Massachusetts Environmental and Land Use Alert
Massachusetts Environmental Developments
MassDEP Issues Draft Fact Sheet Guidance on PFAS, a Class of Emerging Contaminants
On January 26, 2017, MassDEP announced that it had developed and is seeking comment on a Fact Sheet entitled “Guidance on Sampling and Analysis for PFAS at Disposal Sites Regulated under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan.” The Fact Sheet is a primer on the class of contaminants known as PFAS including manufacture, toxicity, the types of sites where it may be found, sampling considerations, and analytical concerns. The key takeaway from the Fact Sheet is that MassDEP is identifying PFAS as hazardous materials and expects investigation for PFAS at sites where it makes sense to do so and remediation of PFAS where it is found to pose a significant risk to human health or the environment. MassDEP has requested comments by March 3, 2017.
According to the draft Fact Sheet, PFAS is a large class of fluorinated compounds, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). While the U.S. EPA has issued Drinking Water Health Advisories on PFOA and PFOS specifically, MassDEP’s Fact Sheet addresses the entire class of chemicals.
In the Fact Sheet, MassDEP states that “PFAS are considered hazardous materials under MGL Chapter 21E” and thus must be addressed under the MCP at any site where they are found. No reportable concentration, reportable quantity, or cleanup standard has been established for PFAS as a class or for any individual PFAS. However, according to the Fact Sheet, immediate notification to MassDEP would be required if PFAS at a site posed an imminent hazard, and a cleanup standard for a particular site can be developed using a Method 2 or 3 risk characterization. As such, it is incumbent upon environmental consultants that make site cleanup decisions, known as LSPs in Massachusetts, to understand these chemicals.
MassDEP continues in the Fact Sheet to discuss when and how to sample and analyze for PFAS. MassDEP recommends sampling for PFAS at locations where PFAS may have been manufactured or used, landfills, Department of Defense locations where aqueous film forming foams may have been used for firefighting, firefighter training sites, airports, crash sites, metal coating and plating facilities, water treatment systems, and large rail yards. Sampling poses special challenges because the sampling equipment, clothing, and personal care products ordinarily used by the individuals who conduct the sampling may contain PFAS and must be avoided in order to avoid false positives. Finally, MassDEP identifies EPA’s Method 537 (liquid chromatography and tandem mass-spectrometry) as “proven to be the most reliable approach for analyzing PFAS in different matrices,” indicating that it has been validated for 14 different PFAS. Prior to September 2009, there was no validated method.
Landfill Expansion Project Halted by MassDEP Company Settles MassDEP Enforcement Case, Reaches Agreement with MassDEP to split $10 Million Cost to Construct Drinking Water Line and Receives Notice of Intent to Sue from Environmental Groups
A proposal to expand the Southbridge, Massachusetts landfill owned by the Town of Southbridge and operated by a subsidiary of Casella Waste Systems has been halted by MassDEP in the face of concerns about the source of contaminants, primarily 1,4 dioxane, found in area groundwater. Shortly thereafter, MassDEP announced a $5 million grant towards the cost of extending a drinking water supply line to area residents, contingent upon agreement from Casella to provide matching funds. In addition, MassDEP announced the settlement of an administrative penalty case against Casella alleging past landfill operational violations, and two state environmental groups sent Casella a notice of intent to sue, claiming the company was responsible for surface water and groundwater contamination in the vicinity of the landfill.
1,4 dioxane contamination (and some other contaminants) has been identified in drinking water wells used by residences in an area near the landfill, and Casella has been providing free bottled water to affected residents who were using groundwater wells. Consultants hired by the Town of Southbridge and Casella indicated that they did not believe the landfill was the cause of the groundwater problem, or could not trace the contaminants to the landfill. However, faced with uncertainty about the source (or sources) of the contaminants, MassDEP issued a negative site suitability report, which prevents Casella from proceeding to seek a site assignment from the local board of health. Casella has filed a motion for reconsideration, and that motion is pending as of the publication date of this summary.
In issuing its negative determination on site suitability, MassDEP indicated that it did not have sufficient information on the groundwater to allow it to draw necessary conclusions on impacts to public health or on whether the landfill was a source that would pose a threat to public health. Thus, while MassDEP did not affirmatively conclude that the landfill was the source of area groundwater issues, it determined that it could not allow the project to proceed to site assignment in the face of uncertainty.
