Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), which administers the federal renewable fuels program known as the Renewable Fuel Standards (“RFS”), has long considered the potential impact of electric vehicles on the RFS. Specifically: how can the RFS (under which transactable credits known as Renewable Identification Numbers (“RINs”) are generated by the creation and use of renewable fuels) be adapted to address renewable fuel converted not into traditional compressed or liquified fuel, but instead into electricity used to power electric vehicles?

When President Jimmy Carter installed rooftop solar panels on the White House, public support for adoption of renewable energy was at a then all-time high and many imagined the possibility of rooftop solar on their own homes and in their own communities. Yet, barriers such as the high up-front installation cost of panels, and of

The American Society for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”) is expected to release a revised international standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (“ESAs”) in December of 2021 that will clarify a number of key components of the standard and elevate the importance of per/poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”).

Phase I ESAs are conducted by many parties when they become involved in the sale, acquisition, development, or financing of a piece of land, including developers, owners, and parties who provide loans for or serve as tax equity investors on renewable energy projects.  The Phase I ESAs allow those parties to get a glimpse into the environmental condition of the land and identify any potential contamination on-site.  Some of those parties – by acquiring an ownership or leasehold interest in the land, or by becoming an operator of the site – take on potential environmental liability if there have been releases on-site, including liability under the strict liability scheme of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”).  A defense to CERCLA liability is available if the party conducted certain diligence that complies with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s All Appropriate Inquiries (“AAI”) standard, and if the party exercises appropriate care with respect to issues identified.  Environmental consultants prepare those Phase I ESAs and use the current ASTM standard as a guideline to prepare a thorough report and comply with AAI.

On January 25, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) withdrew its 1995 “once in always in” guidance. Under that guidance, facilities classified as “major sources” of hazardous air pollutants (“HAP”) as of the “first compliance date” of a maximum achievable control technology (“MACT”) standard under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act are required to comply permanently with the MACT standard. Now, EPA’s current policy is that a major source that limits its potential to emit (“PTE”) to below major source thresholds can become an area source and will no longer be subject to the major source MACT.

The Clean Air Act defines “major source” as “any stationary source or group of stationary sources located within a contiguous area and under common control that emits or has the potential to emit considering controls, in the aggregate, 10 tons per year or more of any hazardous air pollutant or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of hazardous air pollutants.” This definition expressly allows PTE to be calculated “considering controls,” and does not address the timing for when a source will be classified as a major source. As a result, EPA found that its “once in always in” policy “created an artificial time limit” contrary to the plain language of the Clean Air Act and must be withdrawn.