The movement to address environmental challenges permeates every level of government. Prominent in climate change law, we help clients mine opportunities and avoid risks. Major corporations, state and local governments, and cleantech and renewable energy ventures seek our counsel as they steer a course through a time of rapid change.
A majority of states and hundreds of local governments have adopted climate change laws and strategies. Regional efforts are underway to create carbon cap and trade programs, and legislation for a national program is pending in both houses of Congress. The active voluntary market for greenhouse gas emission reductions in the United States mirrors the international market for carbon credits spawned by the Kyoto Protocol. There are substantial federal and state incentives for climate-friendly actions, and green building is increasingly the norm. Shareholders are asking how corporations are addressing these issues.
The firm has national prominence in climate change law and business counseling. We represent major corporations, state and local governments, and cleantech and renewable energy ventures. We are also involved in efforts to promote effective climate change policies and efficient carbon markets.
Amidst the continuing global efforts, government action, and private climate programs are opportunities (and risks) for businesses. Enterprises that emit less greenhouse gas or use less energy from fossil fuel will have lower costs. Those that sell products that allow others to be more climate-friendly will find new markets. Businesses that can produce alternative energy for their own use or for sale can capture new profits.
We counsel on:
- Strategies for capturing opportunity
- Strategies for reducing emissions cost-effectively
- Permits, approvals, development issues, and financing for fossil fuel-fired, alternative, and nuclear powered energy facilities
- Processes for developing state, regional, and local climate policies
- Legislative initiatives related to greenhouse gas emissions and alternative energy
- Registering and trading carbon reduction credits and renewable energy credits in regulated and unregulated markets
- Disclosure of climate change risks under securities laws
- Litigation arising under climate change law or instigating lawsuits under other law
In the litigation area, we have taken part in national litigation on climate change, including as amici for leading world climate scientists in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA.
Our climate change and sustainability services are integrated into our environmental, energy and project finance, real estate, and litigation practices. We collaborate with our colleagues to help clients develop, sell, acquire, invest in, or finance all forms of energy projects and operations.
We collaborate on:
- Acquisition of environmental permits and siting approval
- Litigation to challenge unacceptable permit terms or to defend third-party challenges to project approvals
- Evaluation of the viability of projects through environmental due diligence
Negotiations on project agreement that allocate environmental responsibilities, obligations, and liabilities among participants
All forms of traditional fossil fuel-based projects
Alternative energy projects, including many varieties of waste-to-energy biomass, and renewable energy projects
Nuclear power projects
The world is entering a new era of limits on physical resources. Oil and gas reserves are declining as demand increases, and soil loss and aquifer depletion threaten agriculture (and biofuels). Global warming is a frequently discussed concern. Opportunities await entities that take the lead in reinventing their business models to meet these challenges.
Emissions Trading and Environmental Banking
We assist with NOx, SOx, and mercury trades under federal legislation and state implementation plans. We have acted as counsel in land-banking and habitat-banking transactions and brownfield recycling.
Buildings are green if they use renewable materials, create less waste in the building process, and use less energy and water to operate. Our attorneys are familiar with real estate contracting practices in the green building area, including performance standards and certifications.
Reputational Risk and Reporting
Major public companies are under increasing pressure to report publicly on their environmental practices and the sustainability of their business model. Reporting should be consistent with required securities reporting and disclosure, and we assist companies in determining whether risks identified in Sustainability Reports should find expression in SEC filings. The practices of a company's suppliers affect the performance of the company, and contracts with suppliers should specify the reporting needs of the purchaser.
Product Labeling and Certification
Consumer concern with the source and environmental soundness of their purchases raises intellectual property issues. We can assist with labeling and certification issues (e.g., "organic" and “sustainably harvested") and energy use and life-cycle labeling.