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November 16, 2020

Biden Could Revive Enforcement Tool, With New Focus on Climate

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Biden Could Revive Enforcement Tool, With New Focus on Climate

A memo from the Climate 21 Project—an initiative from more than 150 former officials identifying levers for climate action across the U.S. government—recommends the Justice Department reinstate supplemental environmental projects, or SEPs, a popular settlement option the Trump administration nixed in March, reports Bloomberg Law.

The department could then “amplify the administration’s climate agenda by prioritizing cases with a climate nexus and negotiating supplemental climate projects in settlements,” the report says. Some outside lawyers have endorsed the recommendation.

The move, if embraced by Biden administration officials, would both reinvigorate a longstanding approach for addressing alleged environmental violations, and encourage government lawyers to seek more creative deals that reduce greenhouse gases.

“Making use of the SEPs to invest in those kinds of projects would meet the spirit of SEPs, and could really be done with this focus on climate change,” said the study’s lead author Kate Konschnik, director of the Climate & Energy Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.