SEC to Update Required Climate Related Disclosures

On February 24, acting chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Allison Herren Lee, offered insight into the future direction of mandatory climate change disclosures and new ESG regulation, when she directed the Division of Corporation Finance to enhance its focus on climate related disclosure in public company filings.

The Commission provided guidance in 2010 to public companies regarding then existing disclosure requirements as they apply to climate change matters. For more than a decade we have assisted public companies and their advisors in matters of climate change and sustainability, including compliance with that 2010 SEC guidance.

It is anticipated that the new obligation to make disclosures with respect to climate change will expand greatly and that John Coates, who joined the SEC on February 1 as acting director of its Division of Corporation Finance will be at the center of those actions including to expand companies’ environmental, social, and governance disclosures (.. a subject he spoke and wrote on at his prior post at Harvard).

As part of its enhanced focus in this area, the SEC staff has now been directed by the acting chair to review the extent to which public companies address the topics identified in the 2010 guidance, assess compliance with disclosure obligations under the federal securities laws, engage with public companies on these issues, and absorb critical lessons on how the market is currently managing climate related risks. The staff “will use insights from that work to begin updating the 2010 guidance” to take into account developments in the last decade.

We know anecdotally that more than ever, investors are considering ESG including climate related issues when making their investment decisions. It is the SEC’s responsibility to ensure that investors have access to material information when making investment decisions and it is going to do that with a finger on the scale in favor of climate change by ensuring compliance with the rules on the books and updating existing guidance to produce consistent, comparable, and reliable climate related disclosures. Companies will need to adjust their behavior and be cautious to mitigate significant increased risk that will be associated with a new realm of disclosure laws.

While it is premature to speculate on specific enforceable disclosure rules including specific government written metrics or standards for ESG disclosures, it is clear such is the direction of the SEC.

Allison Herren Lee was appointed by President Trump to the SEC, unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and sworn into office on July 8, 2019. Ms. Lee was designated acting chair of the Commission by President Biden, on January 21, 2021.

All of this will all but certainly move forward promptly when President Biden’s SEC chairman nominee, Gary Gensler (.. whose confirmation hearing in scheduled for March 2, 2021) is seated.

We have and continue to assist public companies in matters of climate change and sustainability, including voluntary environmental reports, as well as the realm of emergent SEC disclosures and financial statement compliance.

Rare Earth Metal Theft by Catalytic Converter

The theft of catalytic converters to sell for the value of the rare earth metal components is a thing once again.

A catalytic converter is a component part of the exhaust system of a fossil fuel motor vehicle that catalyzes, or accelerates the break down of vehicle emissions making them less harmful. The catalyst of a catalytic converter is usually Platinum (Pt), Palladium (Pd), and Rhodium (Rh). All three of these platinum group metals are rare.

Two of the three are currently worth more per ounce than Gold. Palladium prices earlier this month were over $2,300 per ounce (.. Gold is about $1,900), a 20% increase since January. Rhodium was selling this month at more than $21,000 per ounce, up from less than $6,000 last month.

Rare earth metals are not only used in automobile pollution control devices (and not just in the U.S. but in growing numbers across the globe including in China), but also in smart phones, LEDs, flat screen televisions and a host of tech devices from wind turbines to hybrid car batteries, all for which worldwide demand continues to increase. And while China likely leads the world in production from raw elements, the U.S. may be the largest importer and largest recycler of rare earth metals.

Hence a crime of opportunity.

The precise number of thefts is not known. The National Insurance Crime Bureau, the public source for vehicle theft data reported to insurance companies, stopped tracking catalytic converter thefts in 2015. But there is has been a dramatic increase that we can track anecdotally because within the last month there have been news media accounts in the New York Times and on NPR. Police departments from Wichita to South Bend and Lynchburg to Manchester have all issued statements about increased converter thefts.

Curiously, the largest quantity of rare earth metals in a Toyota Prius hybrid is in the magnets in its electric motor, second are the car’s dashboard electronics and only third, its catalytic converter, which is among the most stolen in the U.S. because the gasoline engine does not run fulltime so the metals in the pollution control device last longer, but also because it is easy to separate from the vehicle.

