, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law two sweeping climate disclosure bills, Senate Bill 253 (“SB 253”), the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, and Senate Bill

Continue Reading Change is in the Air: Everything You Need to Know About California’s Sweeping New Climate Disclosure Laws

In the closing weeks of 2022, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB” or “Board”) approved its final 2022 Scoping Plan, which sets forth a detailed roadmap to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in order for the state to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, with an interim goal of achieving a reduction in GHG emissions of 40% below the 1990 level by 2030 (the goal adopted by the State in 2017’s SB 32).Continue Reading California Air Resources Board Adopts 2022 Scoping Plan

A bill that would have made development and expansion of warehouse and logistics projects more difficult in the Inland Empire has stalled out in the present legislative session. Assembly Bill 2840 passed the State Assembly earlier this year, but failed to make it out of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee at the hearing on June 29, 2022. While the bill may be down, do not count it out. In fact, AB 2840’s author, Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes, is expected to renew her efforts next year to get the potentially de facto moratorium legislation enacted.Continue Reading E-Commerce Development Boom or Bust? Potential Setbacks for Warehouse Development in Inland Empire on Hold for Now

On February 20, 2020, the California Energy Commission approved its first community solar system under the 2019 Energy Code, which allows developers of new homes within Sacramento Municipal Utility District (“SMUD”) to meet mandatory solar energy system requirements through solar agreements with SMUD instead of installation of solar panels on new homes.
Continue Reading CALIFORNIA MANDATORY SOLAR UPDATE: First Community Solar Program Approved by California Energy Commission

Public awareness regarding air pollution in the European Union is at an all-time high and citizens expect authorities to act. In this vein, the European Commission[1] has recently taken a number of direct and indirect actions, including engagement of the Court of Justice of the EU, enforcement measures against car manufacturers and a Europe-specific “Green Deal,” to stem the tide of rising air pollution and become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
Continue Reading EU is Taking Action: The Fight for Clean Air

Today President Trump announced on Twitter that the U.S. was revoking California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act (CAA) which allowed it to impose stricter tailpipe emission standards than the federal ones. California’s Governor Newsom and Attorney General Becerra immediately announced that the state would file suit to challenge the revocation.

While the revocation has been characterized as an immediate rollback, the federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards[1] established under the previous administration, which are consistent with California’s, remain in place. Last year the Trump administration proposed to rollback those standards, freezing the efficiency and emission rules in 2021 and canceling further increases in stringency set through 2028. The final rule has not yet been issued. It is rumored that it will not be, as the administrative record supporting it has many problems and most acknowledge that it faces significant legal hurdles.
Continue Reading Politics Trumps Economics? Trump’s Revocation of California’s Waiver Under the Clean Air Act

A federal district court has ruled that the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) failed to adequately consider climate change when approving a set of oil and gas leases on public lands in Wyoming. The ruling should be of broader interest to developers and energy companies because it offers guidance on how to properly analyze a project’s effects on climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). The law in this area remains unsettled –especially since President Trump rescinded the Obama Administration’s formal guidance on NEPA and climate change in 2017. Future developments are likely, and project sponsors should monitor them closely.

At issue in the case are oil and gas leases covering 300,000 acres of public lands in Wyoming. For each lease sale, BLM prepared an environmental assessment to comply with NEPA. The environmental assessments discussed climate change on a “conceptual level,” without quantifying and analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the lease sales. The court found the analysis inadequate under NEPA, and it halted drilling under the leases and sent the matter back to BLM for additional environmental review. In its lengthy ruling, the court offered concrete guidance to BLM on how to fix its analysis of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and climate change on remand, including that:

  • BLM should quantify GHG emissions that would result from drilling oil and gas wells on the leased parcels.
  • BLM should provide more detail about “downstream” GHG emissions that would result from the consumption of oil and gas produced under the leases.
  • BLM should better evaluate the “cumulative” effect of the leases together with other projects, including by comparing GHG emissions from the leases against available emissions forecasts and other BLM programs.

This guidance may also serve as a useful roadmap to NEPA compliance for other projects, particularly other energy projects. And development opponents are likely to use the court’s reasoning to challenge future NEPA documents. Below we break down the court’s direction on three categories of GHG emissions, each requiring a different level of detail.
Continue Reading District Court Provides Guidance On Climate Change Analysis Under NEPA