Environmental Blog
Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change: The SEC Releases its Rule on Climate Disclosure: Potential Impacts to Your Business

Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change: The SEC Releases its Rule on Climate Disclosure: Potential Impacts to Your Business

Back in March of 2022, the New York Times reported the SEC proposed a rule that would require public companies to share information about how they affect climate change with both their shareholders and the federal government. The intent of the rule was to allow investors to gain a better idea of how climate change might create risks to companies, leading to the investors being able to make informed decisions regarding stock purchases or sales.

Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change: An Overview of the PCAF Global Accounting and Reporting Standard

Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change: An Overview of the PCAF Global Accounting and Reporting Standard

In the pursuit of a sustainable future, the financial industry plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change by aligning its practices with environmentally conscious standards. The Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) has emerged as a key player in this space, introducing the Global GHG Accounting and Reporting Standard specifically tailored for the financial sector. This groundbreaking standard is designed to measure and disclose the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to business sectors associated with financial activities, providing transparency and accountability in the fight against climate change. While the SEC’s proposed Climate Disclosure Rule awaits its verdict, that doesn’t mean financial institutions are off the hook.

Climate Action in Financial Institutions Initiative: Inspiration for the PCAF Global Accounting and Reporting

Climate Action in Financial Institutions Initiative: Inspiration for the PCAF Global Accounting and Reporting

Welcome back to our Banks, Borrowers, and Climate Change series! In case you missed our introduction to the series, you can read it here. Our first blog in the series, “Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change: How Disclosure of GHG Emissions Will Impact the Lending Process for Publicly Traded Corporations” is also available. The bottom line: The SEC will require public companies, including banks, to disclose annual carbon emissions from their operations in their annual report.

Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change: How Disclosure of GHG Emissions Will Impact the Lending Process for Publicly Traded Corporations

Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change: How Disclosure of GHG Emissions Will Impact the Lending Process for Publicly Traded Corporations

The EI Group, in collaboration with Environmental Risk Innovations (ERI), recently launched a joint blog series which outlines the impact of the SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rule, which will require all publicly traded corporations, including banks, to disclose their direct and indirect GHG emissions. For manufacturers, carbon emissions are generally those resulting from the products they produce (direct), from the production of energy used in their production process (indirect) and their supply chain (indirect). For publicly traded banks, this concept is slightly more abstract.

The SEC Targets Financed Emissions: Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change

The SEC Targets Financed Emissions: Banks, Borrowers and Climate Change

As climate change becomes an increasing risk to financial stability—whether by natural disasters such as hurricanes, rising sea levels and wildfires, or to corporations from increased costs associated with transition to a lower-carbon economy—financial institutions are exploring ways to integrate this segment of risk management into their operations. This initiative is being driven by a standardized climate disclosure rule anticipated for release by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in early 2024.

Why Your Company Needs to Start Re-Evaluating its ‘Carbon Neutral’ Claims

Why Your Company Needs to Start Re-Evaluating its ‘Carbon Neutral’ Claims

In 2026, the European Union (EU) will begin enforcing a new agreement that would ban misleading advertisements and provide consumers with better product information to curb greenwashing and early obsolescence of goods. Generic environmental claims such as “environmentally friendly,” “natural,” “biodegradable,” “climate neutral,” or “eco” will be banned unless the company can provide evidence of recognized “excellent environmental performance relevant to the claim.”

Achieving Zero Waste to Landfill: A Sustainable Journey

Achieving Zero Waste to Landfill: A Sustainable Journey

In a world struggling with environmental challenges, adopting a zero waste to landfill approach is a significant step towards a more sustainable future. The idea behind this concept is simple but powerful: minimize the waste you produce to the extent that nothing ends up in a landfill. While achieving zero waste might seem like an impossible goal, it is an essential endeavor that individuals, communities and businesses can work towards.

How Do I Determine How Often I Need an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection and Find a Certified Inspector?

How Do I Determine How Often I Need an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection and Find a Certified Inspector?

According to the STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection standard, the frequency of inspections for ASTs can vary depending on several factors, including the tank’s age, the material stored and local regulations. The standard provides general guidelines for inspection intervals, but the specific schedule should be determined based on a risk assessment and the conditions of the tank and its surroundings.  It is critical to determine the AST category, which aids in establishing the appropriate inspection schedule and maintenance plan. 

What Industries that Typically Use ASTs Would Be Subject to an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection?

