Archives: Codes and Regulations

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Low Embodied Carbon Concrete is Here

The golden opportunity in ESG may be in concrete. Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with materials’ manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal. In a building, there is “upfront” embodied carbon in construction and then operational carbon largely from energy consumption. Embodied carbon is particularly important because it contributes more climate changing … Continue Reading

The “Social Cost of Carbon” is Back

On November 11, 2022, shortly after this blog was posted EPA proposed a rule to regulate emissions of methane. While the proposed rule is itself worthy of discussion, readers of this blog may be particularly interested in a key technical feature of the announcement, that EPA has introduced a new approach to estimating the social cost … Continue Reading

SEC Longstanding Disclosure Related to Climate Change Remains

Whilst much of the popular media is all but obsessed with the March 21, 2022, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposed ESG Rules to Enhance and Standardize Climate-Related Disclosures that will among other matters require companies for the first time to disclose greenhouse gas emission data, we continue to work with companies in complying with … Continue Reading

California Appeals Board Gender Diversity Loss

Last month, the California Secretary of State appealed the decision by a California Superior Court striking down as unconstitutional California’s board diversity law, which required all publicly traded companies headquartered in the State to include a minimum number of female directors. In 2018, Women on Boards (Senate Bill 826) was signed into law to advance … Continue Reading

FTC Says Updated Green Guides are Coming

With allegations of greenwashing all but de rigueur, businesses should be on the alert for the soon to be released Federal Trade Commission’s updated Green Guides. This year companies are being publicly challenged and having their reputations tarnished for greenwashing, in some instances for deceptive misrepresentations, others for unintentionally misleading, and more often than not, … Continue Reading

EPA Proposes Designating PFAS as Hazardous

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to designate two of the most widely used per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the “Superfund” law. The proposal applies to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), including their salts and structural isomers, actually, a group of … Continue Reading

New Maryland Regulation all but Shuts Down Phase ll Environmental Site Assessments

The Maryland Department of the Environment has adopted regulations for the first time requiring the person conducting an environmental assessment, even when they are not the owner of the property (e.g., possibly a prospective contract purchaser of land or a consultant engaged in a lending transaction) to report suspected oil to MDE immediately, but not … Continue Reading

Phase 1 Standard for All Appropriate Inquiries in Limbo

It is hugely significant that the Phase l Environmental Site Assessment standard is in limbo because that assessment is conducted in the vast majority of the 5.6 million commercial real estate transactions each year in the United States (i.e., including for a real estate purchaser to avoid liability under the Superfund law). The U.S. Environmental … Continue Reading

Maryland’s New Corporate Diversity Law Violates the Equal Protection Clause

Corporate diversity is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.  Maryland has published, for public comment, regulations implementing the corporate diversity law enacted by the legislature in 2021. But the proposed regulations are unconstitutional on their face, violating the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Article 24 of the Maryland … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules Against EPA Reining in Power of Agencies

In a decision that will rein in agency power across the federal government, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that Congress did not clearly authorize the EPA to adopt broad rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric utility power plants. Specifically, the high court held, “Congress did not grant EPA in Section 111(d) of … Continue Reading

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to be Enforced June 21

Congress passed, and on December 23, 2021 President Biden signed into law, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The new law that will be enforced beginning June 21, 2022 has implications for imported cotton and tomatoes and most significantly for solar panels. The Act, codified at 22 U.S.C. §6901, establishes a rebuttable presumption that any … Continue Reading

SEC Charges Mining Company with Misleading Investors in its ESG Disclosures

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month charged Vale S.A., a publicly traded Brazilian mining company and one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, with making false and misleading claims about the safety of the Brumadinho dam including through its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures. According to the SEC’s complaint, for years, … Continue Reading

You Should Comment on the SEC’s Transformative Proposed ESG Rule

Note, after this was posted, the SEC extended the public comment period on the proposed rulemaking to enhance and standardize climate related disclosures from the originally scheduled close date of May 20, 2022 until June 17, 2022. We posted some weeks ago when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a long awaited proposed new … Continue Reading

California Racial, Ethnic and LGBT Quotas for Company Boards Ruled Unconstitutional

Last Friday a California court ruled unconstitutional the state’s racial, ethnic, and LGBT quotas for corporate boards of directors. This now voided law had been an ideological lodestone for the “G” (governance) in ESG. Superior Court judge, the Honorable Terry Green, granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment without a trial in Robin Crest, et … Continue Reading

The UK Sets the Scene for Mandatory ESG Laws in the Western World

As we in the U.S. await action by the federal government on mandatory ESG laws, the United Kingdom has become the first European Union country to enact mandatory ESG disclosure laws. These new reporting requirements are of import beyond the shores of Great Britain in that they portend what government mandates are to come across … Continue Reading

New SEC Guidance Portends More Stockholder ESG Activism

I am excited to be presenting a fast paced and fun one hour virtual program, “Environmental Social Governance (ESG) an Emergent and Fast Growing Area of the Law” for the Maryland State Bar Association Environmental & Energy Section on December 14, 2021 at noon. Registration will be open to all; not just lawyers. Registration for … Continue Reading
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