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So far Andrew Bell has created 32 blog entries.

Supreme Court Narrows Scope of the Clean Water Act

By |2023-06-01T21:00:39+00:00June 1st, 2023|National Environmental Policy Act|

In its 25 May 2023 Sackett v. EPA decision, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly and conclusively defined the scope of what constitutes “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) under the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”). The decision ends decades of uncertainty and significantly reduces the reach of the CWA. Under the test adopted by the Sackett Court, “waters” include “only those relatively permanent, standing, or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographical features that are described in ordinary parlance as streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes.” And WOTUS, in turn, are relatively permanent bodies of water [...]

White House Publishes NEPA Guidance on Climate Change Impacts

By |2023-01-10T21:00:39+00:00January 10th, 2023|National Environmental Policy Act|

On 9 January 2023, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released interim guidance for analyzing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change impacts of major Federal actions undergoing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. The interim guidance applies to all Federal actions subject to NEPA and builds upon CEQ’s 2016 NEPA guidance repealed by the previous administration. The purpose of the guidance is to provide a uniform approach for Federal agencies to consider both the impacts of a project on climate change and the impacts of climate change on a project. The guidance takes effect [...]

Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Eagle Take General Permits

By |2022-10-05T18:36:17+00:00October 5th, 2022|Renewable Energy|

On 30 September 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule that would create a standardized permitting program for the incidental take of bald and golden eagles by qualifying activities such as wind energy projects and power lines. The proposed rule would amend the Service’s Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) permitting regulations to offer general take permits as an alternative to the project-specific eagle take permits that are available under current regulations. General permits would be valid for five years subject to renewal and would be issued automatically without [...]

Is California’s AB 205 a Renewable Energy Game Changer?

By |2023-03-01T12:46:21+00:00August 25th, 2022|Renewable Energy|

A new, one-stop, 270-day wind, solar, and storage permitting process at the California Energy Commission (CEC) makes California’s Assembly Bill 205 (AB 205) sound promising, but past practice suggests it only may be attractive to developers facing stiff local agency opposition. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 205 into law on 30 June 2022. The law allows developers of wind and solar projects with a capacity of at least 50 megawatts (MW) and storage projects of at least 200 megawatt hours (MWh) to avoid local permitting by opting into the nearly exclusive permitting jurisdiction of [...]

Biden Partially Unwinds Trump’s NEPA Rollback

By |2022-08-25T19:52:53+00:00April 21st, 2022|National Environmental Policy Act|

On 20 April 2022, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published in the Federal Register a final rule revising its National Environmental Quality Act (NEPA) regulations, reinstating several key environmental review elements scrapped by the Trump Administration. The final rule, available here, adopts the changes CEQ proposed in October 2021 almost wholesale. It contains three key components. First, the rule removes the Trump-era requirement that an environmental impact statement’s (EIS) “purpose and need” section be based on the goals of the applicant and the agency’s authority, with a corresponding edit to the definition of [...]

Biden Takes Next Step Toward West Coast Offshore Wind

By |2022-01-14T22:07:32+00:00January 14th, 2022|National Environmental Policy Act, Renewable Energy, Wind Energy|

On 11 January 2022, the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for site assessment and characterization activities and the issuances of leases in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area. Assuming the agency finalizes the EA following public comment, its next step will be to hold an auction for offshore wind leases. While turbine construction is still years away—and subject to myriad other federal and state approvals—BOEM’s recent action represents an important milestone on the road to offshore wind energy on the West Coast. Humboldt Wind Energy Area [...]

Biden Continues to Unwind Trump’s NEPA Rollback

By |2021-10-13T20:47:41+00:00October 13th, 2021|National Environmental Policy Act|

On 7 October 2021, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a proposed rulemaking to revise the National Environmental Quality Act (NEPA) regulations and reinstate environmental review elements that were axed by the Trump administration early last year. The key components of the rule include (i) expanding the definition of environment effects to include indirect and cumulative effects, which restores climate change as a component of NEPA review; (ii) allowing federal agencies to implement agency-specific NEPA regulations that go above and beyond the CEQ’s own regulatory requirements, so that the CEQ’s regulations provide a [...]

Biden Administration Scraps Trump-Era Migratory Bird Rule, Looks Ahead to Incidental Take Permitting

By |2021-10-06T19:26:28+00:00October 6th, 2021|BGEPA and MBTA, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy|

On 4 October 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its intent to revoke a Trump-era rule that limited the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to prohibiting intentional take of avian species and instead develop a new rule for the authorization of what soon will again otherwise be prohibited incidental take. Effective 3 December 2021, the agency will return to implementing the MBTA as prohibiting “incidental take” of birds that results from otherwise lawful activities. As predicted, we will then be back to a world in which USFWS’s enforcement [...]

California Goes All In on Offshore Wind

By |2021-09-28T19:56:39+00:00September 28th, 2021|Federal Lands, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy|

On 23 September 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom jumpstarted the state’s offshore wind energy industry by signing Assembly Bill (AB) 525 into law.AB 525 directs the California Energy Commission (CEC) to coordinate with other state agencies to develop a long-term strategic plan for offshore wind development in federal waters off the California coast. The bill also requires the CEC to establish statewide offshore wind capacity goals for 2030 and 2045 by the middle of 2022. These steps will lay the groundwork for large-scale installations off California’s 840-mile coast in the coming decades.Background and OverviewAssemblymember David [...]

BLM Wakes Up to the Climate Crisis

By |2021-09-02T10:26:12+00:00September 1st, 2021|Federal Lands, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy|

Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a solicitation of public input on a proposed revision of the agency’s renewable energy permitting regulations. BLM intends to publish a proposed rule in early 2022. The BLM announcement includes links to two national and two regional listening sessions held between 14 September and 26 September where stakeholders can provide oral comments. BLM invites written comments within the same timeframe as well. BLM is specifically interested in comments on multiple topics that have been controversial within the renewable energy industry since BLM’s last retooling of its [...]

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