What Industries that Typically Use ASTs Would Be Subject to an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection?

The industries that typically use aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) are numerous; however, they can be summarized as being those that typically store liquids including petroleum products, chemicals and other hazardous materials and wastes.  Industries will often choose to utilize ASTs due to their convenience, accessibility and relative ease of installation compared to underground storage tanks.

What Exactly is an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection and Do I Need One?

What Exactly is an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection and Do I Need One?

STI SP001 refers to a standard published by the Steel Tank Institute (STI). The STI is a trade association that focuses on promoting the quality and safety of steel tanks by providing guidelines for the inspection of aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) and related products.  ASTs typically contain petroleum products, chemicals and other hazardous materials.  The standard outlines the necessary procedures for inspections and addresses repairs, alterations and reconstruction of ASTs.

What the Hawaiian Wildfires Mean for Climate Sustainability

What the Hawaiian Wildfires Mean for Climate Sustainability

The current wildfires in Hawaii, like wildfires anywhere, have significant implications for climate sustainability. While Hawaii is known for its lush landscapes and tropical climate, it is not immune to the effects of climate change and the associated increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires.

North Carolina General Stormwater Permit Updates Impose Significant New Requirements

North Carolina General Stormwater Permit Updates Impose Significant New Requirements

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Industrial Stormwater Program is federally mandated and covers a wide variety of industrial activities.  Most industrial facilities are affected in some way.  Applicability to the program is dependent upon the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.  General permits have been established that apply to numerous broad categories of industrial activities with potential stormwater discharges (also based on SIC code). 

The Regulation and Due Diligence of PFAS: The Forever Chemicals

The Regulation and Due Diligence of PFAS: The Forever Chemicals

PFAS (or per- and polyflouroalkyl substances) are varied group of thousands of manufactured chemicals resistant to heat and which repel oil, water and grease, are commonly known as the “forever chemicals.” PFAS have been identified in many places ranging from public and private drinking water supplies, soil and groundwater associated with waste sites, aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) used at airport, military bases and firefighting training facilities, chemical plants and manufacturing facilities (i.e., chrome plating, electronics and textiles

Will the Adoption of the ASTM E1527-21 Standard Practice Result in an Increased Phase I ESA Cost?    

Will the Adoption of the ASTM E1527-21 Standard Practice Result in an Increased Phase I ESA Cost?    

EPA’s Final Rule approving the ASTM E-1527-21 became effective on February 13, 2023, meaning that the updated standard may now be used to satisfy the All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI).  This is a critical development for property purchasers seeking to qualify for the bona fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) safe-harbor defense to property liability under Federal and some state Superfund laws.  EPA’s approval of the ASTM E1527-21 Standard came by a notice of Final Rule published December 15, 2022, following an extended review process.

Why Companies Have Not Done a Dust Hazard Analysis

Why Companies Have Not Done a Dust Hazard Analysis

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a revised Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program on January 27, 2023. Any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosible. The purpose of the revised emphasis program is to continue OSHA inspections of facilities that generate or handle combustible dusts likely to cause fire, flash fire, deflagration and explosion hazards.

Meeting Sustainability Goals Through an Effective ISO 14001 Program

Meeting Sustainability Goals Through an Effective ISO 14001 Program

ISO 14001 is a widely recognized environmental management standard that provides a framework for organizations to manage and reduce their environmental impacts. By implementing ISO 14001, organizations can establish an environmental management system (EMS) to improve their sustainability performance. There are several ways that organizations can use ISO 14001 to drive sustainability.

Using ISO to Drive ESG

Using ISO to Drive ESG

Today, ISO certification is synonymous with quality. There are numerous benefits obtained through ISO certification, including technological, economic and social advantages. You can also improve the quality of your processes and products, better understand your business, enhance the consistency of your operations, reduce waste, save money and gain international recognition. Pursuit of ISO certification is becoming the norm among competitive business operations, especially those who target larger corporations to be an integral part of their supply chain.

New Projects Should Be Evaluated for Air Permit Requirements Early in the Design Process

New Projects Should Be Evaluated for Air Permit Requirements Early in the Design Process

As an environmental consultant who specializes in assisting industrial clients with air permitting services, I get several calls per year from environmental compliance managers along the lines of the following:

– Management desires to add a new process/modify an existing process/add new equipment.

– The unit(s) have already been purchased and will be delivered to the site next week/month/real soon.

