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Energy & Sustainability 2017 Year in Review: Policy Developments (Part 3 of 4)

In this four-part series, we revisit 2017’s biggest developments in Energy & Sustainability-related news, milestones, policy changes, and financial transactions. This is the third installment of the series. Click to read Part 1 and Part 2.

A handful of Energy and Sustainability related developments emerged from Washington, D.C. in 2017:

  • January:
    • Texas Governor Rick Perry was confirmed as Energy Secretary, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was confirmed as EPA Administrator.
  • March:
    • President Trump signed an executive order dismantling portions of President Obama’s landmark climate change regulations. The order directs the agency to review and likely repeal the 2015 Clean Power Plan (111d), which requires existing power plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the earlier Section 111(b) rule limiting GHG emissions from future power plants. It also lifts the year-old coal leasing moratorium, unravels EPA and Department of Interior regulations on methane emissions and fracking, and overturns guidance for incorporating climate change into federal projects and the social cost of carbon.
  • June:
    • President Trump announced that the United States would cease implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, making the U.S. the only country in the world planning to opt out of the accord. In response, a number of U.S. states and cities announced their intention to go forward with implementation of the Paris Agreement goals, with California Governor Jerry Brown going so far as to sign an agreement between his state and China on reducing emissions.
  • August:
    • The Department of Energy released a comprehensive report on the reliability and resilience of the nation’s electric grid and an overview of the evolution of energy markets. The study contains a series of recommendations from the department meant to inform and guide policymakers, regulators, and the public.
  • November:
    • The Department of Energy approved the Presidential permit for the proposed Northern Pass Transmission Line project, a 192-mile above and below ground alternating and direct current transmission system that will deliver up to 1090 megawatts of low-emission hydropower from Quebec, Canada to Deerfield, New Hampshire. The project is estimated to provide more than $600 million in annual energy cost savings for New England customers.
  • Looking Ahead:
    • President Trump’s administration is expected to make a decision on solar tariffs around January 26th. The administration can decide to impose tariffs on imported solar technology, and the International Trade Commission is recommending a 30% tariff on large solar cells and a 35% tariff on imported modules.

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Thomas R. Burton, III

Member / Chair, Energy & Sustainability Practice

Thomas R. Burton III has helped to shape the clean energy industry by drawing on his passion for innovation. As a Mintz attorney, Tom counsels investors, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 100 companies. He also guides start-up organizations and accelerators to foster the next generation of energy leaders.

Sahir Surmeli

Member / Co-chair, Energy & Sustainability Practice

Sahir Surmeli is a Mintz business counselor who advises companies, boards, entrepreneurs, investment banks, and venture and private equity investors as they grow. He handles public offerings, 144A and private financings, acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic partnerships.