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Corporate Environmental Lawyer celebrates five years of blogging with a new design!

In honor of the fifth anniversary of our entry into the blogosphere, we are excited to announce a major revamp of the Corporate Environmental Lawyer’s design. In addition to the blog’s sophisticated new look, our readers will enjoy:

  1. Mobile and tablet responsive technology
  2. A trending-categories cloud list
  3. Easy-to-use social sharing buttons
  4. Streamlined navigation menus

  5. Access to all five years of posts

In the five years since our Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety (EHS) practice created the Corporate Environmental Lawyer, we have written more than 500 posts, provided critical updates and insights on issues across the EHS legal sectors, and been ranked among LexisNexis’s top 50 blogs. As we wish to continue to grow the blog and provide our readers with the information they want to know, Corporate Environmental Lawyer editors, Steven M. Siros and Genevieve J. Essig, encourage you to participate by suggesting new topics.  We look forward to continuing to provide content covering the issues that are driving changes in environmental law.

Back to the Future: EIA’s Analysis of EPA’s Clean Power Plan Concludes that Power Sector CO2 Emissions May Drop to 1980s Levels

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza


In June 2014, EPA issued its proposed Clean Power Plan to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.  The Clean Power Plan proposes to limit carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units, including steam generating, integrated gasification combined cycle, or stationary combustion turbines operating or under construction by January 8, 2014.  In August 2014, Representative Lamar Smith requested that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) analyze the effects of the Clean Power Plan on, among other things, greenhouse gas emissions, electric markets, and coal plants retired.

Last week, the EIA released its report with an extensive press release describing the report’s high-level conclusions.  This week, the EIA followed up with a brief article that offers a stark conclusion driven by data from the Plan:  In its estimation, power sector CO2 emissions will fall to about 1,500 million metric tons per year by 2025, a level not seen since the early 1980s.  Much of this reduction would be achieved by an expected doubling of the amount of coal-fired power that would be shuttered with the Plan over the amount that would be shuttered but for the Plan.  According to the EIA: (i) but for the Plan, coal-fired power would be reduced by 40 gigawatts by 2030; and (ii) with the Plan, coal-fired power would be reduced by about 90 gigawatts in the same time period.

The following graph concisely illustrates the magnitude of this Plan:


Source:  EIA

The EIA's full report is available here.

EPA Revises Its Regulatory Agenda, A Flurry of Activity Expected in the Next Few Months

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza


Last week, the EPA-specific listing on the website of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs was updated with timelines on the EPA’s regulatory efforts.   Of potential interest, in chronological order of expected release, are the following rules:

Continue reading "EPA Revises Its Regulatory Agenda, A Flurry of Activity Expected in the Next Few Months" »

New Report Confirms Environmental Sustainability is Good Business

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson


A new study released by Morgan Stanley confirms that investors appear to place a premium on sustainability yet believe that sustainable investments require some financial sacrifice. Two key findings include: 1) nearly three-quarters (72%) of those surveyed believe that companies with good environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices can achieve higher profitability and are better long-term investments; and 2) 54% believe that sustainable investing involves a financial trade off.

The study set out to analyze potential performance and risk differences between sustainable and traditional investments. A range of studies on sustainable investment performance were reviewed along with performance data for 10,228 open-ended mutual funds and 2,874 Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs) based in the U.S.  Through the review, Morgan Stanley concluded that investing in sustainability has usually met, and often exceeded, the performance of comparable traditional investments. Specific findings include:

  1. Sustainable equity mutual funds met or exceeded the median return of traditional equity funds for 64% of the time periods examined.
  2. Sustainable equity mutual funds also had equal or lower median volatility for 64% of the time periods examined.
  3. For the longest time period (seven years trailing, 2008-2014), sustainable equity mutual funds met or exceeded median returns for five out of six different equity classes examined (for example, large-cap growth).
  4. Long-term annual returns of the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index, which comprises firms scoring highly on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, exceeded the S&P 500 by 45 basis points between its inception in 1990 to the end of 2014.

The study was conducted by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. The Institute seeks to accelerate mainstream adoption of sustainable investing by developing industry-leading insights and scalable finance solutions to address global challenges.

CO2 Levels Cross Symbolic Threshhold

Siros_Steven_COLORBy Steven M. Siros


According to recently released data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the monthly average carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere now exceeds 400 parts per million (ppm). Although this isn't the first time that the threshold had been exceeded, with observational sites in the Arctic observing exceedances in the spring of 2012 and at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory in 2013, this is the first time that the average has exceeded 400 parts per million on a global basis. Carbon dioxide emissions are expected to stay above this threshold through at least May, when atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide typically peak.

Although the consequences of climate change are not expected to change dramatically now that carbon dioxide levels exceed 400 ppm, according to Dr. Pieter Tans, who leads NOAA's Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases Group, passing 400 ppm is a significant milestone as it illustrates how much human activity has contributed to carbon dioxide levels. The fact that this symbolic threshold has now been eclipsed may also bring additional pressure to bear on world leaders when they get together at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.

Please click here to go to NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory's website.

Earth Day 2015: Trivia — April 21 (Answers)

Essig_Genevieve_COLORBy Genevieve J. Essig


Approximately what percentage of of the U.S.'s electricity demand is supplied by wind power? According to the U.S. Department of Energy's recent report Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, as of 2013, U.S. electricity demand served by wind energy had tripled from 1.5% of total end-use demand in 2008 to 4.5%.

Earth Day 2015 Special Series — April 20-24, 2015


In celebration of Earth Day 2015, the Corporate Environmental Lawyer blog will host a special campaign April 20-24 featuring a daily Earth Day trivia question, as well as unique news and stories about Earth Day events and activities taking place around the world, in addition to important developments in environmental law. As environmental lawyers, this is a good day for us to remember the contributions our clients and friends make to improving the environment in the communities where we live and work.

Earth Day 2015 commemorates the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day held on April 22, 1970. This year more than 1 billion people in 192 countries will participate in Earth Day activities and events, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

To celebrate Earth Day, the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day organizers will host a free event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, April 18, featuring presentations and remarks by U.S. and UN leaders, as well as entertainment throughout the day from No Doubt, Usher, Fall Out Boy, Mary J. Blige, Train, and others. This special event will be web streamed live at

You are invited to follow and participate in our Earth Day special series next week at  and follow us on Twitter @JennerBlockEHS.

If you have any questions about our Corporate Environmental Lawyer blog or this special series, please feel free to contact me at or 312-923-2756.

OECD Recommends More Tariffs and Taxes to Manage Water Risks

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson


Today's financing mechanisms cannot cover the cost of upgrading old water systems, due to public budget cuts, a failure to reflect future costs in water charges and a drop in tariff revenues as city dwellers use less water. A new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) titled "Water and Cities: Ensuring Sustainable Futures" recommends redesigning tariffs and taxes to discourage wasteful or costly practices and seeking new sources of funding from users who generate the biggest costs.

The report also recommends that cities:

  • Improve the way they use taxes and tariffs. Taxes should be designed so those who benefit most from water systems or generate extra costs foot more of the bill. Tariffs should better reflect water scarcity and the cost of upgrading infrastructure. For example, new taxes could be aimed at property developers, who need first-rate water services.
  • Harness more private investment from financiers, property developers and entrepreneurs to finance new infrastructure or facilities like desalination or wastewater plants. Capital tied up in water infrastructures could be used to generate liquidity for new projects.
  • Drive innovation in water management by changing regulations that favor old technologies, having tariffs and taxes reflect the true cost of inefficient practices, and introducing performance-based contracts that reward objectives like conserving water.
  • Encourage co-operation between cities and their surroundings, e.g. using farmland as a buffer against floods or sending city run-off to be used for rural irrigation. Set up institutions that can manage water at different scales through urban-rural partnerships or through co-operation between neighboring towns and cities.
  • Where they exist, empower water regulators to protect the public interest and increase transparency in urban water supply and sanitation to make service providers more accountable, and to introduce more independence and technical underpinning in the setting of tariffs.

OECD projects global water demand will increase some 55 percent by 2050 when global population tops 9 billion. While OECD's 34 member countries currently enjoy water security, the report concludes now is the time to address water-related challenges presented by rapid urbanization that will adversely impact cities throughout the world.

OECD's report addresses global concerns but is good insight for U.S. cities facing water scarcity and drought concerns, now and in the future. It is well understood in the U.S. that the improvement of water infrastructure is key to effectively managing water resources.

More information about OECD's water related work including further insights into the new report is available at

FY2016 EPA Budget Proposal


By E. Lynn Grayson


EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee regarding EPA's proposed 2016 fiscal year budget. EPA's 2016 fiscal year from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016. EPA is seeking an increase of $453M over the FY2015 budget to $8.6B proposed in FY2016.

FY2016 budget highlights include funding to address:

1.     Making a visible difference in communities across the country—efforts focused on coordination with other federal agencies, states, tribes and stakeholders to provide community support for needed assistance and support for capacity building, planning, and implementation of environmental protection programs;

2.    Addressing climate change and improving air quality—actions to reduce climate change and support the President's Climate Action Plan including new proposed funding for greenhouse gases through commonsense standards, guidelines and voluntary programs;

3.    Protecting the Nation's Waters—focus on to ensure waterways are clean and drinking water is safe because there are far reaching effects when rivers, lakes and oceans become polluted;

4.    Taking steps to improve chemical facility safety—support to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to facility workers and operators, communities and responders;

5.    Protecting our lands—continued work to cleanup hazardous and nonhazardous wastes that can migrate to air, groundwater and surface water and soils;

6.    Ensuring the safety of chemicals and preventing pollution—expand chemical safety programs and enhance quality, accessibility and usefulness of information about commercial chemicals and pesticides;

7.    Continuing EPA's commitment to innovative research & development—R&D efforts to address the interplay between air quality, climate change, water quality, healthy communities and chemical safety;

8.    Supporting state and tribal partners—new funds for categorical grants and setting the bar for continuing partnership efforts with states and tribes;

9.    Maintaining a forward looking and adaptive EPA—emphasis on physical footprint including space optimization and essential renovations of laboratories throughout the U.S.; and,

10.    Reducing and eliminating programs—elimination of programs that have served their purpose and accomplished their mission for a cost savings of $44M.

For more information on the proposed budget, visit