DOJ Restores Supplemental Environmental Projects in a Slate of Environmental Justice Initiatives

Mike Farber, Britt Fleming, Rachael Lipinski, Paul Libus, and Savian Gray-Sommerville

*This article was originally published as a firm alert and is being republished with the permission of Van Ness Feldman. 

In May 2022, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) introduced a slate of environmental justice initiatives to address pollution and climate impacts in underserved communities.  Included in these initiatives is the restoration of federal prosecutors’ authority to use supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), which allow defendants to undertake such projects as part of environmental enforcement settlements.  Additionally, DOJ also announced its new environmental justice strategy and launched the new DOJ Office of Environmental Justice.  These initiatives fall under the Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy which was created in response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

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Timber Briefing: U.S. Lumber Prices Could Be Affected By Sanctions On Russia

Danny C. Kelly-StallingsMarisa N. BocciChristopher J. VossMichael E. Ruck

*This article was originally published as a K&L Gates Client Alert and is being republished with the permission of K&L Gates.

The U.S. lumber market has seen unprecedented price rises in recent years. Prices could climb even higher as the world responds to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Russia is a major exporter of wood in the global market, particularly in China and the European Union. If these countries restrict wood products imports from Russia, or if Russia refuses to export to them, the strain on global supply could drive domestic prices to new heights as Russia-dependent markets look for new sources of wood. 

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A Dollar for Your Thoughts? Potential Outcomes of Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski for Climate Litigants

David Wang*

In what could prove to be a boon for climate litigants, the U.S. Supreme Court decided earlier this year that nominal damages can sufficiently satisfy the “redressability” prong of Article III standing. In Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, the Supreme Court considered whether Chike Uzuegbunam, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, could still allege First Amendment violations against college officials even after the officials abandoned the speech restrictions at issue.[1] The Supreme Court decided in March that Mr. Uzuegbunam still had standing to make the claim if he claimed nominal damages—a trivial monetary award for a plaintiff whose legal right was technically violated but is otherwise not entitled to compensation because of no accompanying loss or harm. As a result, Uzuegbunam may have opened up an avenue for many litigants (including climate litigants) to overcome the ever-present thorns of Article III standing requirements.

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Clarifying the Scope of Transportation Facility Stormwater Regulation in Washington

Erika Spanton*

The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington and Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board recently ruled that in the context of transportation facilities, the scope of Washington’s former 2015 and current 2020 Industrial Stormwater General Permit (ISGP) are limited to only the portions of the facility involved in specified auxiliary operations, not the entire transportation facility. 

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Bridging the GAP Between Environmental Assessments and Carbon Reduction Mandates

Molly Barker and Ankur Tohan*

Carbon regulation in Washington is about to get more complicated. In March 2021, the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) issued a conceptual framework[1] and draft rulemaking language[2] for public comment on Greenhouse Gas Assessments for Projects (the “GAP Rule”).[3] The release of the GAP Rule may—as a result of providing the first framework of its kind in the state for evaluating carbon footprints on major industrial projects—lay the groundwork for more enforceable carbon regulations. The GAP Rule may also increase competition on low carbon project design or may prompt the allocation of more corporate dollars toward mandated mitigation measures.

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