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Industry_Podcast_cover-update-final-bottom-300x169In episode 18 of Industry Insights podcast, host Joel Simon and Elina Teplinsky discuss the financial community’s response to the energy transition including the focus on novel technologies such as clean hydrogen, advanced nuclear reactors and carbon capture and storage.

Joel Simon: With climate change and sustainability dominating the environmental landscape, there has been a lot of press in the last year or two about the energy transition. What exactly is the energy transition, and why is it so important? Continue reading

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Industry_Podcast_cover-update-final-bottom-300x169In episode 17 of Industry Insights podcast, host Joel Simon and Christian Salaman discussed the changes the hotel and hospitality industry are undergoing.

Joel Simon: Christian, you have a really great practice with an emphasis on two industries, one of which seems relatively insulated by the unusual circumstances we’re facing today and the other which has been rocked pretty hard. It’s the second one I’d like to focus on today. Can you start us off with a brief discussion of the status of the hotel business and what a recovery might look like for that sector?

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With the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to be felt by the American public, the Trump Administration has taken steps to try to allay a coming eviction crisis by enacting a moratorium on evictions through the end of 2020. With the first eviction moratorium instituted by the CARES Act expiring, lawmakers have been pushing to include eviction protections in the next COVID-19 relief package. However, with Congressional leaders still far from an agreement on the next bill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now used its emergency pandemic powers under the Public Health Service Act to temporarily halt residential evictions.

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As the end of summer approaches, the courts have provided a potpourri of relevant environmental decisions.

FEDERAL COURTS OF APPEAL

Town of Weymouth, et al. v. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP)
On August 31, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued an opinion revising the mandate of its earlier June 3, 2020, ruling in the case. In the earlier ruling, the court vacated the grant by the MDEP of an air permit to Algonquin Gas Transmission to build and operate an air compressor station, ordering the agency to “redo” its Best Available Control Technology analysis within 75 days. Algonquin asked the court to reverse without vacatur because the agency could not comply within the time limits established by the court. The First Circuit agreed, and established a new deadline for the agency of January 19, 2021.

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The past few months saw, and continue to see, significant disruptions to the real estate market and the real estate finance market in particular. According to Trepp LLC, June saw the delinquency rate for commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) loans hit 10.32 percent, which is just shy of the peak delinquency rate for CMBS loans in 2012 (or a full four years following the 2007 – 2008 recession). That we could have nearly reached the 2012 peak so quickly—given the last time lag between a recession and peak delinquencies—has caused some investors to worry that much worse is yet to come. These numbers also cause certain investors to question whether CMBS disclosures may have been overly optimistic or failed to properly disclose risks. At the same time, regulated mortgage lenders, which must project losses, are assuming losses at approximately two percent on average.

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The last few weeks have yielded a number of interesting developments in the Federal courts.

FEDERAL COURTS OF APPEAL

In re Flint Water Cases
Several local and State of Michigan officials, including the former governor, requested dismissal from the civil litigation seeking damages for the massive failure of Flint, Michigan’s public drinking water system. On August 5, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed that the plaintiffs, residents of Flint, have successfully pled a case that the conduct of the defendants so “shocked the conscience” that a claim for a violation of their substantive due process rights was appropriately alleged. The defendants, including the former governor, argued that they were entitled to a qualified immunity defense. The court rejected this argument on the basis of the earlier decisions made by the court in this matter. Judge Sutton concurred because he was bound by this precedent, but remarked that the evidence for the governor’s culpability was very thin; he was not intimately connected to the extraordinary error in judgment. The majority was very upset with this concurrence as indicted by their own opinion.

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A recent court decision in New York found that current market conditions in the real estate market justify delaying noticing mezzanine real estate foreclosures until October 15, 2020. In “Distressed Real Estate During COVID-19: Court Finds UCC Foreclosure “Commercially Unreasonable” Because of Coronavirus-Related Market Turmoil“, colleagues Caroline A. HarcourtPatrick E. FitzmauriceRussell DaSilva and Jacob A. Axelrod discuss a recent New York Supreme Court Order.

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Some very interesting and fairly complex environmental law rulings have been released in the past few days.

U.S. Supreme Court—Trump, et al. v. Sierra Club, et al.

On July 31, 2020, in a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court denied a motion to lift the stay entered by the Court a few days earlier. The earlier action stayed a preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which had enjoined the construction of a wall along the Southern Border of the United States which was to be constructed with redirected Department of Defense funds. The merits will be addressed by the lower court and perhaps the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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GettyImages-200275481-001-dining-liability-298x300As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the U.S. economy, restaurateurs and bar owners are feeling the brunt of business closures and adaptations necessary to combat the disease. Where cozy and intimate dining was once de rigueur for the restaurant industry, these businesses must now shift to outdoor dining with adequate space and airflow between parties. In response to these concerns, many cities across the country who once fought against the loss of any parking have turned to a post-automobile tactic: outdoor dining in thoroughfares and parking lots. While at first glance it might seem a simple enough prospect—throw some chairs and a table out front, and voilà—property owners and restaurateurs must remain cognizant of various liability and regulatory hurdles for operating outside.

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District of Columbia enacts legislation to provide up to $100 million in grants to eligible businesses for up to 15% of revenue lost due to COVID-19 during the quarter ending June 2020. Landlords can receive grants to partially support their help to eligible tenant businesses. In “District of Columbia Enacts $100 Million Grant Program for Businesses Hurt by COVID-19,” colleagues David L. Miller and Zachary D. Bailey discuss the new legislation.

 

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