Global climate change is one of the most significant new challenges of our time. The national and international debate over the issue is rapidly shifting from questions of whether and why global climate change is occurring to how we respond to it as a nation and as a community of nations. The issues raised in this debate touch nearly every sector of the economy, raising complex new legal and policy issues that businesses of all sizes in nearly all industries must confront in one form or another.
With Energy and Insurance as two of our core practice areas, Locke Lord is uniquely positioned to tackle the issues that global climate change raises for the industries most directly affected by new and proposed climate change legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and most susceptible to the economic impacts of climate change-related events. But that is only the beginning. Our nationally recognized government relations, environmental, litigation, corporate, real estate, intellectual property and technology practices all confront the myriad issues raised by global climate change in different capacities. Drawing upon our wealth of experience in these areas, Locke Lord has assembled a multidisciplinary team of attorneys to guide our clients in confronting and successfully managing these issues. Our multidisciplinary approach to climate change issues and our exceptional depth in the relevant fields enables us not just to deal with the obvious issues and resolve existing problems, but to identify unforeseen issues, and help our clients turn unexpected challenges into new opportunities that lead to a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Energy and Carbon Markets
The regulatory emphasis of the growing focus on climate change falls most directly on the energy industry. As traditional power sources such as coal and natural gas generate greenhouse gas emissions, the emphasis on investment in and development of nuclear power and alternative energy technologies is rapidly increasing. Locke Lord attorneys have extensive experience in the fields of alternative energy and energy trading. In the alternative energy arena, we routinely advise clients in the development and financing of wind farms and a wide variety of renewable energy projects that are an essential part of the national strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have represented the developer or lenders in the construction of more than half of the installed wind generation in Texas, as well as projects in Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, and elsewhere. We also have experience in the development of nuclear plants, representing a joint venturer in the expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear plant. Finally, our alternative energy portfolio also includes alternative fuels, including representation of the developer, lenders or investors in numerous ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuel projects in Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Indiana and Nebraska.
Another strength of our diverse energy practice is our experience in energy trading and markets. We represent many of the increasing number of investment banks and financial institutions involved in trading markets, and have extensive experience advising clients not only in developing and negotiating structured energy trades and physically settled agreements, but also in understanding the impact of the physical markets on financial contracts. We leverage this experience and our national footprint to advise clients on the emerging carbon markets, including the newly implemented Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and its evolving regional counterparts such as the Western Climate Initiative and the Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. We also have counseled entrepreneurs on the development of Certified Emissions Reductions under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism and the development and purchase of verified emissions offsets in the voluntary domestic markets.
Perhaps no other industry is as directly affected by real world impacts of climate change as the insurance industry. As the frequency and intensity of major storms, flooding, and other severe weather events increases in a trend that is widely attributed, at least in part, to the effects of global warming, insurers and reinsurers are hit hard by the resulting claims. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has formed the Climate Change and Global Warming (EX) Task Force to study the potential impact of climate change on insurance regulation, and to develop proposed guidelines for disclosure of climate risks by insurers.
As the industry increases its focus on climate change, Locke Lord is uniquely positioned to advise clients in the insurance realm regarding these issues. We represent clients ranging from publicly-traded, international insurers to family-owned insurance agencies, including traditional insurance business clients such as insurers, producers, premium finance companies, third-party administrators, managing general agencies, insurance guaranty funds and state insurance departments. We also represent other business entities in connection with their subsidiary insurance operations, including banks, leasing companies and retailers. Finally, we represent reinsurance clients across the United States, the United Kingdom, continental Europe and Asia. Our experience has earned us wide acclaim as the top law firm in the nation in several insurance-related practice areas, and we have been highly ranked in surveys conducted by publications such as Reactions, Global Broker & Underwriter and The Legal 500 United States - 2008 Edition. Our climate change practice extends our ability to advance our insurance industry clients to perhaps the most significant new challenge the industry has faced.
Environmental issues form the backdrop for the climate change debate, and the current environmental laws have provided the context for the most significant domestic regulatory efforts to address climate change. While a new statutory framework for regulating CO2 emissions looms on the horizon, the issue of whether the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other federal environmental statutes require greenhouse gas regulation is being pressed in the federal courts and the halls of federal regulatory agencies such as EPA and the Department of the Interior, as well as on the state level. Locke Lord’s environmental attorneys have extensive experience with these statutes and a detailed understanding of the legal theories and strategies at play. Clients regularly call upon Locke Lord environmental attorneys for their experience in energy related environmental matters. Our environmental attorneys work closely with our energy attorneys to provide comprehensive advice to our clients on a wide range of issues, including wind farm permitting and development and the environmental issues associated with alternative fuels, including landfill gas, ethanol, biodiesel, coal gasification and shale oil. In conjunction with our energy and corporate attorneys, we also advise traditional energy clients on CO2 emissions control and development of offsets through various projects including preservation, avoided deforestation, carbon capture and storage, and others.