EPA generally does not permit the installation of used catalytic converters, so it is clear they are being stolen for recycling of the rare earth metals.

Some have asked why is this crime wave happening now? It is not pandemic related. The pollution control devices have been required in the U.S. since 1975 and there was a wave of thefts on the 1980s, but the current crime spree to feed rare earth metal recycling is apparently driven by the skyrocketing prices for those elements.

A Washington DC environmental regulator recently said, the Black market of extracting rare earth metals from stolen catalytic converters may be the most valuable recycling market, and possibly the only profitable recycling market, in the U.S. today.

EPA 2020 Enforcement Offers Insight

The Environmental Protection Agency’s has released the results of its 2020 enforcement and compliance efforts and those results offer significant insight that business can benefit from.

In the first 5 months of fiscal year 2020, EPA was on track to significantly exceed traditional numeric metrics in many categories with more compliance monitoring activities in the first 5 months than in any year since 2013, more in assessed penalties the first 5 months than in 7 out of the previous 10 years, more injunctive relief in the first 5 months than in FY 2019, and more concluded cases in the first 5 months than in either FY 2018 or FY 2019.

Then on March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency due to SARS-Cov-2 followed by state stay at home orders, federal employees teleworking, many courts closed, and enforcement took a dive. To its credit, like most of us, EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance program adapted.

Good for the agency, but disappointing for our society, in FY 2020 among the agency’s priority cases were an onslaught of violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by persons hoping to cash in on the fear of the coronavirus by making fraudulent claims that their products or devices kill that virus.

The quick take on EPA’s other FY 2020 enforcement and compliance achievements include:

Commitments to reduce, treat, or eliminate over 426 million pounds of pollution, the most in a single year since 2015.

Proper treatment, minimization, or disposal of 1.6 billion pounds of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, more than all but two of the past eight years.

Clean up of 104 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and water, more than in FY 2019.

Prevention of 18.2 million pounds of air pollutants by preventing, reducing, treating, or eliminating emissions from vehicle and engine air sources through resolution of 31 civil enforcement cases for tampering and aftermarket defeat devices—the most for any one year in the agency’s history.

247 new criminal cases opened, 77 more than in FY 2019 and the most since 2014.

Superfund response and cash-out settlements of over $636 million for cleanup work, $65 million more than FY 2019, as well as $178.4 million for EPA’s costs.

EPA’s FY 2020 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results, offers insights into the thinking of federal regulators, including analysis of specific cases, see,

However, if one reads between the lines of the agency issued report, enforcement actions were below prior years reported cases. Not a surprise to anyone during a pandemic.

Moreover, anecdotally, EPA had been vocal in the last 4 years about emphasizing compliance assistance over enforcement. Michael Regan, the Biden Administration nominee for EPA Administrator has accentuated matters of climate change and environmental social justice, but on day to day enforcement he may lead the agency otherwise.

Despite the obvious EPA policy differences in a Trump versus a Biden Administration, the professional staff in the enforcement and compliance program may well man a steady keel in terms of priorities, including in the immediate protecting the environment and public from false claims that products or devices kill the coronavirus.

PFAS in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

The question de riguer in commercial real estate transactions is if PFAS is included in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

As made clear by the January 14, 2021 EPA action, the response is “no” that the standard practice for environmental site assessments in the vast majority of places does not consider PFAS, however, ..

Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of more than 4,000 man-made chemicals that include PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS has been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s and have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. PFAS is very persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning these chemicals don’t break down, accumulating over time, and as such have been referred to ‘forever chemicals’ making them an emergent environmental catastrophe.

The EPA reports, “there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes .. studies indicate that PFAS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals, .. and have caused tumors in animal studies.”

A peer reviewed study cited approvingly by the EPA describes 99.7% of Americans have a detectable PFAS in their blood!

Against that backdrop, the stated purpose of the ASTM Standard E1527-13 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment process is “to define good commercial and customary practice in the United States of America for conducting an environmental site assessment of a parcel of commercial real estate with respect to the range of contaminants within the scope of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 U.S.C. §9601) and petroleum products.”

