Today President Obama released his Climate Action Plan and highlighted the key components of the Plan at a speech at Georgetown University. The Plan has three primary goals: (i) cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S., (ii) preparing the United States for the effects of climate change, and (iii) leading international efforts to mitigate climate change. During his speech, President Obama listed three measures to address the first two goals: use more clean energy, waste less energy, and cut carbon emissions. The Plan includes some important new directives from the President, it incorporates some initiatives that are already underway and outlines some of the Administration’s intentions, without providing hard timelines or goals. 

The Climate Action Plan is limited to initiatives that the President can implement without Congressional approval.  Nevertheless, it has the potential to significantly affect a broad range of energy sector interests.  A summary of the Plan’s key components follows. 

Using more clean energy:

  • The Interior Department is directed to support deployment of 10,000 MW of renewable energy on public lands by 2020. 
  • The Department of Defense (DoD) is directed to build 3,000 MW of renewable energy at military installations by 2025.
  • Federal agencies will aim to install 100 MW of rooftop solar on federally-subsidized housing by 2020.
  • The federal government commits to obtain 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
  • The Red Rock Hydroelectric Plant, on the Des Moines River in Iowa, will be placed on the federal Infrastructure "Permitting Dashboard" for high-priority projects.
  • Federal agencies will streamline the siting, permitting, and review process for transmission projects.
  • The U.S. will seek a global agreement in the World Trade Organization modeled after the 2011 agreement among 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economies to reduce tariffs to 5% or less by 2015 on 54 environmental goods, including solar panels and wind turbines.
  • The FY2014 budget will include $7.9 billion for clean energy research and development.
  • The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America program will provide renewable energy and energy efficiency grants and loan guarantees directly to agricultural producers and rural small business.
  • Natural gas will continue to be relied upon as a “transition fuel” while America works to develop an “even cleaner” energy economy.

Continue Reading President Obama Unveils Climate Action Plan

The California Bioenergy Interagency Working Group has released its 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan, with the goal of facilitating the development of bioenergy in California on a variety of levels, including research and development support, streamlining and consolidating permitting, facilitating access to transmission, pipelines, and other distribution networks, and policies and laws to monetize the

Yesterday the EPA released the third major Notice of Violation (“NOV”) against a biofuel producer in the past six months under the Renewable Fuel Standard (“RFS”). The NOV states that EPA has determined that Green Diesel, LLC of Houston, Texas, generated 60,034,033 invalid Renewable Identification Numbers (“RINs’) with a current market value of perhaps $85 million. Coming on the heels of the resolution of the Clean Green Diesel and Absolute Fuels NOVs, this NOV is likely to trigger immediate market reaction.
Continue Reading EPA Releases Green Diesel Notice of Violation

The California Renewable Energy Action Team’s (REAT) final Best Management Practices and Guidance Manual for Desert Renewable Energy Projects is now available. The Manual was adopted by the California Energy Commission on December 15, 2010. The final version posted online last week includes the minor additions from the December 15 meeting.

The REAT is made up of the California Energy Commission, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management. The REAT has the task of helping accelerate the permitting of renewable energy facilities in the California Mojave and Colorado Deserts, while minimizing environmental impacts and conserving natural resources in these areas. This will facilitate California’s larger goals of generating 33% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. For more background information on the REAT and Executive Order S-14-08, creating the Team, see our previous legal alert


The REAT is preparing a Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan for the California Mojave and Colorado Deserts ecological areas. The Best Management Practices and Guidance Manual provides interim guidance to facilitate renewable energy during preparation of the comprehensive Conservation Plan. The Manual is designed to provide guidance to renewable energy developers on designing and siting renewable energy projects in these desert areas. The Manual’s stated goals also include assisting agencies in reviewing and permitting renewable energy projects and accelerating environmental review of renewable energy projects, though there is less practical material on these goals.


The Manual mainly details actions that should be taken prior to filing an application for a renewable energy project to streamline the permitting process. Many of the recommendations, though, are what savvy developers would strive for in any project:  start coordinating early with agencies with long permitting lead times and provide them with complete materials so the process is not delayed, design and site your project to lessen environmental impacts and make sure it is not in conflict with local requirements, plans, or zoning, and complete your long-lead items in the environmental review process, like season-specific surveys, early. In fact, the Manual states “if the majority of the actions are not addressed it is likely that environmental review and decision-making will take additional time.” While it isn’t groundbreaking advice, it is useful for developers new to California or to serve as a checklist. The Manual, disappointingly (but perhaps not surprisingly) doesn’t provide agencies with any new means to shortcut the laborious permitting process. The main pre-filing recommendations are:Continue Reading Will California’s Best Management Practices and Guidance Manual help streamline renewable energy permitting in the California deserts?