– I need to make sure we have any permits we need and are in compliance with all environmental regulations ASAP!

Sustainability Hurdles to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Sustainability Hurdles to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

In EI’s blog series on sustainability in business, the latest article, “Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Involvement is the Key to Sustainability Success,” discussed the significant contribution of SMEs to carbon emissions via their supply chain for large corporations. When compared to the larger FORTUNE 1000 clients they support, one would logically assume that reducing carbon emissions for SMEs would be much simpler and more straightforward given their limited geographic footprint, shorter supply chains, reduced work-related travel and smaller office/workspaces to heat/cool and light.

RECENT POSTS

How Do I Determine How Often I Need an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection and Find a Certified Inspector?

According to the STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection standard, the frequency of inspections for ASTs can vary depending on several factors, including the tank’s age, the material stored and local regulations. The standard provides general guidelines for inspection intervals, but the specific schedule should be determined based on a risk assessment and the conditions of the tank and its surroundings.  It is critical to determine the AST category, which aids in establishing the appropriate inspection schedule and maintenance plan. 

read more

What Industries that Typically Use ASTs Would Be Subject to an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection?

The industries that typically use aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) are numerous; however, they can be summarized as being those that typically store liquids including petroleum products, chemicals and other hazardous materials and wastes.  Industries will often choose to utilize ASTs due to their convenience, accessibility and relative ease of installation compared to underground storage tanks.

read more

What Exactly is an STI AST SP001 External Tank Inspection and Do I Need One?

STI SP001 refers to a standard published by the Steel Tank Institute (STI). The STI is a trade association that focuses on promoting the quality and safety of steel tanks by providing guidelines for the inspection of aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) and related products.  ASTs typically contain petroleum products, chemicals and other hazardous materials.  The standard outlines the necessary procedures for inspections and addresses repairs, alterations and reconstruction of ASTs.

read more

The Regulation and Due Diligence of PFAS: The Forever Chemicals

PFAS (or per- and polyflouroalkyl substances) are varied group of thousands of manufactured chemicals resistant to heat and which repel oil, water and grease, are commonly known as the “forever chemicals.” PFAS have been identified in many places ranging from public and private drinking water supplies, soil and groundwater associated with waste sites, aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) used at airport, military bases and firefighting training facilities, chemical plants and manufacturing facilities (i.e., chrome plating, electronics and textiles

read more

Will the Adoption of the ASTM E1527-21 Standard Practice Result in an Increased Phase I ESA Cost?    

EPA’s Final Rule approving the ASTM E-1527-21 became effective on February 13, 2023, meaning that the updated standard may now be used to satisfy the All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI).  This is a critical development for property purchasers seeking to qualify for the bona fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) safe-harbor defense to property liability under Federal and some state Superfund laws.  EPA’s approval of the ASTM E1527-21 Standard came by a notice of Final Rule published December 15, 2022, following an extended review process.

read more

New Projects Should Be Evaluated for Air Permit Requirements Early in the Design Process

As an environmental consultant who specializes in assisting industrial clients with air permitting services, I get several calls per year from environmental compliance managers along the lines of the following:

– Management desires to add a new process/modify an existing process/add new equipment.

– The unit(s) have already been purchased and will be delivered to the site next week/month/real soon.

– I need to make sure we have any permits we need and are in compliance with all environmental regulations ASAP!

read more

So You Received Your Air Permit – Now What?

Most project design/build teams planning new construction or modifications to existing facilities involving sources of air emission understand that these actions require an air permit prior to starting construction.  It is also well known that the emissions, air quality evaluations, and application process should start early, as air permitting is typically on a critical path which can impact scheduling.  If you find yourself as the lucky delegate responsible for air permitting and arrive at the point of receiving the glorious prize of the long-awaited air permit, finally releasing your team to begin construction, CONGRATULATIONS!  You have been victorious, but now what?

read more

What is the Difference Between a Phase I ESA and a Desktop Review and Which Should You Order?

Phase Is are conducted per ASTM E 1527-13 and include several major components: a site reconnaissance, completion of a User Questionnaire, a regulatory database search, interviews with persons knowledgeable of the property, and a review of reasonably ascertainable and readily available historical sources to identify the use of the property back to 1940 or its first developed use, whichever is earlier.  As such, the ASTM E 1527-13 Standard Practice provides specific guidance as to what must be addressed.  However, there is no ASTM standard for Desktop Reviews (more commonly called Risk Search with Risk Assessments-RSRAs).  Therefore, RSRAs differ from consultant to consultant and also do not provide protection on CERCLA. 

