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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

Mission Critical at the Department of Defense now includes Climate

On August 13 the President signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. The $716 billion H.R. 5515, authorizes appropriations for the Department of Defense for procurement of everything from aircraft, missiles, ammunition, shipbuilding and space defense to military installation construction; and is arguably the most significant environmental legislation enacted … Continue Reading

Back to the Future with “Navigable Waters of the United States”

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of the Army finalized a rule adding an applicability date to the 2015 Rule (that never went into effect) defining “waters of the United States.” But, the 2015 Rule will now not be applicable until two years following publication of the applicability date rule in the Federal Register … Continue Reading

Fireworks Cause Air Pollution But

In a very good example of striking the right balance between environmental protection and celebratory festivities, despite that fireworks degrade air quality with particulate matter, in the United States we have decided that the pyrotechnic show must go on. Fireworks have a storied history in the United States best articulated in a July 3, 1776 … Continue Reading

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Reform is for the Birds

A week after this blog post, the Office of the Solicitor issued a memorandum the subject line of which was, “The Migratory Bird Treaty Act Does Not Prohibit Incidental Take.” The very first page of the Memorandum ends with the sentence, “Interpreting the MBTA to apply to incidental or accidental actions hangs the sword of … Continue Reading

EPA Ends Perverse Practice of “Sue and Settle”

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” according to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. In fulfilling his promise to end the practice of regulation through litigation that has harmed the American public, the EPA Administrator issued an agency wide directive on October 16, 2017  designed to end “sue and settle” practices within the Agency, restoring … Continue Reading

FTC Settles Charges Over Deceptive Zero VOC Claims

Paint Can Label from Exhibit B in FTC Complaint
Four paint companies have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceptively promoted products as containing zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or as emission free, including during and immediately after application. Some promotions also made explicit safety claims. Specifically, the first FTC complaint alleges, In connection with the advertising, promotion, offering for sale, … Continue Reading

Attorney General’s End of Third Party Settlements is Good for the Environment

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on June 5, 2017 to all Department of Justice components and 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices prohibiting them from entering into any agreement in settlement of federal claims or charges that directs or provides for a settlement payment to non-governmental, third parties that were not directly harmed by the … Continue Reading

Solar Powered Advertisement is Deceptive

Billboard in Italian Train Station
A business installs photo voltaic panels on its roof to generate power, and advertises that it is “solar powered.”  The business, however, sells the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) that are generated by the solar power. Even if the business is near net zero for electricity generated by the solar panels, according to guidance from the … Continue Reading

Prospering thru Green Building in a Changing Environment

I spoke to a gathering of construction industry attorneys the other day about changing environment of Federal government regulation portending huge business opportunities for green building. These were my prepared remarks for that talk. While much of the mass media hyperbole is focused on the new Administration’s 2018 “skinny” budget request of $5.7 Billion for … Continue Reading
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