It is unusual that MassDEP would issue a negative determination of site suitability for a solid waste project, and we are not aware of any prior case where MassDEP elected to deny approval on the basis of insufficient groundwater data. Here, MassDEP based its decision on evidence of contaminants in monitoring wells surrounding the landfill including elevated 1,4 dioxane in an adjacent irrigation well, conflicting information on groundwater flow direction, and a conclusion that there were insufficient monitoring wells in place to document the extent of the contamination. While MassDEP noted that a hydrogeological study by the company and the Town of Southbridge concluded the contaminants in private wells could not be from the landfill, the Agency determined that the study was not conclusive. MassDEP particularly noted that there was only one source of data from deep bedrock, and that was the irrigation well that showed elevated levels of 1,4 dioxane.
Shortly after issuing its negative site suitability report, MassDEP announced that it was using a 2014 legislative funding authorization to grant up to $5 million in public funds to pay for the installation of public water supply lines to residences near the landfill in the neighboring Town of Charlton, contingent upon the receipt of matching funds from Casella.
In its penalty settlement with Casella, the company agreed to pay MassDEP a civil administrative penalty of $91,831.70 to settle claims of a range of violations arising from landfill operations from 2014 through 2016. The penalty, broken into $24,331.70 in cash and $67,500 to fund a supplemental environmental project (SEP), accompanies a lengthy to-do list aimed at addressing the alleged violations.
MassDEP alleged, among other things, that the company failed to properly control stormwater, failed to prevent the discharge of leachate to groundwater, improperly altered wetlands and allowed sediment-laden water to discharge to wetlands, and violated the state waste bans by failing to conduct the minimum required inspections and by accepting prohibited materials.
As part of the Consent Order that resolved the matter, the company did not admit or deny liability but agreed to take a variety of actions in addition to payment of the civil penalty and funding the SEP. These actions include addressing stormwater infrastructure deficiencies, conducting regular stormwater inspections and reporting, preventing leachate from discharging to groundwater, complying with state waste disposal bans, conducting a minimum of 20 comprehensive waste ban inspections per month, and continuing to fund a 24-hour hotline for citizen complaints. In the SEP, the company has committed to funding part of the cost of the Town of Southbridge’s efforts to stabilize bank erosion and washout areas impacting a rail trail along the Quinebaug River and helping to obtain necessary state and local permits.
In a separate action, Toxics Action Center and Environment Massachusetts sent a notice of intent to sue to Casella arising from its landfill operation. These groups are threatening to sue the company under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The CWA claims allege that the landfill is the source of pollutants that are channeled to surface waters, including wetlands. The RCRA claims allege that the landfill is releasing hazardous constituents into the environment in a manner that is endangering human health and the environment.
Once a notice of intent is provided, there is typically a period of negotiation among the parties to explore theories of liability and the strengths and weaknesses of the case and to determine whether various claims can be resolved or settled. If an enforcement agency pursues an enforcement case prior to the filing of a complaint by a citizens group, any violations addressed by the agency cannot be pursued by the citizens' group. At this time it is not known whether the environmental groups will seek to pursue their claims by filing a complaint in court.
OMB Signs Off on U.S. EPA’s 2017 Construction Stormwater Permit
Spared by the Office of Management and Budget from the Trump Administration’s regulatory freeze, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2017 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Stormwater Associated with Construction Activities (2017 CGP) became effective on February 16, 2017.
The 2017 CGP applies only in jurisdictions where the EPA is the federal Clean Water Act permitting authority, which are relatively few but do include most of the land in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Idaho, New Mexico; the District of Columbia; Indian lands; and some areas in certain states subject to construction by a federal operator. The five-year permit authorizes stormwater discharges associated with construction activities that disturb one or more acres and stormwater discharges associated with smaller sites within a larger common plan of development. Builders and contractors in affected areas seeking to develop land meeting these criteria will need to obtain coverage under the 2017 CGP moving forward and comply with the permit’s effluent limitations, erosion and sediment control standards, pollution prevention plan requirements, and site stabilization measures.
Building on the prior version of the permit, which was issued in 2012 and expired on February 15, 2017, the EPA added several new requirements to the 2017 CGP. The most significant changes include:
- A prohibition on non-stormwater discharges of external building washdown waters containing hazardous substances (e.g., paint containing PCBs).