The term “recognized environmental conditions means the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products in, on, or at a property ..”

“.. a substance defined as a hazardous substance pursuant to CERCLA 42 U.S.C.§9601(14), as interpreted by EPA regulations and the courts: (A) any substance designated pursuant to section 1321(b)(2)(A) of Title 33, (B) any element, compound, mixture, solution, or substance designated pursuant to section 9602 of this title, (C) any hazardous waste having the characteristics identified under or listed pursuant to section 3001 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), as amended.”

PFAS is not a CERCLA nor RCRA listed hazardous substance.

Such was confirmed on January 14, 2021, when EPA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to get public comment and data to inform the agency’s ongoing evaluation of PFAS. That public comment may influence additional regulatory steps, if any, maybe even CERCLA listing?

Of course there may be environmental issues or conditions at a property that parties may wish to assess in connection with a commercial real estate transaction that are outside the scope of a Phase I, these are known in ASTM parlance as “non-scope considerations” and may be included in the Phase I report. Such would generally be a bad idea perverting a Phase I, however might be prudent at a property where PFAS was produced or incorporated into manufacturing or other processes. But what would the seller and buyer do if PFAS was detected?

Additionally, there are a limited number of places where PFAS is regulated as state hazardous substance, like Michigan where should likely be included in a Phase I. And there is at least one place where there appears to be a complete disconnect, as I described last year in a post,  Maryland the First State to Legislate Permitted Use of PFAS.

The broad consensus of environmental professionals in the know is that there is simply no good reason to consider PFAS in a commercial real estate transaction and only negatives that can flow from these widespread chemicals that are nearly everywhere and are in nearly everyone’s blood.

This law firm has been advising and counseling clients in PFAS related matters since 2009, including in real estate transactions this past year, one of which was adjacent to a commercial airport, another had previously been a fire station and a third was a marina; each a place where one would anticipate PFAS laden fire suppression foam had impacted the environment.

Despite that they will not read about it in a Phase I report, all those with an interest in commercial real estate should be aware of how pervasive PFAS is in the economy and the environment, and the associated risk associated with this forever chemical, including what will no doubt be changing laws and emergent litigation as the legal system catches up to the science.

Former Public Officials Indicted on Criminal Charges in Flint Water Crisis

Michigan prosecutors last Thursday announced that 9 individuals have been indicted on a total of 42 counts related to a series of alleged actions and inactions that created the Flint water crisis.

Interestingly, the Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit in Genesee County appointed Judge David Newblatt to act as a one-man grand jury to investigate crimes related to the crisis. Indictments were issued after that sole grand juror secretly listened to and evaluated the evidence presented for 12 months.

“But why these criminal cases are so significant is it is incredibly rare that a public official is charged criminally for government actions or inactions related to environmental matters.”

Secrecy of grand jury proceedings have not allowed for release of the grand jury evidence underlying the charges, but as many will remember, in April 2014, the public water supply serving more than 100,000 homes, schools and businesses within the City of Flint was switched from water sourced from the Detroit water system using Lake Huron to the Flint River, in an effort to save $5 Million in the first 2 years. There is no real factual dispute that as a result of the corrosivity of the water, lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply. General Motors stopped using the public water in October 2014 after determining it was corroding automobile parts. It is alleged that as many as 12,000 children were exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead. It is also alleged that the water supply change was the cause of an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease that killed 12 people and affected another 85, but that link appears a bit fuzzy.

A large scale lead pipe replacement effort has been underway since 2016. On August 20, 2020, the victims of the water crisis were awarded a combined settlement of $600 million, with 80% going to the families of affected children and in November that settlement increased by a predetermined formula to $641 million.

But, again, the big news is that former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and 8 other former officials were charged criminally. Read Rick Snyder’s Grand Jury Indictment, which may be long on the shadow it casts against those who may seek public service (or for that matter public work), but short on any facts. Two were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The indictments make clear the charges flow from the government determination in 2014 to switch the water supply from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as a cost cutting measure without properly considering the possible impact on human health.