Momentum is steadily building for the development of an entirely new federal regulatory regime to address climate change. Stakeholders have a unique opportunity to engage in the debate and influence the shape and scope of the federal response, but doing so requires the right access and the right strategy. Locke Lord Strategies® is our Washington, D.C., public affairs team of proactive and bipartisan problem solvers. Each member of our team has extensive political and public policy experience, and our unique relationships provide clients with unparalleled access at the highest level of the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch, including federal departments and regulatory agencies. Our professionals are recognized for their strategic and direct counsel, distinctive style, comprehensive tact, proactive determination, discretion, and most importantly, their ability to get the job done. Our team in Washington, D.C. is composed of seasoned and experienced practitioners who understand intimately how the legislative process works. They have significant and meaningful relationships with key Members and staff in the U.S. Congress as well as with decision makers in the Executive Branch. They work with federal regulators in Washington, D.C. and their regional representatives to ensure our clients’ interests are advanced and their voices heard. They combine substantive experience with knowledge of agency practices and personnel to help clients engage politically in complex regulatory problems such as climate change and to shape and determine federal public policy.
The federal courts are currently the front lines of the climate change debate, with claims being brought under existing federal statutes to force government regulation, or using common law theories to seek injunctions and damages from greenhouse gas emitters. Locke Lord attorneys have extensive experience in litigating climate change issues, including the defense of a class action lawsuit brought against dozens of defendant utilities seeking damages allegedly resulting from power plant emissions in the hundreds of billions of dollars. We have defended claims brought under numerous environmental statutes including the Clear Air Act, Clean Water Act, California's "Proposition 65" Failure to Warn Voter Initiative, and enforcement actions of all types brought by state and federal authorities. Locke Lord attorneys also have extensive experience in defending "toxic tort" litigation alleging harm purportedly resulting from exposure to a wide range of chemical products under a host of corresponding legal theories, many of which lend themselves to the climate change arena. The firm's attorneys are well-versed in all of the legal theories that have arisen or are likely to arise in litigation involving climate change issues, as well as the insurance aspects of these types of claims, including experience in challenging governmental and agency regulations. Our litigation attorneys' activities include serving on Bar Association committees developing reports and recommendations on global warming and climate change.
Locke Lord’s Climate Change Practice Team includes a core group of corporate and securities lawyers with diverse experience representing established and emerging companies and institutional and individual investors in acquisitions, divestitures and investments in the climate change arena and related energy sectors. Our private equity attorneys represent firms and funds in all aspects of their investments in companies in the clean energy industry and also regularly represent emerging growth, middle market and seasoned alternative energy and cleantech companies in connection with their capital raising transactions. Our corporate attorneys also represent both strategic and financial buyers and sellers in all types of public and private merger and acquisition transactions, including stock and asset acquisitions and divestitures, and counsel clients in joint ventures and other strategic transactions. Demonstrated industry experience and knowledge enables our corporate lawyers to offer cutting-edge advice and counsel on issues unique to this rapidly developing market segment, such as climate risk disclosures in securities filings and the impact of international commitments on the permitting and financing of energy and infrastructure projects, positioning our clients to capitalize on the tremendous business opportunities that climate change presents.
In a growing effort to address and curtail the effect of human activities on global climate change, various federal, state and municipal governments are enacting regulations seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions indirectly by requiring or incentivizing greater energy efficiency in new construction and development. Many states and municipalities are adopting regulations that involve limitations on energy and water consumption and/or waste output, as well as transportation efficiency. At the same time, there is a trend within the development industry itself to encourage the construction and operation of buildings and infrastructure that are sustainable and more efficient in their use of resources.
Many owners, builders and developers recognize certain financial benefits in constructing and operating sustainable buildings consistent with the rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) initiative. Certain jurisdictions, including the State of California, have enacted “green” building codes which require sustainable elements and moderate resource consumption in buildings and building systems as conditions for issuance of permits. Sustainable projects are also being voluntarily undertaken because of the significant benefits that can inure to owners, developers and tenants, in addition to the positive impact such projects have in connection with moderating climate change.
The real estate lawyers on Locke Lord’s Climate Change Practice Team are well versed in the new regulations affecting greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable building standards. We have diverse experience in connection with sustainable infrastructure projects to guide property owners, builders and developers, as well as landlords and tenants, in voluntary compliance with “green” building standards and compliance with the increasing number of regulations mandating sustainable development and resource conservation.
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