Kenneth J. Markowitz Stacey H. Mitchell Dario J. Frommer Christopher A. Treanor February 27 2023 Climate change policy update: IRA programmes, climate reparations and chemical spill 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 Guidance issued on IRA programmesBiden to appoint new climate-friendly World Bank PresidentSenator Graham says climate reparations are not enoughAdministrator Regan commits to resolving chemical spillLawmakers support $4.5 billion climate bond for climate and flood programmesGovernor Newsom to bolster water supplyLake Powell water levels at record lowThis article outlines pertinent legal and policy climate change developments in the United States during the past week.(1)Guidance issued on IRA programmesOn 14 February 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its initial guidance on the Inflation Reduction Act's (IRA) Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund programme. The EPA divvied up the funding into two pots:a $20 billion general and low-income assistance competition pot; anda $7 billion zero-emissions technology fund competition pot.The EPA is expected to release the funding opportunity announcements in early Summer 2023. The Departments of the Treasury and Energy and the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance on two other IRA programmes:the Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credit programme; andthe Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit programme.Biden to appoint new climate-friendly World Bank President Following David Malpass's resignation as World Bank president, President Biden can now appoint someone who will be committed to overhauling the bank's work to focus its attention on climate change and other global challenges. However, the Biden-Harris administration will have to navigate the World Bank's other leading shareholders – such as China – to focus the organisation's efforts on climate efforts. This will prove difficult, particularly as the United States aims to balance its agenda with the priorities of other countries that might not like to move away from the institution's current core mandates, which are fighting poverty and funding economic development projects.Senator Graham says climate reparations are not enough In a recent interview, Senator Lindsey Graham argued that paying climate reparations through environmental, social and governance policies will not combat the changing climate. Rather, the senator encouraged the development of lower-carbon technologies and proposed that high-emitting countries, such as China and India, contribute their fair share to slash global emissions.Administrator Regan commits to resolving chemical spill EPA Administrator Michael Regan committed to holding rail carrier Norfolk Southern accountable for the train derailment that resulted in toxic chemicals being released into the air, which forced thousands of Ohio and Pennsylvania residents from their homes. Specifically, Regan detailed that the EPA is conducting indoor testing to detect vinyl chloride and hydrogen chloride, as well as conducting air monitoring from ground sources.Lawmakers support $4.5 billion climate bond for climate and flood programmesA bipartisan group of Californian lawmakers is supporting a $4.5 billion bond dedicated to climate and flood programmes making its way on the 2024 ballot. The Climate Resiliency and Flood Protection Bond will allocate:$3.5 billion to repair, expand or replace levees, bypasses and other state and local flood protection infrastructure;$50 million to restore the Delta; and$500 million for multi-benefit flood management.Governor Gavin Newsom previously expressed support for the bond to compensate for reductions in climate spending in his state budget.Governor Newsom to bolster water supply Governor Newsom signed an executive order to bolster California's water supply to accommodate the effects of climate change and a prolonged drought. While the state recently saw its wettest three-week period in history, "drought conditions continue to have significant impacts on communities with vulnerable water supplies, agriculture, and the environment". Specifically, the executive order seeks to expand California's ability to capture storm runoff by supporting groundwater recharge projects. Moreover, it empowers the state water board to reassess reservoir release requirements and policies to increase water supply.Lake Powell water levels at record lowLake Powell's water levels recently decreased to a record low, falling to 3,522 feet above sea level, which is the lowest it has been since it was filled in the 1960s. The reservoir's low water levels are the result of the region's megadrought, overuse of water resources and an increasingly changing climate. Moreover, experts caution that if the reservoir dips below 3,490 feet, it may be unable to produce hydropower. Even worse, at 3,370 feet Lake Powell will be considered a "dead pool", ultimately cutting states off of its water supply.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.