“In 2021, people across the U.S. are beginning to question determinations made by public officials to have adopted building codes and indoor air quality standards that result in reduced energy use versus prioritizing ventilation to protect human health, having the effect of creating office buildings, schools, and homes with indoor air quality conditions ripe for the airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the current designation for what had been the Novel Coronavirus 2019).”

At a time when matters of environmental social justice are at the fore, communities have, maybe for the first time, vocally questioned government funded cleanup of nonpotable water courses, largely used by the wealthy to boat and otherwise recreate, in lieu of using the public dollars to cleanup lead in drinking water?

Moreover, this has renewed the debate over why local governments are providers of water and what the role of the private sector should ideally be?

In 2015 the Detroit Free Press described the Flint water crisis as “an obscene failure of government,” and it is beyond dispute that federal, state and local government failed. and there is no doubt this is a particularly egregious instance of environmental harm. Hence the reason for the criminal charges against public officials, as rare as that is. But that has caused some to ask why federal EPA officials were not indicted, the agency that has ultimate oversight authority of drinking water quality? Many expect more and similar criminal charges against public officials in other instances in the years to come.

The defendants turned themselves in and were arraigned last Thursday, but many will recall the people spoke in the Michigan election of 2018 when this environmental crisis was timely, Democrats swept all of the statewide offices held by Republicans (Republican Governor Rick Snyder was term limited). Anyone concerned if the criminalization of bad environmental public policy is a good thing should follow the cases.

45L Energy Efficient Home Tax Credit Extended for 2021 by Covid Relief Bill

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, H.R. 133, signed into law by President Trump on December 27th, extended the 45L energy efficient home $2,000 tax credit, which had been scheduled to expire last year, to cover qualified new energy efficient homes sold or leased through 2021.

And yes, regular readers of this blog will notice that I am writing about the same Act of Congress I posted about last week, but the $2.3 trillion, 5,593 page bill, the second largest ever passed by Congress, provides tax relief for just about everyone and all businesses from the $600 per person check that many have focused on to the 179D commercial property energy efficiency tax deduction, that I posted about, and much more. Key among the many provisions of the Act is this extension of a $2,000 per dwelling unit tax credit (.. yes, it is a credit and not a deduction).

Page 4,914 of The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, provides,


(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 45L(g) is amended by striking ‘‘December 31, 2020’’ and inserting ‘‘December 31, 2021’’.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendment made by this section shall apply to homes acquired after December 31, 2020.

Okay, tax law may not be thrilling reading, but those few words apply to new construction and renovations of single family homes, multi family units in buildings up to 3 stories, including individually owned condominium units or rented apartments including much student housing; and with a $2,000 per dwelling unit federal tax deduction available, you may want to keep reading the relatively modest requirements, even if they are a bit dry.

Internal Revenue Code Section 45L provides eligible taxpayers may claim this tax credit for new energy efficient homes that are sold or leased by that taxpayer during the tax year for use as a residence. An eligible taxpayer is the person that constructed the qualified energy efficient home or produced a qualified manufactured home.

A person must own and have a tax basis in the qualified energy efficient home during its construction to qualify as an eligible taxpayer. For example, if the person that hires a third party contractor (.. and despite that the Federal law confusingly uses the word contractor) to construct the home owns and has the basis in the home during construction, the person that hires the third party contractor is the eligible taxpayer and the third party contractor doing the work is not an eligible taxpayer.

A qualified new energy efficient home is a dwelling unit, whose construction is substantially completed after August 8, 2005, and sold or leased before 2022, for use as a residence. The tax credit can even be claimed retroactively for past years. The home is required to be certified and meet certain energy saving requirements described below.

Significantly, construction includes not only new construction, but also substantial reconstruction and rehabilitation, and this incentive has been widely utilized in major renovations of multi family buildings, very commonly 3 story garden apartment buildings where this tax credit is layered on top of state and utility incentives for energy efficiency.

The credit is $2,000 for a dwelling unit that is certified to have an annual level of heating and cooling energy consumption at least 50% below the annual level of heating and cooling energy consumption of a comparable dwelling unit and has building envelope component improvements that account for at least 1/5 of the 50% reduction in energy consumption.

