It’s Not Easy Being ‘Green’ . . . Or Is It? (Part 2)

By M. Gray Styers Jr.

This article is the second in a pair of articles related to “green policies” and how to implement them.  The first part of this series was previously published here.

As concern over climate change makes almost-daily headlines, “green” policies are becoming increasingly popular.  Part 1 of this article noted that — from Fortune 500 company board rooms to the N.C. Governor’s Office — recent policy pronouncements call for reduced energy usage, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and increased numbers of zero emission vehicles.  But how — in a state like North Carolina, where direct retail purchases from third-parties are not permitted — do retail utility customers achieve the goals of these “green” policies?  Part 1 of this series discussed energy efficiency measures, time-of-use rates, and self-generation.  This second part of the series looks specifically at HB 589, passed by the General Assembly in 2017, N.C. Sess. Law 2017-192, and implemented by the N.C. Utilities Commission over the past eighteen months, and examines whether (or not) it may make it “easier . . . to be green” by providing new mechanisms for utility customers to access renewable energy resources.

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It’s Not Easy Being ‘Green’ . . . Or Is It? (Part 1)

This article is the first in a pair of articles related to “Green Policies” and how to implement them.  The second part in this series will be published in the coming weeks.

By M. Gray Styers Jr.

Your corporate General Counsel client calls and says, “Our largest customer (or our largest institutional investor) wants to see our green renewable energy policy and we don’t have one. Draft a ‘Green Policy’ to be considered at our board meeting next week.” Or perhaps your client asks, after-the-fact, “We just passed a ‘Green Policy’ for our company; how can we implement it under applicable laws?” Your first reaction might be “It’s not easy being Green,” but on second thought, “. . . maybe it is.”

The website www.RE100.org contains a long list (over 200) of companies from A (ABInBev) to almost Z (Wells Fargo, Workday and Yoox), that have adopted corporate goals committing to use 100% renewable power. These examples of green policies are readily available; they are not confidential corporate documents. In fact, most are posted on their company websites and promoted prominently so that their customers or investors can see them. E.g. Fifth-third Bankcorp; and Johnson & Johnson.

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Reminder: NCBA EENR Sustainability Essay Contest

Please pass along the following information to any high school students in your contacts that may be interested in writing about North Carolina’s sustainable future.

The North Carolina Bar Association’s Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Law Section is pleased to announce that it is again sponsoring a sustainability essay contest. Essays by last year’s contest winners included Wood Pellets as Biofuel: Is it Sustainable?, Biomass: Helpful or Harmful?, and Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: Waste.

Access a flyer providing details about the contest here. The deadline for submissions is Friday May 31, 2019. 

Please feel free to forward this information to any of your contacts who might be interested in the contest or who might know folks who are interested.

If you have any questions, please direct them to mskenned@email.unc.edu, Maria Savasta-Kennedy, North Carolina Bar Association, Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section, Sustainability Committee Chair.

Survey Results Will Guide Us As We Build On Our Success

By Brooks Pearson

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that I am halfway into my tenure as chair.  Earlier this month I checked off one of my goals as chair – to diversify the location of our section council meetings.  As the results of our survey illustrate, one of the greatest values of membership in the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Section is networking, and it is important to bring the fun to our members who live outside of the Triangle.  It was great to see so many of our Charlotte area members at Blackfinn Ameripub for our social event, and again at lunch to hear former Section Chair Rick Gaskins and Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation Director Emilee Syrewicze regale us with coal ash stories.  Thank you to Robinson Bradshaw for hosting!

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EENR First-place Essay: ‘Wood Pellets as Biofuel: Is it Sustainable?’

As we wrote last month, the North Carolina Bar Association’s Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section is pleased to announce the winners of its 2018 Sustainability Essay Contest.  A description of the contest and this year’s topic can be found here.  Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners.

Published below is Emily Liu’s first-place essay on “Wood Pellets as Biofuel: Is it Sustainable?” ($1,000 prize + publication).

