Kenneth J. Markowitz Stacey H. Mitchell Dario J. Frommer Christopher A. Treanor March 6 2023 Climate change policy update: carbon capture programmes, ESG criteria and reservoir construction delays Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP | Environment & Climate Change - USA Kenneth J. Markowitz, Stacey H. Mitchell, Dario J. Frommer, Christopher A. Treanor Environment & Climate Change DOE announces $2.5 billion for carbon capture programmesEPA announces $550 million to advance environmental justiceUSDA invests $48.6 million to combat climate changeJohn Kerry intends to continue in Special Climate Envoy roleRetirement plan decision-makers and ESG investment criteriaReservoir construction delayed by acquisition of water rights, permitting and environmental reviewShapiro silent as Pennsylvania joins RGGI This article outlines pertinent legal and policy climate change developments in the United States during the past week.(1)DOE announces $2.5 billion for carbon capture programmesOn 23 February 2023, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of $2.52 billion in funding for the Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilots programme and the Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects programme. These programmes – funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – seek to "accelerate the demonstration and deployment of carbon management technologies".EPA announces $550 million to advance environmental justiceThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $550 million investment supported by the Inflation Reduction Act to establish the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grant-making programme. The EPA anticipates awarding 11 cooperative agreements. The deadline for applications is 31 May 2023.USDA invests $48.6 million to combat climate change The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a $48.6 million investment to "mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality, restore forest ecosystems, and ultimately contribute to USDA's efforts to combat climate change". The USDA's Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service is expecting to invest in 14 new projects through the joint chief's Landscape Restoration Partnership.John Kerry intends to continue in Special Climate Envoy role US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry noted to President Biden that he wishes to remain in his role until the Conference of Parties 28. At the United Nations climate conference, Kerry intends to address the continuing failure to stave off catastrophic climate change and engage in conversations about loss and damage funds for countries disproportionately impacted by climate change. However, Kerry expressed optimism that the tangible impacts of climate change could encourage nations at the Dubai conference to make substantial progress.Retirement plan decision-makers and ESG investment criteriaHouse Republicans are expected to vote on Representative Andy Barr's resolution to reverse a Department of Labor rule to enable retirement plan decision-makers to consider environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investment criteria, so long as the criteria suit the financial interests of plan participants. This Congressional Review Act parallels a resolution in the Senate championed by Senator Mike Braun and is supported by Senator Joe Manchin.Reservoir construction delayed by acquisition of water rights, permitting and environmental review The Sites Reservoir has been gaining support since California voters approved a water bond authorising $2.7 billion for new storage projects in 2014. However, the reservoir must still clear significant barriers, including the acquisition of water rights, permitting and environmental review. Consequently, the construction scheduled for 2024 is expected to be delayed. This project is necessary to store approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of Sacramento River water to bolster the water supply for dry years. As such, lawmakers, farmers and water suppliers have expressed concern about the delay to the reservoir, particularly with California's recent storms in which significant amounts of water could have been captured.Shapiro silent as Pennsylvania joins RGGI While Governor Josh Shapiro continues to remain silent on his administration's stance on Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Republicans are expected to introduce legislation to remove Pennsylvania from the cap-and-trade programme. Pennsylvania Representatives James Struzzi and Dallas Kephart argued that the legislation aligns with Governor Shapiro's concerns about the RGGI and will allow him to support union workers and energy consumers by refocusing Pennsylvania's energy policies on initiatives that benefit the Commonwealth.For further information on this topic please contact Kenneth J Markowitz, Stacey H Mitchell, Dario J Frommer or Christopher A Treanor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP by telephone (+1 202 887 4000) or email ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]). The Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP website can be accessed at www.akingump.com.Leila Fleming, public policy specialist, assisted with the preparation of this article.Endnotes(1) For further updates, including upcoming congressional hearings, federal agency climate news and events, click here. For the previous week's update, click here.