About Andrew Bell

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So far Andrew Bell has created 38 blog entries.

Biden Partially Unwinds Trump’s NEPA Rollback

By |2024-04-17T21:42:16+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 |2024-04-17T21:42:20+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 |2024-04-17T21:42:41+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 |2024-04-17T21:42:45+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 |2024-04-17T21:42:50+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 [...]

BLM Wakes Up to the Climate Crisis

By |2024-04-17T21:42:54+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 [...]

Ninth Circuit Rejects Clean Water Act Challenge; Will SCOTUS Finally Revisit Rapanos?

By |2024-04-17T21:43:00+00:00August 19th, 2021|Clean Water Act, Wetland and riparian permitting|

The decision might prove costly to the Biden Administration and others invested in a relatively broad definition of WOTUS. This week the Ninth Circuit issued yet another Clean Water Act ruling in what is now the 13th year of the Sackett v. EPA litigation, a case about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate a 0.63-acre residential lot near Idaho’s Priest Lake that has already generated one important Supreme Court decision. After rejecting EPA’s arguments that its recent withdrawal of the compliance order at the heart of the matter mooted the case, the [...]

Efforts to Scuttle Trump-Era Clean Water Rule Pick up Steam

By |2024-04-17T21:43:18+00:00August 5th, 2021|Clean Water Act, Wetland and riparian permitting|

The Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”) is on its way out. A long list of blue states and environmental groups have challenged the Trump-era rule across more than a dozen cases, and the Biden Administration has begun asking the courts to remand—but not vacate—the rule so it can repeal and replace it through rulemaking. One federal trial court has already granted the Administration’s request, and rulings from several others are expected soon. Meanwhile, the Administration recently announced a series of public meetings to take comments on its two-part, repeal-and-replace strategy that will [...]

CEQ Takes Small First Step Toward Overhauling 2020 NEPA Rule

By |2024-04-17T21:43:23+00:00June 30th, 2021|National Environmental Policy Act|

On 29 June 2021, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published an interim final rule extending the deadline by two years for federal agencies to implement the revised National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations promulgated by the Trump administration in July 2020 (2020 Rule). The move signals forthcoming substantive NEPA reform over the next two years, but offers little certainty in the short term for agencies and project developers currently undergoing NEPA review in a rapidly changing regulatory environment. The 2020 Rule directed agencies to adopt updated agency-specific NEPA regulations by 14 September 2021. [...]

Navigating NEPA’s Shifting Regulations

By |2024-04-17T21:43:27+00:00June 24th, 2021|National Environmental Policy Act|

This article briefly summarizes the Trump administration’s July 2020 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rule, describes its uncertain status under pending administrative and judicial review, and charts a compliance path through the presently uncertain regulatory landscape for agencies and industries. In July 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) under President Donald Trump promulgated a comprehensive overhaul of the NEPA implementing regulations designed to narrow the scope and duration of environmental impact review required by the statute. A plethora of states and public interest groups challenged the new regulations in federal court shortly thereafter. [...]

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