Previously published are Catherine Trusky’s “Biomass: Helpful or Harmful?” (Second Place, $500 prize) and Ann Winstead’s “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: Waste” (Third place, $250 prize)

A special thanks to Professor Maria Savasta-Kennedy, Ted Feitshans, and Blakely Hildebrand for their time and effort coordinating this contest!

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‘Biomass: Helpful or Harmful?’: 2018 Sustainability Essay Contest Second-Place Winner

As we announced last week, the North Carolina Bar Association’s Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section is pleased to announce the winners of its 2018 Sustainability Essay Contest.  A description of the contest and this year’s topic can be found here.  Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners.

Emily Liu:  “Wood Pellets as Biofuel: Is it Sustainable?”  FIRST PLACE  ($1000 prize + publication)

Catherine Trusky: “Biomass: Helpful or Harmful?”  SECOND PLACE ($500 prize)

Ann Winstead: “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: Waste”  THIRD PLACE ($250 prize)

The text of Catherine Trusky’s second place essay, “Biomass: Helpful or Harmful?” is published below.  The third place entry was published on our blog last week, and the first place entry will be published in the coming weeks.

A special thanks to Professor Maria Savasta-Kennedy, Ted Feitshans, and Blakely Hildebrand for their time and effort coordinating this contest!

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Welcome to the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section Blog!

By Brooks Rainey Pearson

Starting a few years ago, the Bar Association began to offer each Section the chance to move its newsletter content online to its own Section blog page. This year we decided to make that transition. We hope that a digital option will allow for faster, more robust sharing of information.

A huge thank you to Amber Nimocks at the Bar Association, and to our 2018-2019 communications co-chairs, Laura Truesdale, Hayes Finley, and Matt Tynan for making this transition happen.

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EENR Section Announces Winners of the 2018 Sustainability Essay Contest

The North Carolina Bar Association’s Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section is pleased to announce the winners of its 2018 Sustainability Essay Contest, which focused this year on the following topic:

“Explain the tradeoffs in the use of biomass.  Tradeoffs include: their impact on the environment; their relative ‘carbon neutrality’; their impacts on surrounding communities, including job creation and environmental justice concerns.  Conclude whether, in light of these tradeoffs, we should use the biofuel you analyzed as a renewable energy source in North Carolina.”

A link to the full essay prompt can be found here.  All of the entries came from high school students across the state of North Carolina, and we appreciate all of the students who participated!  Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners.

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Blockchain and Potential Impacts to Agriculture and Food Safety

By Jeremy Muhlfelder

Blockchain, the distributed, immutable, public ledger technology that underlies popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, has the potential to impact all realms of commerce by removing inefficient third-party intermediaries from industry systems and processes. The food industry, particularly livestock and agricultural production, is fraught with administrative headaches and a lack of transparency. These problems make the food industry ripe for disruption, and implementing blockchain technology in the food supply chain, as promoted by companies like IBM, is an important step for the industry to enter the age of exponential technology. Matthew Wilson, Retailers and Producers Turn to IBM Blockchain to Improve Safety, available at https://www.ibm.com/blogs/cloud-computing/2017/08/blockchain-food-safety/ (Aug. 24, 2017).

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North Carolina’s Participation in the Volkswagen Settlement

By Brian Phillips and Phyllis D. Jones

On September 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cited the Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VW) with a Notice of Violation (NOV) for noncompliance of Section 203(a)(3)(B) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. § 75229(a)(3)(B). This NOV was issued because Volkswagen manufactured and installed defeat devices in certain model year 2009 – 2015 2.0-liter diesel engine light-duty vehicles that circumvented EPA’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions standard. The complaint filed by EPA alleges the defeat devices cause the vehicle’s emissions to exceed EPA’s standards during normal driving conditions. During normal driving conditions, the software renders certain emission control systems inoperative resulting in increased emissions.

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