The required comparable dwelling unit is one that would have been constructed in accordance with the standards of chapter 4 of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code as such Code (including supplements) was in effect on January 1, 2006.

An eligible taxpayer must obtain a certification that the dwelling unit meets the requirements of section 45L(c) from an eligible certifier before claiming the section 45L credit. Importantly, the certification will be treated as satisfying the requirements of section 45L(c) if all the construction has been performed in a manner consistent with the design specifications provided to the eligible certifier and the certification contains all of the information required by section 3 of Notice 2008-35. There is an Approved Software List for certification of the designed work and the requirements make costs dramatically less for certification of more than 85 units.

As I said in a virtual seminar last week, “which is all government speak for, to qualify for the $2,000 tax credit an eligible dwelling unit must be certified as at least 50% more efficient than the 2006 IECC benchmark and sold or leased prior to January 1, 2022.

Many residential builders simply complying with state minimum energy requirement will easily satisfy the standard here, including most builders in California, Arizona, and Maryland. And in those states and elsewhere those contemplating new construction and major renovations may be well served to have that work completed in 2021 because even if this tax credit is again extended, given the political winds blowing in Washington DC, any future extension may well carry with it a heightened minimum energy standard (as just happened in the 179D extension).

Following a year when carbon emissions were down across the U.S. because many were afraid to leave their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, taking advantage of this one year extension of the energy efficient home tax credit, in the Covid Relief Bill, be one small step yielding $2,000 (per unit), good for the moribund U.S. green building industry, and also be a giant leap for mankind toward repairing the planet.

179D Tax Deduction Made Permanent by Covid Relief Bill

On page 4,872 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, H.R. 133, which passed both houses of Congress on December 21st and was signed into law by President Trump on December 27th, the 179D energy efficient commercial buildings federal tax deduction, which had been scheduled to expire at year end, was instead made permanent.

At a total cost of $2.3 trillion, the 5,593 page bill is the second largest ever passed by Congress providing tax relief for just about everyone and nearly all businesses. The mass media has focused the $600 per person check as well as the PPP and business publications have written about allowing 100% deductibility of business meal expenses and extension of the $300 charitable contribution deduction for nonitemizers, but I suggest among the more impactful in repairing the planet provisions is the extension of the Internal Revenue Code Section 179D commercial property energy efficiency tax deduction.

The 179D commercial buildings energy efficiency tax deduction has since 2006 enabled building owners to claim a $1.80 per square foot tax deduction (i.e., this tax incentive has been popular because it is based on the area of the building not the dollar amount expended) for installing qualifying systems and buildings. Tenants may be eligible if they make the construction expenditures. If the system or building is installed on federal, state, or local government property, the 179D tax deduction may be assigned to the businesses primarily responsible for the system’s design or installation.

Included as Division Z of this huge Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 is the “Energy Act of 2020,” the first comprehensive update to U.S. national energy policy since 2007. Simply put the 179D tax deduction reduces the green premium. As public policy it has created the right incentives for companies that make the choice between simply looking green versus actually being green and making a difference.

With more than 24,000 green building incentives across the country, most for above code building, the 179D tax deduction has been among the most valuable.

The tax provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 include making permanent a number of tax extenders, including the 179D deduction, encouraging green, energy efficient design of private and public building, now indexed annually for inflation, but coupled with a higher energy efficiency minimum.

The Act provides, in relevant part (.. in government speak),

“(b) INFLATION ADJUSTMENT. Section 179D, as amended by subsection (a), is amended by redesignating subsection (g) as subsection (h) and by inserting after subsection (f) the following new subsection:

(g) INFLATION ADJUSTMENT. In the case of a taxable year beginning after 2020, each dollar amount in subsection (b) or subsection (d)(1)(A) shall be increased by an amount equal to (1) such dollar amount, multiplied by (2) the cost-of-living adjustment determined under section 1(f)(3) for the calendar year in which the taxable year begins, determined by substituting ‘calendar year 2019’ for ‘calendar year 2016’ in subparagraph (A)(ii) thereof.”

