CBA Record November-December 2021

What’s Hot in Environmental Law By Jorge Mihalopoulos and Robert Weinstock

E nvironmental law is one of the fastest-evolving legal practice areas. Lawyers working in this area must contend with a number of issues, both big and small, general and specific. For the upcoming year, the CBA Environmental Law Committee is focusing on the fol- lowing overarching issues that cut across practices throughout our legal landscape: With the beginning of Justice Barrett’s first full term, and the dust still settling on a few key environmental and energy cases from last Spring, Court watchers are wondering just how far the new Court will push on environmental law issues, even while social and constitutional issues dominate general headlines. Disputes between states over access to water and challenges to Clean Air Act authority to regulate greenhouse gases, among others, are issues potentially on tap for a Court with astrong—though not unwavering—6 to 3 (conservative – liberal) tilt. The U. S. Supreme Court after Justice Ginsburg

Building Back Better from Covid Like so many other parts of our lives, environmental law and lawyers are still figuring out what the world will look like after the brutal first year-and-a-half of the Covid-19 pandemic. The true implica- tions from Trump-era USEPA pandemic enforcement policies may never be accu- rately tallied, but the bigger question may be sorting out how durable social changes prove to be. How do we respond to the environmental impacts of the exponen- tial acceleration of e-commerce—with its proliferation of shipping materials and fleets of shipping vehicles shuttling in and out of new distribution facilities all too often sited in communities already over-burdened with pollution?Will remote work keep cars off the road, cripple public transportation, or both or neither? Will changes in energy consumption patterns persist, with resulting ripples through the rapidly evolving electricity generation and transmission sectors? These questions—as well as the potential for generational surge in permitting questions—come together

in the massive infrastructure legislation still percolating (as of publication) in our Nation’s Capital.

Climate Change & Environmental Justice

The Biden administration has clearly artic- ulated two priorities in in its environmen- tal agenda: confronting climate change and delivering meaningful and long-overdue progress on equity and environmental jus- tice. So far, the administration has focused on discrete GHG reduction opportunities and unwinding the deregulatory efforts of the prior administration. Bigger regula- tory efforts are afoot, though, and will be keeping environmental lawyers busy in 2022. Environmental justice efforts of the Biden EPA have been more programmatic and positional thus far, along with some high-profile actions on specific permits or enforcement cases in Chicago and elsewhere. Legislation is languishing in Congress and demands for more sweeping and fundamental changes in federal policy remain clarion.

26 November/December 2021

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