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Climate Change

Climate change represents one of the most complex challenges of the 21st century. Uncertainty regarding the effect of changing global weather patterns is matched only by the uncertainty surrounding the slowly emerging regulatory regimes designed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). With the collapse of efforts by the U.S. Congress to enact a comprehensive cap-and-trade program, some states and local governments are attempting to fill the void. The most dramatic of these is California’s own cap-and-trade program, but many other states and local governments, acting both together and separately, are adopting regulatory programs that are intended, at least in part, to encourage conduct that results in lower GHG emissions.

These regulatory efforts have one thing in common: they create opportunities for research and investment in clean technology, renewable energy, and alternative fuels. Davis Wright Tremaine’s attorneys are ideally positioned to assist our clients in making the most of these opportunities. Our multidisciplinary team includes lawyers with regulatory, transactional, and intellectual property expertise, as well as the perspective of a lawyer who teaches Climate Change Law and Policy at the University of Washington law school. Together, this team can help you identify and maximize the opportunities created by an evolving regulatory environment, and then structure a transaction or develop IP strategies that fully captures those benefits.

We assist clients in all sectors of the economy in securing compliance with regulations being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental agencies, and in meeting the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its state counterparts. Due to our longstanding presence in China, we are also uniquely positioned to assist clients in developing renewable energy projects and protecting their intellectual property in the Chinese market.

Our particular strengths with renewable energy project development, as well as related transactions and regulatory obligations, enable us to comprehensively address the climate change-related needs of stakeholders in the energy sector. Through our offices on the West Coast, and particularly in California, which has the most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the country, we have gained deep experience in handling the purchase and sale of renewable energy credits (RECs) despite conflicting state requirements.

We regularly advise clients on climate change-related strategies and transactions. Some examples include:

  • Advising utilities on the potential impact of future federal GHG regulation on their electric generation assets, with recommendations regarding mitigation of the risks
  • Advising various independent power producers on market structure, renewable portfolio standards, greenhouse gas emission standards and climate initiatives--including implementation of California’s cap and trade program and related measures
  • Representing the non-profit entity responsible for acquiring carbon offsets with funds from developers of fossil fuel-fired facilities under Oregon’s energy facility siting law
  • Representing an independent power producer in the California Public Utility Commission proceeding establishing a GHG emission performance standard for long-term power procurement by California utilities
  • Advising a state governmental agency on the impact of GHG legislation on its contracting for power supply
  • Advising an international corporation regarding the development of GHG reduction offsets in China through utilization of the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol