Biden administration issues two new environmental rules

The Biden administration issued new environmental rules in the past month to require climate-related disclosures by certain public companies and to establish air pollution emissions guidelines.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on March 6, 2024, that it had adopted a final rule aimed at establishing standards for climate-related disclosures by certain public companies. The rule will, in part, require certain companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions to investors. The rule also includes amendments to the 2022 proposed rule in response to public comments, such as requiring large and mid-sized companies to disclose emissions as opposed to all public companies as initially proposed. The final rule also will not require companies to disclose emissions from products they sell. 

Ten state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on March 6 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit aiming to block the rule, arguing that it exceeds the SEC’s statutory authority and “sets up a framework where a federal agency is forcing companies to put forward initiatives and disclose information that it might not otherwise want to do,” according to Bloomberg Law

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also issued a final rule on March 8, 2024, aimed at reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The rule, in part, establishes new emissions standards for oil and gas and sets performance standards to address methane emissions from existing sources. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed a lawsuit on March 8 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking to block the EPA rule, arguing in a statement that “EPA’s rule violates fundamental principles of federalism by forcing the States to adopt Federal standards as their own in an unlawful attempt to regulate existing sources.” Senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund Rosalie Winn disagreed, claiming that the “EPA’s final methane protections for the oil and gas sector are firmly rooted in the extensive factual record before the agency and EPA’s core authority to address harmful pollution under Section 111 of the Clean Act,” according to E&E News.  

Additional reading: