Environment & Energy Insights

Jeffrey Karp

Jeff heads the firm’s Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Practice Group. The Group includes the following fields of practice: environmental regulation, compliance, litigation and transactions; climate-related business & technology; energy transactions and finance; renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology; and water resources and conservation. The Group brings together practitioners from across the firm’s legal disciplines in its offices in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., London and Tel Aviv. Jeff’s practice focuses on assisting clients in resolving complex regulatory matters and high-stakes business disputes, and engaging in cutting-edge technology transactions. He represents clients on the full range of environmental compliance issues under federal and state laws, including government investigations and enforcement actions. He also has extensive litigation experience, both on the government side and in private practice, and has an impressive track record of resolving disputes short of litigation, both with respect to claims arising under a wide range of federal and state laws, and those involving complex transactions. Jeff advises corporations, developers, financiers and individuals seeking to participate in water, renewable energy, and clean technology transactions and project development worldwide, with an emphasis on assisting Israeli companies seeking to commercialize their products, services, and technologies. He also has substantial experience assisting clients in addressing legal, contractual, and regulatory issues arising during the development of large-scale infrastructure projects, including obtaining government authorizations and negotiating project agreements. Before entering private practice in 1990, Jeff served as an environmental prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he litigated and later also supervised enforcement cases involving a variety of environmental laws.
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Recent Posts

Greenhouse Gas Quantification Under FERC’s Pipeline Certification Process

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 7/30/19 11:43 AM

By  Jeffrey Karp and Maxwell Unterhalter

Since our last article discussing the way in which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC" or "the Commission") considers greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate impacts in the pipeline certification process, the conflict has not abated. Presently, the Commission has just four members; a fifth member has not been appointed by the President since the death of Commissioner McIntyre on January 2, 2019.[1] With no nominee to replace the late Commissioner McIntyre, the remaining two Democratic and two Republican commissioners have stalemated over whether FERC is adequately fulfilling its National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) responsibilities in evaluating certification applications for natural gas pipelines.[2] The lack of consensus among the four commissioners has slowed the certification of proposed pipeline projects, leading to cancellation of at least one application.[3]

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Topics: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Natural Gas, Energy Projects, FERC

PFAS Update: Evolving Science and Liability

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 7/9/19 12:27 PM

By Jeffrey Karp, Maxwell Unterhalter, and James Wilhelm

Recently, we have addressed the evolving regulatory landscape for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as the federal and state governments grapple with finding the best approach to handle PFAS releases from manufacturing facilities, fire and crash training areas, and industrial and municipal waste disposal sites into soil, groundwater, and drinking water systems. A growing awareness of PFAS persistence and the possible negative health effects at low levels in the environment also has resulted in an increasing number of lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of PFAS and other potentially liable parties. This article discusses how scientific studies on PFAS toxicity and potential endangerment to human health and the environment have influenced such litigation.

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Topics: PFAS

Puerto Rico Update: Evolving Renewable Generation Plans

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 6/27/19 5:13 PM

By: Jeffrey Karp and Maxwell Unterhalter

Nearly two years following hurricanes Irma and Maria, challenges remain as Puerto Rico seeks to develop a cleaner and more resilient power grid. In November 2018, we discussed the evolving renewable energy situation in Puerto Rico as proposals for 100% renewable generation appeared stalled in its legislature. Half a year later, Puerto Rico has passed a new law that calls for implementing aggressive renewable energy goals.

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Topics: Solar Energy, Renewable Energy, Puerto Rico

PFAS Regulatory Update

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 6/11/19 4:46 PM

Massachusetts Proposes New PFAS Regulations as States Tackle Contamination

By: Jeffrey Karp, Victor Baltera, Aaron Staudinger, and Maxwell Unterhalter

As in previous postings, we discuss recent state regulatory initiatives aimed at addressing groundwater and drinking water contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ("PFAS"). PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been used widely in consumer and industrial products since the 1940s. Major applications have included coatings for paper and cardboard packaging products, carpets, textiles with water and oil repellency, non-stick surfaces, and firefighting foams. Due to their chemical structure, PFAS stay in the environment for a long time and do not degrade easily. PFAS have been detected in air, surface water, groundwater, drinking water, and soil.[1] They even have been found in grocery store items, such as meat, fish, dairy, and prepared chocolate-cake.[2] The widespread use and persistence of PFAS in the environment, together with growing evidence that low-level exposure may lead to adverse health effects, has increased concerns about safe levels of human exposure to PFAS.[3] In response, many more state and, to a lesser extent, federal initiatives have been undertaken to regulate PFAS. As discussed below, recently the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (the "MassDEP") has proposed to regulate PFAS within the framework of the Commonwealth’s Massachusetts Contingency Plan.

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Topics: Water, Environmental Law, PFAS

PFAS Regulation Update

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 3/6/19 10:13 AM

EPA Steps into the Mix While States Continue Swift Action in Light of Potential Health Risks

By: Jeffrey Karp and Kevin Fink

In a prior posting, we noted the proliferation of state legislative and regulatory activity involving Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of man-made chemicals used for over 70 years in a variety of products, such as nonstick cookware, firefighting foam, waterproofing and stain-resistant coatings, and in industrial manufacturing. Measured concentrations of legacy PFAS chemicals are stable and do not degrade very rapidly in the environment. PFAS like perfluorooctanoic acid ("PFOA") and perfluorooctane sulfonate ("PFOS") in groundwater and drinking water sources have been associated as possible links to negative impacts on human health, including decreased fertility rates, increased risk of certain cancers and impaired immune system function.

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Topics: EPA, PFAS, Hazardous Substances

Legislative Update: House of Representatives Introduces Bill to Require EPA to Regulate PFAS as Hazardous Substances under CERCLA

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 1/16/19 1:37 PM

By Jeffrey Karp and Kevin Fink

In a recent article posted by Manufacturing Today, we discussed the unexpected risks facing manufacturers of products containing Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a class of more than 3,000 man-made chemicals that are receiving heightened public awareness due to concerns about their potential negative impact on human health and the environment.

In addition to the commencement of litigation and the promulgation of PFAS regulations in a number of states, two bills were introduced in the Senate during the last session of Congress that: (1) sought to “encourage” Federal - State cooperative agreements to address removal and remedial actions; and (2) to require the United States Geological Survey (“USGS”) to perform a nationwide survey of the extent of these ubiquitous contaminants.[1] 

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Topics: EPA, PFAS, CERCLA, Hazardous Substances

FERC Continues to Forge Its Own Path in Considering Climate Impacts in Pipeline Applications

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 1/14/19 5:18 PM

By Jeffrey Karp and Kevin Fink

Among other responsibilities, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC" or "the Commission") approves and issues construction certificates for interstate gas pipelines and related infrastructure under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act ("NGA"). Section 7(c) of the NGA requires that any person seeking to construct or operate a facility for the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce must obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity from FERC. FERC’s 1999 Statement of Policy - Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Facilities - outlines the evaluation standard for issuing a certificate of public convenience and necessity. Once a certificate application is filed, the gating question is whether the project can go forward without subsidization by the pipeline’s existing customers. If that threshold requirement is met, FERC determines whether the applicant has sought to eliminate or minimize adverse effects on existing customers, existing pipelines in the market and their customers or landowners and communities affected by the route of the new pipeline. If the proposed project has no adverse effects, the Commission proceeds to a preliminary determination or a final order. However, if there are residual adverse effects - after efforts have been made to minimize them - FERC balances the evidence of public benefits achieved against the residual adverse effects in a economic test, and then proceeds to environmental and other reviews if the benefits outweigh the adverse effects.

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Topics: FERC, National Environmental Policy Act, Natural Gas Act

The Role of Renewable Energy Remains Uncertain in Transforming Puerto Rico's Electrical Grid

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 11/30/18 12:36 PM

By Jeffrey Karp and Kevin Fink

Over a year has elapsed since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, which, in addition to claiming thousands of lives, destroyed Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure. As discussed in prior postings, a number of factors have contributed to the delay in restoring and upgrading the electrical grid, including contract mismanagement by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority ("PREPA") and the lack of a consensus approach regarding the energy mix to be deployed on the Island.

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Topics: Renewable Energy, Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria

Symposium Spotlights Natural Resource Damage Regulations Under DOI Review

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 10/9/18 10:00 AM

By Jeffrey Karp and Kevin Fink

Section 301(c) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) authorizes the Federal government, States and federally recognized Indian Tribes to act as "trustees" on behalf of the public to pursue claims to redress injury or destruction of natural resources caused by hazardous substance releases. The measure of damages is calculated based upon the cost to restore or replace the injured or destroyed natural resources. Trustees also may recover compensation for services the resources would have provided the public pending restoration, as well as the reasonable cost of assessing injury and determining appropriate restoration.

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Topics: Environmental Policy, Environmental Law

Grid–Scale Energy Storage: Stakeholder Participation Key to Successful Implementation of FERC Order 841

Posted by Jeffrey Karp on 8/8/18 5:11 PM

In recent posts, we have discussed how Order 841 issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) on February 15, 2018 is expected to create new opportunities for the expansion of grid-scale (“in front of the meter”) energy storage. Order 841 is intended to encourage deployment of energy storage by addressing participation of energy storage resources in wholesale electricity markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”).  

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Topics: Energy Storage, FERC, Order 841

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About the Blog


The Environment & Energy Insights blog analyzes developments in the law, as well as provides updates and perspectives on trends and polices.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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