- Amendments to the technology-based effluent limitations clarifying the requirements to control erosion caused by stormwater discharges, the areas where buffers are required, and soil stabilization requirements.
- A requirement to include on the posted notice of permit coverage at a construction site information for the public on how to contact EPA for a copy of the applicable stormwater pollution prevention plan(s) (SWPPP) or to report observations of stormwater pollution.
- A requirement to cover or temporarily stabilize all inactive stockpiles or debris piles that will be unused for 14 days or more.
- A modified approach to the stabilization deadlines for sites that disturb more than five acres.
- A requirement to keep waste container lids closed or covered when not in use.
- Additional control measures for sites discharging to PCB impaired waters when demolishing structures with at least 10,000 square feet of floor space and built prior to 1980.
In addition, the 2017 CGP imposes joint and several liability on all operators of a single construction site. This means that where multiple contractors are associated with a construction site and have either divided permit-related functions under a group SWPPP or share stormwater controls (such as a sedimentation basin), the failure of one to fulfill its responsibilities or implement necessary controls may create liability for others. As an example, if one site operator were responsible for installing and maintaining a sedimentation basin that was used by several operators, all of the operators would have the potential for joint and several liability for violations relating to the basin, whether or not they were the cause of the violations and regardless of whether they were operating under a group SWPPP or individual SWPPPs.
This was one of the more controversial aspects of the permit as it moved through the draft stage, and it places a burden on all contractors and developers at a site to consider setting up a compliance management system to monitor site activities in order to catch and fix non-compliance if identified.
Based in part on concerns with the shared liability provisions of the 2017 CGP, the National Association of Home Builders filed a petition to review EPA’s issuance of the permit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on February 6, 2017. The government has not yet filed a response to the petition, and it is not clear at this stage if or how the litigation will impact the terms of the permit. In the meantime, developers and contractors who are subject to the permit should familiarize themselves with the new requirements of the 2017 CGP, and, for large construction projects involving multiple developers and contractors, be aware of the potential ramifications of dividing permit functions and sharing controls among operators.
Academic Institutions: Do You Still Have a Single-Walled Steel Underground Storage Tank?
Massachusetts state regulations require that all single-walled USTs be removed or closed-in-place by August 7, 2017. Most tanks installed prior to 1970 (and in some cases later) were single-walled steel tanks. Such tanks corrode over time and are likely to leak if left in place. As a result, MassDEP is phasing out the use of such tanks. There are many types of replacement tanks including double-walled jacketed steel tanks and metal tanks with cathodic protection.
If your academic institution uses USTs to fuel vehicles or to store chemicals, it is essential that your facilities manager or environmental, health and safety officer be aware of the UST regulations now enforced by MassDEP, 310 CMR 80.00. These regulations tighten the requirements for USTs through a series of deadlines. The next deadline is the requirement to remove or close-in-place single-walled steel USTs by August 7, 2017. However, MassDEP has stated that, so long as MassDEP is notified, it will exercise enforcement discretion in situations where a tank is taken out of service and a contract for removal or closure of the tank is executed prior to August 7, 2017, but the actual removal or closure of the tank does not occur until July 1, 2018.
When removing or closing a UST, you are also required to conduct an assessment, including sampling, to determine if the tank has leaked. If a release is identified, notification and remediation may be required under the state cleanup regulations known as the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, 310 CMR 40.0000.
Massachusetts Land Use Developments
Court Mandates Full Payment of 40B Application Fee for Complete Application Municipality Successfully Invokes Safe Harbor Due to Late Payment
Ruling that a developer who files a comprehensive permit application without paying the full filing fee “does so at its peril,” the Court in Zoning Board of Appeals of Hanover v. Housing Appeals Committee, 90 Mass. App. Ct. 111 (2016), found that the local board of appeals properly considered the developer's application with the benefit of the “safe harbor” which the town had achieved in the interim period between the partial and full payment of the fee. As a result, the Court reversed the Housing Appeals Committee’s (HAC) order that the local board issue a comprehensive permit for a 200-unit rental project. In sum, the “safest procedure” for a developer is to concurrently pay the full fee and file a motion to reduce it.