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Why Do I Care About My Neighbors? The Impact of Adjoining Properties

When considering environmental due diligence, one must consider the environmental conditions of the property in question (herein the subject property) and adjoining and nearby properties that might impact the subject property. This includes impacts to soils, surface waters, and groundwater from hazardous substances and/or petroleum products. When performing environmental due diligence (mostly likely a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment [Phase I]) one must look at potential sources of contamination from not only the subject property, but also from adjoining and nearby properties. So the actions of your neighbors might affect the value of your property, the perceived value of your property, the ability for you (the owner) to sell the property, the ability of a bank to foreclose on a property, plans for redevelopment of the subject property, and restrictions on the use of the subject property.

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Why Do I Need a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment When I Have a Phase II?

Have you ever come across a situation where the property owner provides a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (Phase II), which indicates the property is “clean.” You contact your bank and your loan officer indicates you still need a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I). You are confused and after you hang up the phone, you are still unclear why you need to have the added cost of a Phase I.

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What is a Regulatory File Review and Why Might I Need One?

A Regulatory File Review is required under ASTM Standard Practice (E 1527-13 [effective 11-13-13]) when the subject property or an adjoining property is noted in the Standard Environmental Records Sources during the course of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA).  Conducting a Regulatory File Review involves the procurement of regulatory files from Federal, state, and/or local governing agencies for review by an Environmental Professional (EP). 

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Why Do I Need a GPR Survey When I Have Documentation that USTs Have Been Removed?

When you have a Closure Assessment Report (CAR) stating underground storage tanks (USTs) have been removed and that removal has been granted a No Further Action status from the state or other governing regulatory body, it might seem that nothing else is needed. While this is often the case, many times it is unknown if additional tanks remain on site; including tanks that pre-date the requirement for registration at the Federal and state levels in the 1980s.

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How Trouts Stress the Importance of Protecting Our Waters

Have you ever wondered why there’s an insignia of a trout stamped on the top of stormwater drains? If you’ve never noticed this, take a look the next time you happen to see one on a sidewalk or in a parking lot. It’s probably not hard to guess the reason when its printed directly on top, but most people are unaware that those drains lead directly to our streams and rivers.

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New CSB Accidental Release Reporting Requirement Now in Effect

If you had a release of a hazardous air pollutant, you would have to notify your authorizing environmental agency under various rules, Federal RMP (112(r)), Title V, or maybe a State Air Toxics regulation. You might even be required to notify the National Response Center (NRC). As of March 23, 2021, you can now add the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) to your “must call” list.

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Identifying the Need for a Facility Environmental Compliance Audit

Just about any facility that takes raw materials to make something has unwanted byproducts in the form of air emissions, residuals in wastewaters, and materials disposed of as solid and sometimes hazardous wastes. Federal, state, and local rules govern handling, management, and control of pollution from these and other “discharges”. Determining which rules and requirements apply and keeping up with the controls, monitoring, testing, and recordkeeping are not always straightforward tasks.

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Addition of PFAS Chemicals to Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Reporting for CY 2020

Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) requires owners/operators of facilities, with 10 or more full-time equivalent employees with covered operations meeting certain North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, to submit a Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Form A or Form R for each TRI-listed chemical manufactured, processed, or otherwise used in quantities above reporting thresholds by July 1 each year.

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EPA RCRA Enforcement Priorities to Continue in 2021

Although this is not a hot take, we were reminded during a recent RCRA workshop that National Compliance Initiatives (NCI) established for 2020-2023 will remain on the EPA’s (and State’s) priority lists for 2021. Given a change in the administration, the priority may be heightened.

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EPCRA Reporting Requirements: Is Your Company Subject to Annual Tier II and Toxic Release Inventory Reporting Basics?

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was passed in 1986 in response to concerns regarding the environmental and safety hazards posed by the storage and handling of toxic chemicals. These concerns were triggered by the 1984 disaster in Bhopal, India, caused by an accidental release of methylisocyanate. The release killed or severely injured more than 2,000 people.

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RCRA Requirements: Does Your Facility Generate Hazardous Waste?

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, is the principal Federal law in the United States governing the proper management and disposal of hazardous waste. The law describes the waste management program mandated by Congress that gave the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to develop the RCRA program.

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