Kenneth J. Markowitz Stacey H. Mitchell Dario J. Frommer Christopher A. Treanor January 2 2023 Climate change policy update: environmental permitting reform, NOAA report and 2022 Scoping Plan 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 Environmental permitting reform failureNOAA report on climate conditionsFailure to revive key aluminium plantCARB approved 2022 Scoping PlanShrinking Colorado River reservoirsNatural Gas Bill motivated by ESG investing concernsThis article outlines pertinent legal and policy climate change developments in the United States during the past week.(1)Environmental permitting reform failure Senator Joe Manchin's environmental permitting reform failed in the Senate last week with a 47-47 vote. In response, Manchin criticised Senate republicans for putting their own political agenda above the people's needs, referencing increased energy prices and the need for the Mountain Valley pipeline. However, it is expected that permitting reform will remain foremost in the mind of the new Congress as Senate democrats and republicans have signalled their interest.NOAA report on climate conditionsThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report showed that 2022 has been the region's sixth warmest year on record and that the Greenland ice sheet has been diminishing for 25 consecutive years. Further, the report detailed that such climate conditions have made the Artic wetter and stormier in 2022 than in previous years.Failure to revive key aluminium plant As discussions to reopen an aluminium plant, which could have bolstered US supply chains necessary for clean energy technologies in Washington, fell through, supporters are questioning why the Biden administration did not intervene. With the support of labour unions and electric vehicle producers, Blue Wolf Capital and the Bonneville Power Administration have been negotiating all year to reopen the plant, which would have been the only aluminium plant west of the Mississippi River.CARB approved 2022 Scoping PlanThe California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved its final 2022 Scoping Plan, which outlines a path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. Specifically, the plan aims to reduce:fossil fuel consumption by 94%;reduce air pollution by 71%; andreduce pollution-related health costs by $200 billion by 2045.Shrinking Colorado River reservoirsAt a conference in Las Vegas, federal officials cautioned Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona and California – all states that rely on the Colorado River reservoirs – that they must take immediate action in 2023 to protect water levels. Under pressure from the federal government, the seven states have engaged in negotiations over the past six months, but the discussions have proved difficult and pledge numbers have not reached the federal government's goal.Natural Gas Bill motivated by ESG investing concernsOhio State Senator Mark Romanchuk introduced an amendment seeking to classify natural gas as "green energy" to help companies meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing standards. In response to the amendment, climate advocates argue that the language could have wider implications for the way natural gas is marketed and regulated going forwards.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.