It is proving very difficult for plaintiffs to survive a motion to dismiss, let alone obtain judicial relief associated with the alleged results of climate change.
Earlier this week, on May 20, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari to plaintiffs in the Native Village of Kivalina lawsuit against various “energy companies.” The plaintiffs were appealing the Ninth Circuit’s dismissal of Kivalina’s claims for damages under a federal common law claim of public nuisance, which the court held were displaced by the federal Clean Air Act.
Earlier this month, on May 14, 2013, the Fifth Circuit, in Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, ended the plaintiffs’ suit against various “energy companies” that were allegedly responsible for the damages associated with Hurricane Katrina. This class action lawsuit of Mississippi residents had an unusual procedural path and was recently dismissed on procedural grounds, but this action left the prior substantive decision undisturbed.
Given the lack of success in the courts and the seemingly low likelihood of significant action by the U.S. Congress regarding climate change, it appears that the efforts of the administrative branch (and U.S. EPA in particular) will continue to serve as the battleground for climate change laws and policy in the near future.
On May 9, 2013, the daily concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa monitoring station for the first time ever at least at one monitoring location according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. A separate monitoring location on Mauna Loa measured 399.9 ppm. (more…)
Filed under: Climate Change, Sustainability | Tags: Carbon, Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest report on United States (U.S.) annual emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) (available at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html) confirms the trend seen over the latest few years — the U.S. emitted 1.6 percent fewer tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2011 than in 2010. In fact, 2011 emissions were 6.9 percent lower than the amount emitted in 2005 (which was the baseline used in the failed federal climate change legislation). However, the U.S. 2011 emissions were 8 percent higher than in 1990 (the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol) and will need to be reduced another 10.1 percent to meet the Administration’s goal of a 17 percent reduction in U.S. emissions from 2005 to 2020. (more…)
On Tuesday, April 16, the European Union Parliament rejected an emergency fix to its cap-and-trade program that would temporarily remove some of the oversupply of carbon permits. Immediately following the vote, carbon prices dropped steeply, nearly 40%, hitting a record low of 2.63 euros/metric ton. (more…)
Filed under: CleanTech, Climate Change, Sustainability | Tags: Alternative Energy, Alternative Fuel, Incentives, IRS, Renewable Energy, Solar, Sustainability Practices, Tax Credits
As discussed previously in the blog, Section 48 generally allows for an investment tax credit for qualified energy property, which includes equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity. Section 50(b)(3) provides that no investment credit, which includeS the Section 48 investment tax credit, “shall be determined . . . with respect to any property used by an organization . . . which is exempt from the tax imposed.” In the past, this provision has deterred investment into significant solar projects that involved various tax-exempt and governmental bodies. It also deterred tax credit investors from purchasing partnership interests in tribal energy projects owned by Native American tribes as they were thought to be ineligible to pass-through the investment credits to investors. (more…)