Climate change – and the legislative, regulatory, investment and litigation responses to it – presents some of the most important and complex challenges facing the legal and business world today. Companies large and small, and spanning the entire spectrum of business and economic activity, confront issues posed by it. Our team is able to assist those organizations on three continents, from offices in the United States, European Union and China.
The dynamics surrounding a climate change legal practice are inherently in flux. In earlier years, the focus was primarily on legislation and international negotiations. Now, however, climate change issues are dominated by regulations, litigation and energy-related transactions; such will likely be the case into the foreseeable future.
Sidley’s climate change practice has been built with the depth and flexibility to adapt from the previous legislative and international arenas to the national and state-based regulatory focuses of the future. Our experience includes:
- Counseling on significant federal, state and regional climate change regulations, including regulations with cross-border ramifications such as the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard; California and Quebec’s efforts to link their state and provincial climate change programs across the borders; the regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from renewable biomass; and European efforts to expand its own carbon trading program to multinational vessels and airplanes.
- Representation in virtually every significant climate change nuisance litigation matter, including a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in the American Electric Power case and in the Fifth (Comer) and Ninth Circuits (Kivalina).
- Advising on and drafting climate change legislative, regulatory and policy proposals.
- Counseling on climate change issues that arise in the context of federal licensing, permitting and funding.
- A knowledgeable team with a strong transactional base in climate change-related work, including renewable energy projects.
Sidley is a leader in the significant climate change litigation occurring across the country and is prepared to help clients face these litigation challenges in the future. We have taken a lead role at the district and appellate levels in each of the federal common lawsuits involving tort cases for public trust claims against significant GHG emitters. In those cases, states, cities and private plaintiffs allege that GHG emissions have created a public nuisance, damaged property and caused economic losses and that the federal and state governments have allegedly breached a trust duty.
Our lawyers also represent several trade associations in a constitutional challenge to California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. We are working on several cases challenging a variety of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) climate change rules, as well as defending air permits for power plants challenged on climate change grounds.
We have expanded our legislative capacity in response to Congressional attention to energy and climate change. Our lawyers advise clients on proposed and considered legislation in the U.S. Congress, including legislative proposals relating to cap and trade programs, carbon taxes and regulatory standards for emissions controls from major emitting sources. We also advise clients on state proposals to regulate GHG emissions from stationary sources.
Sidley plays a key role in discussions regarding legislation to displace the EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions, preempt state authority over the same matters and end private tort suits based on emissions of greenhouse gases. We are also a leader in the development of legislative text regarding methodologies to support offset protocols in cap and trade legislation and have played the primary role in redrafting legislative language that was adopted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to regulate future GHG emissions from coal fired power plants. As new bills, drafts and amendments continue to circulate in Congress, we use our experience to help our clients receive the most timely, informed and important analysis.
We have a strong foundation in advising clients on regulatory developments related to climate change. Our lawyers have counseled more than 40 of the world’s leading multinational companies and trade associations on every significant U.S. climate change-related rulemaking, including the Department of the Interior’s listing of Polar Bears under an Endangered Species Act rulemaking, and the EPA’s:
- Rulemaking on the carbon capture and storage technologies under the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control program.
- Mandatory GHG reporting rule, as well as the carbon sequestration reporting follow-on rulemaking.
- Endangerment finding.
- Light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emissions rule.
- GHG stationary source permitting “tailoring” rule.
- GHG stationary source permitting interpretive memo.
- Renewable fuel standard rulemakings.
Sidley provided crucial and timely analysis as each rule developed, helping clients generate effective response strategies. This included submission of comments in rulemakings and advising with agency officials to win important concessions from executive agencies. We also lodged federal court challenges to the GHG reporting rule and NSR tailoring rules on behalf of a group of trade associations, and intervened in support of EPA’s decisions in several other rulemakings.
Sidley’s global transactional practices (mergers and acquisitions, financing and lending, project financing, tax, etc.) form an excellent foundation to serve client transactional needs both in matters directly involving climate-related investments, as well as in transactions involving assets whose economic viability depends heavily on government-mandated efficiency or emissions controls and climate change policy. We assist clients in specific climate change-related transactions and help them address climate change concerns (both in due diligence efforts and contract terms) in more general transactions.
Biofuels and Renewable Energy
Our lawyers advise financial, manufacturing and technology businesses with biofuel and renewable energy projects, including corporate securities, project finance, due diligence, planning and permitting for new plants, and establishing joint ventures involving emerging technologies.
Recent Awards and Recognitions
As a key component of Sidley’s Environmental practice, we have been acknowledged for our climate change work in the 2018 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, receiving a Band Two designation nationally. In the 2018 edition of Chambers Global, our Climate Change practice received a Band Four designation.
About our team
Sidley’s climate change group has extensive experience helping clients identify the legislative, regulatory, economic and legal risks that arise as a result of climate change and the shifting legal landscape. Our U.S. lawyers represent the industry’s most significant trade associations and companies in counseling on regulation and litigation pertaining to the upcoming era of GHG emissions controls in the United States. Sidley’s 20-member strong industry coalition, led by the National Association of Manufacturers, has played a role in every major climate change regulatory initiative and is leading litigation efforts on several fronts.