By: Alexander Bandza
The authors of the Corporate Environmental Lawyer Blog are pleased to announce the launch of a new feature, “Environmental & Energy Cert. Petition Watch.” This feature will provide weekly updates on petitions for certiorari filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that may be of interest to environmental and energy lawyers. In the past week, the following EHS-related petitions have been filed, denied, or granted. For a full list of EHS-related cert petitions submitted from August 2013 through the present (as of December 17, 2013), click here.
Lower Court: 2d. Cir.
Subject: Supremacy Clause
Question(s) Presented: [W]hether state “dual impact” occupational safety and health laws that regulate workers as workers, not as members of the general public, can simultaneously be laws of general applicability that are not subject to federal preemption.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added three contaminated sites in Indiana to the Superfund National Priorities List:
1. Beck's Lake in South Bend, a public recreation area contaminated with arsenic from past waste disposal activities;
2. Garden City Ground Water Plume in Garden City where drinking water wells are impacted with TCE; and,
3. Keystone Corridor Ground Water Contamination site in Indianapolis where PCE and TCE have been found in soil and groundwater from former dry cleaning operations.
More information about EPA's latest additions to the National Priorities List is available at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm. A complete list of EPA Region 5 Superfund sites can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/region5/cleanup/index.htm.
On December 12, 2013, the United States Energy Department announced that clean energy tax credits of $150 million had been awarded to support domestic clean energy manufacturing. The awards were provided to 12 businesses through the Treasury Department’s Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit 48C Program, which provides developers with a tax credit of 30 percent for the manufacture of certain types of energy equipment. As a condition of receiving these credits, these clean energy projects must be placed in service by 2017.
The $150 million awarded represents Phase II of the program. Phase I involved the availability of the tax credit, funded at $2.3 billion, to 183 domestic clean manufacturing facilities. Phase II represents the unused credits from Phase I of the program.
In an associated press release, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stated: “Cost-effective, efficient manufacturing plays a critical role in continuing U.S. leadership in clean energy innovation, and the tax credits announced today will help reduce carbon pollution from our vehicles and buildings; create new jobs and supply more clean energy projects in the United States and abroad with equipment made in America…”
In sum, the awards will be used for:
- Carrier Corporation’s expanded production for its condensed gas product line, which includes the most energy efficient gas furnaces on the market;
- Corning Incorporated’s expansion of its diesel emissions control products facility;
- Cree Inc.’s production of 304 million next generation LED lighting systems;
- Delphi Automotive Systems LLC’s project to reduce its production and engineering costs associated with the electric vehicles it produces;
- Ford Motor Company’s continued investment in producing electric vehicles;
- General Motors Company’s continued development of more propulsion technologies associated with its electric vehicles;
- Jyoti Americas, LLC’s expansion related to the only fully-automated lattice transmission tower manufacturing plant in the United States;
- LM Wind Power Blades (ND) Inc.’s expansion of its wind blade facility;
- MC Ionic Solutions US Inc.’s production of electrolyte solutions for lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles;
- Natel Energy Inc.’s equipping of a facility to produce hydropower turbines;
- OSRAM SYLVANIA Inc.’s expansion related to its LED systems for automotive low/high beam projectors; and
- Southwire Company’s expansion, which will allow the increased manufacture of electricity distribution wire.
Additionally, the awards will support thousands of new manufacturing jobs in nine States and dozens of supply chains throughout the United States. For more detail regarding these awarded tax credits, please click here.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requests comments on the Technical Support Document entitled Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866. The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) is used to estimate the value to society of marginal reductions in carbon emissions. This Technical Support Document explains the derivation of the SCC estimates using three peer reviewed integrated assessment models and provides updated values of the SCC that reflect minor technical corrections to the estimates released in May of this year. OMB requests that comments be submitted electronically to OMB by January 27, 2014 through www.regulations.gov.
The White House revised the social cost of carbon estimate on Nov. 1 to $37 per ton in 2007 dollars for the year 2015, down from the $38-per-ton figure announced earlier this year, based on updated modelling outlined in the technical document. OMB requested comment on all aspects of the document including the integrated assessment models used to develop the figure, how the distribution of estimates should be represented in regulatory impact analyses and the overall approach to developing the figure. OMB said the social cost of carbon estimate is based on the "best available scientific information on the impacts of climate change" in the notice.
The SCC has been the subject of much debate including OMB's proposed increase earlier this year from the 2010 figure of $24 per metric ton to $38 per metric ton. The increase was opposed by several leading industry and trade groups and this opposition is believed to be the cause, at least in part, for OMB's actions: 1) to propose a slight reduction to $37 per metric ton on November 1st; and, 2) to seek further public comment.
The SCC plays an important role in evaluating the potential climate change burden of federal regulations. The SCC will have a significant impact on future federal rulemakings and needs to be fully vetted in an open and transparent process.