Hanover Woods, LLC (developer), filed an application with the Zoning Board of Appeals of Hanover (board) for a comprehensive permit to build a 152-unit mixed-income housing project. Under the board's fee schedule, the filing fee was $250 per housing unit or $38,000. The developer, however, submitted a check for $8,500 based on its claim that a $2,500 fee would be "imposed on a traditional project" and that a $6,000 payment for initial consultant review fees was reasonable. The developer did not simultaneously file a Motion to Reduce the application fee.
After the board informed the developer that its application was incomplete and would not be accepted for filing until the board received the required fee, the developer, only six weeks after filing its application, paid the fee in its entirety “under protest” and reserved its right to challenge the fee. During this same six week period, the board had approved another comprehensive permit project which resulted in the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) certification that the town complied with its Housing Production Plan (HPP) as of the date of the project approval and lasting for a two-year period. This certification established a regulatory “safe harbor” enabling the board to deny or condition a comprehensive permit without fear of review by the HAC.
The board informed the developer of the certification and the resulting safe harbor and the developer filed an interlocutory appeal to the HAC challenging the filing fee and the applicability of the safe harbor protection. While the HAC found the $38,000 filing fee reasonable, it ruled that the board could not invoke the safe harbor protection because the developer's application should have been considered filed when the partial payment of the fee was made. On remand, the board granted the developer a comprehensive permit for the 152-unit, for-sale project, subject to conditions. After appealing certain conditions to the HAC, the developer sought to increase the number of units from 152 to 200 and change the project from for-sale condominiums to rental units. The HAC found the requested changes were "substantial" and remanded the matter to the board which denied the proposed changes. The developer appealed to the HAC which ordered the board to issue a comprehensive permit for the 200-unit rental project. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed the HAC's decision and the board appealed from the judgment.
Date of Payment of Full Filing Fee Determines Project Application Date
Chapter 40B allows municipalities to attain certain “safe harbors” for designated periods of time during which the HAC lacks authority to order the local board of appeals to grant a comprehensive permit or to modify or remove conditions. One safe harbor arises when DHCD certifies that the municipality has complied with the goals of its approved HPP including increasing the number of affordable units in an amount equal to or greater than its 0.50% production goal for that calendar year. Significantly, the HAC is charged with upholding a board’s decision on a comprehensive permit application if the municipality's HPP certification is in effect "as of the date of the Project's application." 760 CMR § 56.03(1).
The Hanover Court primarily relied on statutory construction to reach its conclusion. The Court first noted that the first paragraph of § 56.05(2) of 760 CMR requires the submission of unspecified application materials, and that “[w]ith respect to these items, the first paragraph further states, "Failure to submit a particular item shall not necessarily invalidate an application." 760 CMR § 56.05(2). On the other hand, the Court explained, the second paragraph of § 56.05(2) which governs the payment of a reasonable filing fee omits the savings clause that "[f]ailure to submit a particular item shall not necessarily invalidate the application." This distinction was fatal to the developer’s reading of the regulation. The Court conceded that “While the language of the regulation admits some flexibility regarding the items that constitute a complete project description, this language does not spatially or logically encompass the filing fee, which appears in a separate paragraph.”
The Court did note that the regulations do allow for the reduction of the filing fee by a timely-filed motion: "Any motion for reduction of fees shall be filed with the initial pleading." However, the Court went on to reject the notion that such a motion was sufficient to deem an application complete. A developer who elects to pay less than the full fee, the Court warned, “does so at its peril.”
Finally, the Court invoked public policy in support of its holding noting that the filing fee for a comprehensive permit application is not a minor detail. Rather, the fee is necessary to "defray the direct costs of processing applications," which can be substantial. “It is unreasonable, and frustrates the purpose of [chapter 40B], to require a municipality to mobilize its resources to entertain a comprehensive permit petition without full payment of the applicable filing fee.”
Finding that the board correctly determined that the application was filed as of the date it received the full fee from the developer, the Court ruled that the board was entitled to consider the developer's application with the benefit of the HPP safe harbor thereby reversing the grant of a comprehensive permit for a 200-unit project.
Recent PFAS Case Law – RCRA, CERCLA, and Toxic Tort Claims
A new class of emerging contaminants poses challenges at remediation sites and for the protection of drinking water and is generating new toxic tort litigation. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are emerging contaminants that are being identified at several sites in many areas of the country. The U.S. EPA and many states are beginning to issue guidelines, advisories or in some cases, standards for PFAS in drinking water, soil, or groundwater. At the same time, several cases are winding their way through the courts. Below we discuss several recent cases involving PFAS contamination. In each of these cases, some of the claims have survived a motion to dismiss, suggesting that it will be difficult to quickly dispose of such claims prior to discovery.
