Kenneth J. Markowitz Stacey H. Mitchell Dario J. Frommer Christopher A. Treanor September 5 2022 Climate policy update: last-minute climate bills, Colorado river water shortage, "forever chemicals" and more 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 Last-minute climate bills for CaliforniaStates claim that natural gas project violates climate lawsUncertainty over Colorado River water shortageEPA proposes classification of "forever chemicals" (PFAs) as hazardousBiden administration tackles greenhouse gas emissions from oil wellsThis article outlines pertinent legal and policy climate change developments in the United States during the past week.(1)Last-minute climate bills for CaliforniaAs California's legislative session draws to a close, various climate measures are being considered. On 28 August 2022, Senate Bill 846, which proposes to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon powerplant, was published ahead of the legislature's 72-hour deadline. While environmentalists have opposed the extension (for further details, see "Climate change policy update: 22 August 2022"), others have argued that the climate impacts would be worse if the plant was kept open:At this time, the alternative to the closure of the reactors at Diablo Canyon will most likely be additional natural gas generation, which would reverse progress on emissions reductions and worsen air quality.(2)Senate Bill 905 was also released on 28 August 2022 and seeks to:require the state board to establish a Carbon Capture, Removal, Utilization, and Storage Program, as provided, to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and viability of carbon capture, utilization, or storage (CCUS) technologies and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies and facilitate the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide from those technologies, where appropriate.States claim that natural gas project violates climate lawsThe attorneys general of California, Washington and Oregon released a comment arguing that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should reject the TC PipeLines' Gas Transmission Northwest project. The motion states that the project "will worsen environmental harms from climate change by locking in over 3.47 million metric tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per year for at least the next thirty years".Uncertainty over Colorado River water shortageThe federal government gave western states an August deadline to develop a plan to conserve water across the Colorado River, which is experiencing a drought induced by climate change. Now that the deadline has passed, there have been calls for the federal government to take charge. Additionally, the federal government recently announced increases in water cuts starting in 2023 for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. However, it is unclear what actions the federal government could take.EPA proposes classification of "forever chemicals" (PFAs) as hazardousOn 26 August 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances as a hazardous substance. While the proposed rule does not ban the chemicals, according to the EPA, it would "increase transparency around releases of these harmful chemicals and help to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination".(3)Biden administration tackles greenhouse gas emissions from oil wellsOn 25 August 2022, $560 million was awarded to 24 states to begin work to plug, cap and reclaim over 10,000 orphaned oil and gas wells. According to the Department of the Interior:Orphaned oil and gas wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. Methane leaking from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.(4)For further information on this topic please contact Kenneth 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.(2) "Feinstein to California Legislature: Pass Bill to Keep Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Open", press release, 30 August 2022.(3) "EPA Proposes Designating Certain PFAS Chemicals as Hazardous Substances Under Superfund to Protect People's Health", press release, 26 August 2022.(4) "Through President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 24 States Set to Begin Plugging Over 10,000 Orphaned Wells", press release, 25 August 2022.