While that the deduction will be indexed for inflation is not a bad thing, the certainty that this deduction will exist (.. something that had not existed un the past when the deduction was authorized only for two years at a time) when a project is put into service is truly a valuable thing.

And the energy efficiency standards are updated,


(1) ASHRAE STANDARDS. Section 179D(c) is amended (A) in paragraphs (1)(B)(ii) and (1)(D), by striking ‘Standard 90.1–2007’ and inserting ‘Reference Standard 90.1’, and (B) by amending paragraph (2) to read as follows:

‘(2) REFERENCE STANDARD 90.1. The term ‘Reference Standard 90.1’ means, with respect to any property, the most recent Standard 90.1 published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America which has been affirmed by the Secretary, after consultation with the Secretary of Energy, for purposes of this section not later than the date that is 2 years before the date that construction of such property begins.”

That is, the tax deduction has been available for improvements that reduce a building’s total energy and power cost by 50% or more in comparison to a building meeting minimum requirements set by ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 for buildings and systems placed in service after January 1, 2017; before that date ASHRAE 90.1-2001 was used; and, presumably now ASHRAE 90.1-2019 (with its higher standard) will be required.

Also new, in California, the 179D deduction allows for use of the most recent California Nonresidential Alternative Calculation Method approved by the Department of Energy two years before the date that construction of the property or energy efficiency improvements begin.

In a closely related matter, in the coming days I will post about that the Section 45L new energy efficient home tax credit of up to $2,000 per unit was extended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 through end of 2021.

The updated 179D tax deduction made permanent by the Covid Relief Bill will be key in reviving the moribund U.S. green building industry, including jumpstarting privately owned new green construction, but the higher standard to qualify will be out of reach for most existing buildings. And the certainty that 179D tax deduction will exist when a new construction project is put into service will make this green incentive among the most valuable for new green building.

Top 10 Environmental Blog Posts of 2020

As we look back at my most read blog posts in 2020, at a time when most of us have accepted that we will never go back to exactly the way things were, we are no doubt collectively ready for a new year, and I am incredibly excited about the prospects for environmental law. I am supremely confident that our longtime business philosophy of “environmental risk as an opportunity” is right for the times.

In 2021 this blog will continue providing strategic intelligence on environmental law, including critical insights into sustainability and green building for the business community, .. not just for lawyers. Blog posts generally mirror our law practice including changing and developing with client’s businesses to take advantage of the very best of the broader environmental industrial complex. Despite that many of us would be happy to forget the entire year that was 2020, I recall George Santayana’s warning, “[t]hose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

With that admonishment, as we look for what will be the cutting edge environmental issues of 2021 here are my Top 10 most read blog posts from 2020, which compilation provides a pretty eclectic mix of the environmental matters of the day as self-selected for reading by readers of the blog, and it is no surprise the top two posts were SARS-CoV-2 related. In descending order these are the posts that had the most traffic:

COVID-19 Liability for Building Owners

COVID–19 in Buildings is all about Ventilation

HREC in a Phase l is Not a Recognized Environmental Condition

Selling a House with Solar Panels is Fraught with Peril

I Just Read my 1000th Phase I Environmental Site Assessment this Year

2018 IgCC Poised to be Adopted for the First Time

Maryland is First State to Legislate Permitted Use of PFAS

179D Tax Deduction Allocated from Government Buildings

New Lead (Pb) in Soil Standard Now Effective

Bird Friendly Building now the Law in Howard County

We do a lot of environmental transactions for public companies, the real estate industry, and more. The environment is a profit center for many of our clients and has been so, even in this year impacted by the pandemic. And while the luster has been off green building in the U.S. this year, that many businesses have changed more in recent months than they evolved in the preceding years, will make us all better, creating new profit centers, in what is always an emergent body of law.

With the impending political changes in our country, not to mention the benefits from widespread vaccination, we know 2021 will be a year with even more and expanded prospects for our clients to benefit from “environmental risk as an opportunity.”

There is no doubt that 2021 and beyond portends to be a period of both great economic prosperity and burgeoning environmental protection. I look forward to providing you with our law firm’s distinctive environmental edge in the coming years.

Wishing you a happy and better 2021!