Archives: Codes and Regulations

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Understand How EPA Does Not Expect to Seek Penalties during COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last Thursday retroactively beginning March 13, 2020, a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. EPA’s admittedly unprecedented temporary “enforcement discretion policy” applies to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak as a response to the deleterious effect on a wide variety of businesses. … Continue Reading

179D Tax Deduction Allocated from Government Buildings

On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation reviving the Section 179D energy efficient commercial building tax deduction and while much has been written about the much needed boost to green building, little has been said about the enormous benefits available from government owned buildings. The § 179D federal tax deduction was brought back from … Continue Reading

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Will Apply Only to Intentional Takes

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule clarifying that the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act only extends to conduct intentionally injuring birds. Conduct that results in the unintentional (incidental) injury or death of migratory birds is not prohibited under the act. As I described in a 2017 blog post, … Continue Reading

Low Carbon Concrete for the First Time Required by Law

The negative environmental impact of concrete, the most common man made substance on Earth, has not been meaningfully responded to in 2020. Cement use in concrete is the largest single material source of greenhouse gas emissions in building. Concrete is the largest single material source of embodied emissions in buildings, and makes for more than … Continue Reading

FERC Decision Puts State Renewable Portfolio Standards At Risk

In the ongoing conflagration between “reliable power” and “clean energy” many may have missed when last month federal energy policy declared reliability the winner with renewable energy subsidies (e.g., state renewable portfolio standards) the loser. In a decision that critics have called “unprecedented” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on December 19, 2019 issued an Order … Continue Reading

Phase l Assessments for Tenants are the Hottest Environmental Issue in 2020

The hottest environmental topic for business in 2020, as a result of an amendment to the Superfund law for the first time making clear that tenants can qualify as bona fide prospective purchasers, protected from cleanup costs from the presence of hazardous substances on a property, is prospective tenants are now ordering Phase l Environmental … Continue Reading

179D Tax Deduction Brought Back to Life thru 2020

This past Friday night while aboard Air Force One the President signed legislation reviving the 179D energy efficient commercial buildings tax deduction, providing an enormous and much needed boost to domestic green building. Almost as compelling as the fictional undead being created through reanimation of a corpse, except here there were no zombies involved; it … Continue Reading

What You Can Say about RECs is Regulated by the FTC

Businesses who generate renewable energy, say, by using solar panels, but sell the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for the renewable energy they generate shouldn’t claim they “use” renewable energy. The Federal Trade Commissions has advised that such a claim would be deceptive. The guidance from the FTC is not new, but as renewable energy becomes … Continue Reading

An HREC is Not a REC in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

I review a large number of Phase I environmental site assessments, and year in, year out, the largest number of questions I field are about Historical Recognized Environmental Conditions. The environmental professionals who perform those assessment generally do not take heed of Eduardo Galeano’s quote, “History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘see you later.’” … Continue Reading

FTC Finds Truly Organic is Not

By way of a federal court order that became final last month, Truly Organic Inc. and its founder will pay $1.76 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission greenwashing complaint alleging that their nationally marketed bath and beauty products are neither “certified organic” nor “vegan” as falsely claimed. According to the FTC’s complaint, in this … Continue Reading

ESG Disclosure Simplification Act Passes Committee But Will Fail

On September 20, 2019, the Financial Services Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4329, the ESG Disclosure Simplification Act of 2019. The bill would require all public companies to disclose “environmental, social, and governance [ESG] metrics” as material information about the company. Although there is little if any chance that the bill … Continue Reading

Cannabis Manufacturer Charged with RCRA but No CDS Violations

In a criminal case that says significantly more about the prosecution than the indictment on its face, the Federal government is prosecuting a leading cannabis industry manufacturer and distributor for criminal transportation of hazardous waste. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) was enacted in 1976 to ensure that all hazardous waste generated in the … Continue Reading

Brownfield Laws can Save Green Building and the Planet

It is widely accepted that the greenest building is one already built. So, why then on the 20th anniversary of many state brownfield programs, is there so little correlation between green buildings and brownfields? Green building ratings systems, standards and codes expend a great deal of verbiage on aims reducing embodied carbon, including the currently … Continue Reading

EPA Cancels Pesticide Registrations to Save the Bees

In a rare move, the EPA issued product cancellation orders for certain pesticides effective May 20, 2019. The pesticides contain neonicotinoids that, despite their widespread use have become controversial when laboratory studies reported a link between neonicotinoids and declining bee populations, although a link has not been replicated in field studies. Neonicotinoids are compounds in … Continue Reading

GSA Reviews more than 100 Green Building Systems and Selects 5

Section 436(h) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the General Services Administration’s Office of Federal High-Performance Buildings to complete a review of high performance building certification systems every 5 years. After the review, GSA recommends to the Secretary of Energy the building certification systems most likely to encourage a comprehensive approach … Continue Reading

Maryland Appellate Court Upholds Local Government Pesticide Ban

Last week the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the state’s intermediate appellate court, overturned an earlier circuit court decision, reinstating a Montgomery County ordinance significantly restricting pesticide use throughout the County. In October 2015, the Montgomery County Council enacted Bill No. 52-14 becoming the first major jurisdiction in the country to enact such a ban. … Continue Reading
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