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President Biden Raises the Bar on Electrification of the Auto Industry through Executive Order

On August 5, 2021, US President Joe Biden announced and signed an executive order that sets a new target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles. This executive order is consistent with President Biden’s goal of building more than 500,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers throughout the United States, which will provide manufacturing opportunities for charging infrastructure and battery technology. These new actions announced by President Biden—paired with investments in the Build Back Better agenda—aim to build up American leadership in clean cars and trucks “by accelerating innovation and manufacturing in the auto sector, bolstering the auto sector domestic supply chain, and growing auto jobs with good pay and benefits.” The executive order will commence “development of long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis.” It also directs agencies to:

  • Consult with the US Secretaries of Commerce, Labor and Energy on ways to accelerate innovation and manufacturing in the automotive sector, strengthen the domestic supply chain for that sector and grow jobs that provide good pay and benefits, as well as,
  • Secure input from a diverse range of stakeholders, including representatives from labor unions, industry, environmental justice organizations and public health experts.

Concurrently with President Biden’s announcement, American automakers Ford, GM and Stellantis, along with the United Auto Workers (UAW), released statements saying they look forward to working with the Biden Administration to enact policies that will enable President Biden’s 2030 target to be reached. In a joint statement, Ford, GM and Stellantis also recognized that the United States’ transition to electric vehicles “represents a dramatic shift from the U.S. market today that can be achieved only with the timely deployment of the full suite of electrification policies committed to by the Administration in the Build Back Better Plan, including purchase incentives, a comprehensive charging network of sufficient density to support the millions of vehicles these targets represent, investments in R&D, and incentives to expand the electric vehicle manufacturing and supply chains in the United States.” Similarly, in a joint statement from BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo, the automakers state that, “bold action from our partners in the federal government is crucial to build consumer demand for electric vehicles….” It is expected that government agencies will announce policies, procedures and regulations that will advance President Biden’s target of electric vehicles representing 50% of auto sales in 2030.

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Buttigieg Confirmation Signals Increased Investment in Renewable Energy Infrastructure and Electric Vehicles

Today, Pete Buttigieg was sworn in as secretary of transportation after his nomination passed the US Senate 86-13. His confirmation means a likely boon for investment in US infrastructure, particularly for those investing in renewable energy infrastructure, electric vehicle infrastructure and electric vehicles. In an email distributed to his staff today, he advised them that “…we will break new ground: in ensuring that our economy recovers and rebuilds, in rising to the climate challenge and in making sure transportation is an engine for equity in this country.”

US President Joe Biden has made similar pledges about infrastructure. Last week he signed an Executive Order that took bold steps to combat the climate crisis both at home and throughout the world, creating a number of opportunities for developers, lenders and investors in the renewable energy space.

Buttigieg’s confirmation is noteworthy since it is another concrete step by the Biden-Harris administration to implement its climate change agenda. For instance, the Biden-Harris administration has committed to replacing all government cars and trucks, including the fleet of United States Postal Service vehicles, with clean zero-emission electric vehicles. This would require replacing more than 645,000 vehicles, which reflects the most recent amount of government vehicles reported by the General Services Administration in 2019.

Buttigieg will now be responsible for overseeing the nation’s transportation system and creating safer roadways. The 86-13 vote signals that rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure will receive cross-party support. Buttigieg’s former experience as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will likely aid him in impacting the local levels.

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Five Takeaways: Navigating President Trump’s Executive Order on US Bulk Power System Electric Equipment

President Trump’s May 1, 2020 Executive Order prohibiting certain transactions involving bulk-power system electric equipment developed, manufactured or supplied by a foreign adversary could have far-reaching implications for both the renewable and conventional power industries. It has also raised a high level of uncertainty and risk while the industry awaits the actual implementation of the Executive Order. This interim period, as well as the breadth of the Executive Order, raises key questions and concerns for sponsors and developers of energy projects, construction contractors and energy project investors. Read our latest On the Subject for more in-depth information.

Yesterday, after the Department of Energy’s stakeholder call, we hosted a webinar that addressed important considerations as to how the Executive Order may impact your business. In particular, our hosts provided a step-by-step framework on navigating the Executive Order based on their prior US Government experience in this area and current “boots on the ground” in Washington, DC on this issue.


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President Trump’s Executive Order on US Bulk Power System Electric Equipment: Questions and Analysis

President Trump’s May 1, 2020, Executive Order prohibiting certain transactions involving bulk-power system electric equipment developed, manufactured or supplied by a foreign adversary could have far-reaching implications for both the renewable and conventional power industries. The breadth of the Executive Order raises key questions and concerns for sponsors and developers of energy projects, construction contractors and energy project investors.

Access the full article.

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The President’s New Climate Change Executive Order – What Does it Mean for the Energy Sector?

President Obama issued a new climate change-related executive order on November 1, creating a new interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience and directing all federal agencies to focus on improving the nation’s ability to anticipate and adapt to changing climate conditions.  The order does not create new obligations for regulated entities, but it does provide some insight into how federal environmental policies and regulations may change going forward.

The gist of the new order is that changing climate conditions – such as rising sea levels, longer, hotter summers and new rainfall patterns – can be seriously disruptive to the economy, to the nation’s infrastructure and to public welfare, and that federal agencies should focus on anticipating those disruptions and taking actions to minimize their harmful effects.  More specifically, the order requires federal agencies to take a close look at whether their existing policies are helping or hurting the nation’s ability to handle changing climate conditions.

Among other provisions, the new order:

  • Directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and several other agencies to undertake an  “inventory and assessment” of changes that are needed in federal water- and land-related policies, programs and regulations to “promote the dual goals of greater climate resilience and carbon sequestration;”
  • Requires all federal agencies to continue developing climate adaptation plans that identify the risks to each agency’s mission posed by climate change, and that list actions the agency intends to take to address those risks; and
  • Charges the new interagency council with coordinating the various actions required by the order.

Some of the activity contemplated by the new order is already underway.  For example, in July 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy published a detailed report on energy sector vulnerabilities to climate change and extreme weather.  Likewise, EPA has just released a series of draft climate adaptation implementation plans describing how the agency intends to respond to changing climate conditions.  EPA is soliciting public comments on its draft plans.

Private sector entities interested in what EPA and other federal agencies are doing to respond to changing climate conditions should closely monitor each agency’s draft climate adaptation plans and consider submitting comments on those plans.  One topic of potential interest is what climate change means for air-related enforcement.  EPA Region 2’s draft climate adaptation plan expressly identifies increased ozone-related enforcement as a “priority action” for the region, because the agency anticipates that climate change will lead to increased ozone levels.  EPA’s draft plans also suggest using EPA’s water-related and land use-related grants programs to promote climate change-resilient infrastructure rather than more vulnerable projects.  Finally, energy project developers should be aware that questions about climate change preparedness may now play an increasingly prominent role in environmental reviews of their projects, such as reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act.

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