The energy sector comprises all of the industries that produce and sell energy, from the petroleum, coal and natural gas industries to the nuclear power and renewable energy industries. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, energy consumption in the United States totaled 98.3 quadrillion Btu in 2014 with petroleum energy sources representing the highest consumption at 35%, followed by natural gas (28%), coal (18%), renewable energy (10%) and nuclear electric power (8%).
Energy sources are generally broken down into two categories: renewable and non-renewable. Renewable energy sources are energy sources that can be easily replenished, including solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy and hydropower. Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are non-renewable energy sources.
Increasing demands and utilization of energy sources have created serious issues for society, from air pollution, groundwater contamination and deforestation to global warming. In an effort to combat these problems, countries around the globe are exploring and adopting ways to effectively manage their energy resources. Many of these governments are focusing their efforts on energy-conservation as well as the reduction of pollutants, greenhouse gases and oil and gas spills.
Environmental Laws and Regulations Impacting the Energy Sector
The energy sector is one of the most highly regulated industries. The government has been placing increasing pressure upon the energy sector to be more environmentally responsible and work towards developing green energy solutions. As a result, companies operating directly and indirectly in the sector are subject to an expansive range of environmental rules and regulations. In the United States, federal and state agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and many other governmental bodies share responsibility for regulating the industry.
Environmental issues impact all aspects of energy sector operations, from project planning, financing and development to construction and operations. Companies in the sector must carefully address permitting and compliance issues as well as a vast array of federal, state and local requirements pertaining to land use, wetlands, sediment and erosion control and other environmental matters. Energy companies must meet strict requirements under CERCLA, CEQA, NEPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other federal and state environmental programs.
Addressing Complex Environmental Issues
The attorneys at Bick Law offer a wealth of experience to our clients operating in the energy sector. We focus on helping energy clients address complex environmental issues while improving their business processes and operations.
Our lawyers regularly track and monitor evolving regulation of the industry. We carefully analyze changes in the law so that we can advise our clients on how to best structure business projects and activities. Cognizant of the complex environmental challenges facing our clients, we work closely with them to identify and avoid potential legal problems. Our work includes helping energy sector clients secure the permits, approvals and licenses required to run their operations and providing assistance in connection with the preparation of environmental impact statements. Our California environmental regulatory lawyers also counsel clients through all phases of agency investigations and offer aggressive representation in government enforcement actions at the state and federal levels.