Citizen Suit Claims
In February 2017, a U.S. District Court denied motions to dismiss RCRA “imminent and substantial endangerment” claims relating to PFAS. See Tennessee Riverkeeper, Inc. v. 3M Co., No. 5:16-cv-01029-AKK, 2017 WL 784991 (N.D. Ala. Feb. 10, 2017). This case involved the alleged continuing contamination of the Tennessee River and associated public drinking water supplies with PFAS that the plaintiff claims originated from a local manufacturing facility and two local landfills.
Among several arguments that the claims should be dismissed, the owners of the landfills argued that the claims were a collateral attack on existing, valid permits including a solid waste permit that authorized disposal in the landfill of the material at issue. The court denied the motion to dismiss stating that the permits only authorize the disposal of non-hazardous waste, and there is a dispute over whether the PFAS - containing material is a hazardous waste. The owner of the manufacturing facility also made several arguments that the claims should be dismissed, including mootness due to existing enforcement by the state agency in the form of a Remedial Action Agreement. The court denied this motion on the basis that Riverkeeper is seeking additional remedies not provided in that agreement, such as an injunction banning additional disposal of PFAS-containing materials absent demonstration of an appropriate, functioning liner.
Cost Recovery under CERCLA
In February 2017, a U.S. District Court evaluated a motion to dismiss a CERCLA cost recovery claim for PFAS contamination of groundwater used for drinking water. See City of Lake Elmo v. 3M Co., No. 16-2557 ADM/SER, 2017 WL 630740 (D. Minn. Feb. 15, 2017). The plaintiff, City of Lake Elmo, claimed that 3M Company, a manufacturer of PFAS, had disposed of PFAScontaining wastes at its facility and a local landfill, resulting in contamination of groundwater including the local drinking water supply. Lake Elmo sought recovery of costs it spent constructing an alternate water supply.
The defendant’s primary argument in support of the motion to dismiss was that the city had not shown that its response costs were traceable to the company’s conduct. The court held that the complaint adequately alleged that 3M was liable under CERCLA for the PFAS contamination and that Lake Elmo had constructed the water system as a necessary response cost.
Tort claims may be brought in cases involving PFAS based on allegations that individuals have been exposed to these contaminants in the environment and suffered injury, or that the PFAS contamination has interfered with their property rights.
A U.S. District Court dismissed certain nuisance claims but left in place the remaining claims including negligence, strict liability, trespass, and other nuisance claims related to contamination of the village drinking water supply in a case arising out of groundwater contamination by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), one of the many PFAS, in the local drinking water supply. See Baker v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., No. 1:16-CV-0917 (LEK/DJS), 2017 WL 486939 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 6, 2017). The court took the unusual step of certifying the order for interlocutory appeal to the Second Circuit sua sponte, stating that the motion raised “several complex and novel issues of New York law as to which the existing case law is significantly muddled.” An appeal has been filed by the defendants.
The defendants sought to dismiss these claims primarily arguing that the plaintiffs have not sustained a legally cognizable injury. The plaintiffs, a putative class consisting of individuals that own or rent property in Hoosick Falls or consumed the water, alleged diminution in their property values. The defendants argued that because the groundwater is a public resource not owned by the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs allege only economic harm and this is insufficient to state a claim. The court assumed for the purposes of the motion that the groundwater is a public resource not owned by the plaintiffs. The court concluded that the plaintiffs did state a cognizable claim for negligence, stating: “It is sensible public policy to require that manufacturers avoid polluting the drinking water of the surrounding community, and nothing in [cited case] prevents a person whose water supply was contaminated by such conduct from recovering in tort, even if she seeks economic damages.” Further, “The root injury complained of by Plaintiffs is the loss of their potable water supply, an injury that is not fairly characterized as purely economic in nature.”
In relation to the claims for personal injury, the plaintiffs did not allege current illness but instead alleged increased levels of PFOA in their blood. The defendants argued that this is not a sufficient “actual injury” that can support a tort claim and, further, New York does not recognize medical monitoring as an independent claim. The court refused to dismiss the claims, holding that a claim for medical monitoring is cognizable in New York where the injury is “the accumulation of a toxic substance within her body” and where there is an existing tort, in this case, the claims for property damage.
