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 July 10, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a package of bills intended to accelerate critical infrastructure projects across the State aimed at achieving monumental climate and clean energy goals while also creating up to 400,000 jobs. With the goal of “building more, faster,” this infrastructure streamlining package will take effect immediately, and includes portions of Newsom’s previously proposed infrastructure package reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).Continue Reading Build More, Faster? Newsom Signs Infrastructure and Budget Legislation
On May 19, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a legislative package of 10 bills reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) intended to speed up construction of clean energy projects by streamlining regulations for solar, wind, and battery storage projects, transit and regional rail infrastructure projects, water storage projects, and the Delta Tunnel plan. The proposed measures were designed as mechanisms to accelerate such projects to completion in order to maximize California’s share of federal infrastructure dollars available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and expedite the implementation of projects that meet the state’s ambitious economic, climate, and social goals.Continue Reading CEQA Reforms for Clean Energy Projects: Still Possible Despite Senate Budget Committee Rejection?
Last week, in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, the Ninth Circuit ruled the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) preempts local bans on the installation of natural gas infrastructure in new construction. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit held that EPCA’s preemption of local efforts to regulate the energy use of natural gas appliances is to be construed broadly, applying equally to regulations that affect the use of such appliances. In other words, because the City of Berkeley’s ban on natural gas pipes in new construction “render[ed] the gas appliances useless,” it had improperly infringed on the federal government’s exclusive power to regulate the use of gas appliances.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Berkeley’s Ban on Natural Gas in New Construction, Dealing Blow to California’s Electrification Efforts
In the latest effort by the Biden administration to promote consideration of climate and environmental justice impacts in federal decision-making, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently issued interim guidance for federal agencies analyzing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under the new guidance, which is similar to previous guidance that had been withdrawn under the Trump administration, NEPA review documents generally will be expected to quantify GHG emissions caused by federal actions, discuss the resulting climate impacts, and incorporate environmental justice considerations. While the guidance recommends methods for conducting the necessary technical analysis, it sidesteps key legal issues surrounding climate change analysis under NEPA, leaving federal agencies—and project proponents seeking federal approvals or funding—with difficult questions to resolve.Continue Reading Updated CEQ Guidance for Analysis of GHG Emissions Sidesteps Key Legal Issues