On June 6, 2022, President Joe Biden signed an order that will exempt Southeast Asian nations from any new tariffs on solar panels for two years in order to alleviate concerns about the crippling effects of an ongoing Commerce Department investigation into whether manufacturers of solar panel components in Southeast Asia are being used to circumvent U.S. tariffs on Chinese solar companies. Biden will also invoke the Defense Protection Act to drive U.S. manufacturing of solar panels and other clean energy technologies in the future, with the support of loans and grants. If production ramps up as expected, the administration expects domestic solar manufacturing to triple by 2024.
Cyber fraud is a real and present danger across almost all industry sectors, and the construction sector is not immune as our recent article demonstrated. According to the FCA there has been a jump of 52% in incident reports and recent global conflict may possibly increase this threat.
One of the primary types of fraud affecting the construction industry is the prevalence of payment diversion fraud. It is estimated that contractors pay out around £100m per year in fake invoices. In some cases, a single instance of payment diversion fraud can amount to millions of pounds. In such cases it is easy to see how the fraud would place intolerable pressure on the cash flow of a business and in extreme instances even lead to insolvency. In an industry already under pressure through factors such as super-inflation and rising energy costs, fraud is yet another unwelcome factor which can be detrimental to cash flow on a project.
As Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill (SB 1834) occupies the front pages of many media outlets today, one is reminded of an earlier (2012) state legislative exercise in prohibiting engagement with reality: North Carolina’s “Don’t say climate change” bill (H819).Unhappy with the perceived prospect of dampened economic development resulting from the state’s Coastal Resources Commission estimating that the sea level would rise by 39 inches in the next century, the state legislature chose to bury the state’s head in the sand. It passed a bill prohibiting the state’s coastal management and environmental agencies from defining the rate of sea level rise for regulatory purposes for the next four years. (“The Coastal Resources Commission and the Division of Coastal Management of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall not define rates of sea-level change for regulatory purposes prior to July 1, 2016.”)
Well, the climate didn’t care. Based on a 5-year report newly released by NOAA (full NOAA report), the estimate generated by NC’s Coastal Resources Commission has proven to be very much on target.
To read the full text of this post by Seth v.d.H. Cooley, visit the Environmental, Social and Governance Blog.
Construction, energy and engineering companies have lagged others in taking steps to protect themselves from the growing number of cyber-attacks, and failing to take preventive measures can lead to expensive litigation.
Glasgow and COP26 resulted in various commitments from global economies to work towards targets in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The UK is to target the reduction of greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050.
However, even prior to COP26 there were already legislative changes afoot to have cleaner air. The Finance Bill 2021, and the associated secondary legislation, as part of the government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions, has the effect of restricting the usage of red diesel after April 2022.
In the Achmea case the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) held that Article 8 of the Netherlands – Slovakia bilateral investment treaty, which allowed for the resolution of disputes by way of arbitration, was incompatible with EU law. The rationale for the decision was that a tribunal may have to interpret or apply EU law and where a question of law arose, unlike a Member State court, that question of law could not be referred to the ECJ. In other words, intra-EU bilateral investment treaty arbitration provisions, as reasoned by the ECJ, deprived the EU courts of jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation of EU law.
We raised the prospect that the ramifications from the decision were potentially far reaching and were not, it seemed, confined to the BIT between Netherlands and Slovakia.
The impact and uncertainty caused by the Achmea case on investor state dispute settlement provisions contained in intra-EU Bilateral Investment Treaties continues. These issues are potentially far reaching and may extend further than originally envisaged, namely that this case was arguably specific to the BIT between Netherlands and Slovakia.
On December 15, 2021, the New York City Council passed a bill prohibiting the Department of Buildings from issuing a construction permit for any new building that burns any fuel that emits more than 25 kilograms of carbon dioxide per million BTUs. The revised bill is directed in particular to the burning of natural gas for heating and hot water. The passed bill reflected a compromise among parties who supported and parties who opposed the last version, a much more restrictive bill (see our November 23rd alert titled “New York on the Path to Requiring All-Electric Buildings,” commenting on the original bill). The passed bill eliminates the requirement found in earlier versions to ban gas use in renovated buildings, unless such renovation requires a new building permit, and moves out the effective date for gas-burning prohibition for buildings taller than seven stories.
For all new buildings that are less than seven stories, the ban becomes effective on January 1, 2024, except that new buildings where 50% or more units constitute affordable housing will have until January 1, 2026 for the ban to apply. For buildings that are seven stories or higher, the ban takes effect after July 1, 2027 and for affordable housing after December 31, 2027. Exceptions will be made where use of natural gas or another substance emitting carbon in excess of 25 kilograms per million BTUs is necessary for manufacturing, operation of a laboratory, laundromat, hospital, crematorium, commercial kitchen or for emergency or standby power.
The bill is intended as a companion to Local Law 97, which provides for significant penalties if New York City buildings do not comply with mandates to reduce emissions according to the schedule set forth therein. Currently in New York City, buildings are responsible for approximately two-thirds of the harmful emissions that result in poor air quality and impact the climate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill or allow it to lapse into law. Reports indicate that Mayor-elect Eric Adams supports this initiative.
Developers of new buildings in New York state and of new and renovated buildings in New York City may soon be prohibited from powering and heating their buildings with any fossil fuels. Bills are pending in the New York Senate and the New York City Council that, if enacted, would require newly constructed buildings in the state―and in the case of the city, renovated buildings―to be developed as all-electric buildings. With stakeholder opposition to both bills, either could see changes as they work their way through their respective legislative processes.
To read the full text of this Alert by Duane Morris attorney Phyllis Kessler, please visit the Firm website.
Current forecasts in the UK are that electricity demand will double in the next 30 years. Front and centre of the government’s planned solution for energy generation between now and 2050 is nuclear power. The Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill 2021-2022 proposes for the government to negotiate an arrangement with a specially regulated nuclear company, which would receive regular payments from electricity supply companies to help fund the construction of a new nuclear facility.