A U.S. district court denied a motion to dismiss or stay common law class claims for negligence, nuisance, trespass, battery and strict liability relating to PFOA contamination of groundwater. See Sullivan v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., No. 5:16-CV-125, 2016 WL 7487723 (D. Vt., Dec. 28, 2016). The plaintiffs are a proposed class comprised of individuals with an interest in real property in the area of the contamination. The defendant, Saint-Gobain, sought to dismiss or stay the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Burford abstention doctrine and the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. In relation to Burford abstention, Saint-Gobain argued that because the plaintiffs’ case is predicated on the state’s interim standard of 20 parts per trillion, which is being challenged, any action by this court would interfere with the state regulatory scheme. The court disagreed, stating that “No ruling on issues of negligence, nuisance, trespass, or Plaintiffs’ other common-law theories, will necessarily conflict with Vermont’s regulatory scheme or process regarding PFOA.” In relation to primary jurisdiction, the court considered whether the resolution of the issues in dispute in the case would require resolution of issues that should first be determined by the state environmental agency. The court determined that the answer is “no,” and abstention is not proper, because the state standard for PFOA is not “a measure to determine whether any Plaintiff has experienced [injury].” For these reasons, the court denied the motion to stay or dismiss the action.
Renewable Energy: The State of Play in 2017
The renewable energy sector ended 2016 and began 2017 under assault. Nevada and other states rolled back net metering laws. Fishing interests brought a lawsuit to block an offshore wind lease and upend BOEM’s offshore wind program. And—not least of all—the Trump administration has promised to kill the Clean Power Plan.
But despite these headwinds, it’s becoming increasingly clear that economics and technology are converging to propel renewables forward. Both onshore wind and commercial solar just became cost-competitive with natural gas on an unsubsidized basis, according to a recent analysis by Lazard. The U.S. now leads the world in wind energy production. And Hawaii is on track to power its grid with 100% renewables by 2040—five years earlier than originally planned.
Featuring prominently in Hawaii and other states are plans to increase distributed generation and rooftop solar, which depend on effective net metering policies. Properly designed, net metering should fairly compensate both solar owners (for generation) and utility companies (for grid and, potentially, storage services). Most states already have some form of net metering program, but with the continued expansion of renewable energy—especially distributed generation—many states are looking for ways to improve their net metering and renewable energy policies. As we reported last spring, states continue to come up with new and innovative approaches that can create a level—and profitable—playing field for both solar owners and utility companies.
To help keep track of legislative developments, the Center for the New Energy Economy and the and Advanced Energy Economy recently released a free utility called the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker, a searchable database of state-level energy legislation going back to 2012, including any legislation that was introduced or passed. It contains various search capabilities that are great for identifying pending or recent renewable energy and net metering bills. One search we ran identified 36 pieces of renewable energy legislation enacted in 2016 alone, including highlights such as:
- A new mandate for Massachusetts utilities to acquire 1,600 MW in offshore wind by 2027, along with and new net metering provisions for small hydro projects.
- Expansion and modification to the net metering program in New Hampshire.
- New feed-in tariffs in California for qualifying biomass and hydropower projects.
- Expansions to Connecticut’s net-metering programs for agriculture and low- or zero-emissions projects.
- A significant expansion of Washington, DC’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).
- A clean energy bill in Oregon that will eliminate coal-fired generation in the state by 2030, expand the state’s RPS program, and enable the expansion of community solar projects.
These are just a few examples of recent state-level legislative action—2017 is shaping up to be a busy year when it comes to energy policy, with another 185 bills related to power generation or renewable energy already pending in statehouses across the nation. But with renewables more cost competitive than ever, and with many states embracing a diversified grid, it is becoming increasingly clear that, regardless of what happens in Washington, renewable energy will continue its march forward in many states. The bigger question is which states will choose to lead, and which will lag behind.
Beveridge & Diamond's Municipal and State Governments industry group helps municipalities navigate the various federal and state regulations that govern their operations. We help guide municipalities through complex project development and permitting processes, interactions with the federal government, and environmental and natural resource litigation. For more information, please contact the authors.