Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Renewables and Climate Change Law

Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Renewables and Climate Change Law


Businesses today are challenged by rapidly evolving mandatory and voluntary programs to address climate change, protect limited resources, respond to consumer preferences and increase global sustainability.  Protecting and conserving water, air and land resources – the traditional realm of Schiff Hardin’s environmental practice – figures front and center in these programs. Our practitioners’ deep knowledge in this arena, coupled with our problem-solving abilities, provides the foundation for a range of services to enhance your company’s sustainability.

Climate Change Risks and Opportunities

Addressing climate change is so difficult because the fossil-fuel emissions from land and transportation sources – which must be minimized to affect the climate – are the inexorable result of combustion. Therefore, physical and technological sea changes must be developed, financed, and constructed across the American economy.  Schiff Hardin understands that meeting the issues head on with reasoned approaches that incorporate policy, technology, stewardship, and public education are key to the future success of business.

Our attorneys represent clients as they develop strategies to address regulations related to greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of those regulations on future business plans. Schiff Hardin also is well positioned to assist clients in developing and implementing legislative strategies to achieve their business and policy objectives. The Environmental Group has played a role in the development, interpretation and implementation of all major energy and environmental legislative and regulatory schemes for more than 40 years. They understand complex emission rate standards, new permitting regimes, and the business risks and opportunities that accompany them. This experience puts our lawyers in a better position to counsel clients seeking to implement sustainability plans and to assist with assessing the growing climate change regulatory reach. Schiff Hardin brings together highly skilled lawyers from a wide cross-section of practice areas – including Environmental, Energy, Real Estate and Corporate – to help clients efficiently implement applicable requirements and capitalize on new market opportunities.

Environmental Drivers

In the past, starting a new business or production process required environmental permits and pollution prevention strategies. Planning for and obtaining energy supply contracts or water resources, while necessary, were not the determining factors in whether to manufacture a new product or build a new facility. Today, especially in the southwestern United States and internationally, evaluating water supply is an absolute prerequisite. Energy needs and limited resources are quickly becoming the forces driving business decisions.  Pressure to develop sustainable practices throughout the supply chain requires additional forethought and innovation.

Current and expected legislation and regulations are forcing business to focus on the technologies of production and transportation as never before. The federal Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule, for example, threatens to alter the cost and dispatch of energy resources in ways never imagined. The Rule, as proposed, introduces new levels of complexity and affect businesses previously assumed to have little or no environmental impact. Industry sectors facing these new challenges include the traditional — energy, transportation, manufacturing, building and construction — and the not so traditional — retail, insurance, government, banking and finance.

At the same time, new regulations are creating new markets and new opportunities. New markets, including renewable energy, carbon trading, reuse of, resale of and resource recovery from former waste products, and clean energy technologies ("clean tech"), demand new approaches to create new earning potential for businesses.  Further, businesses can better manage the risks of tighter environmental controls and limited resources through conservation and reuse technologies.  Many businesses are now attracting new clients and investors through the adoption of sustainable business practices. With Schiff Hardin’s advice, businesses can maximize those opportunities.

Energy and Environmental Law Adviser

Court Sets Citizen Suit Case for Trial Even Though State Regulators Are Evaluating Similar Issues

Citizen suits can be complicated when states engage in regulatory actions after a private party files a complaint. The major federal environmental statutes are largely intended to be implemented by state and federal regulators, and suits by private parties including non-governmental organizations are intended to supplement — and not supplant — the regulators’ role. Defendants... Continue Reading