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As we approach the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states and cities around the country have proposed safety measures for construction projects during the pandemic. These guidelines range from a single page of suggestions to multipage requirements handed down by state public health officers. In “DC Real Estate and Construction Committee Issues Recommendations as DC Prepares for Phased Reopening,John Chamberlain discusses the ways that the District of Columbia has taken to implement a community-driven, “one size does not fit all” approach to establishing recommendations for reopening.

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The Fifth Circuit released three new decisions last Friday.

On May 29, 2020. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit released three opinions in environmental cases: Stratta, et al. v. Roe, Director of the Brazos Valley Groundwater District; Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. EPA; and American Stewards of Liberty, et al,. v. U.S. Department of the Interior.

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From mask-wearing to physical separation to staggered schedules and crowding-related transit incentives, implementing the new CDC guidelines may reshape office life. In “Updated CDC Guidelines Impact Business Districts, Office Buildings and Their Tenants, and Users,” colleagues Caroline A. HarcourtShani RivauxJacob A. Axelrod and Amanda G. Halter outline how these guidelines contemplate a cooperative relationship between building owners and their employer tenants.

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On May 26, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided three significant environmental law cases. Two of these cases involved whether global warming tort cases could be brought in California state courts on, for example, a public nuisance claim, and whether the defendant energy companies had the right to have them removed to the federal courts. Continue reading

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Until COVID-19 officially took hold in the U.S. in March of 2020, the U.S. real estate market was active, even robust. Starting in March, however, the possible scope of the pandemic and the sudden imposition of stay-at-home orders resulted in deal volume falling precipitously—with sales, leasing and lending transactions being put on temporary “wait and see” pause or terminated altogether.

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The IRS issues anticipated guidance providing relief to developers facing delays related to COVID-19. In the recent alert, “IRS Extends Continuity Safe Harbor for Renewable Energy Projects,” colleague Jorge Medina, discusses how the guidance also provides some clarity on the impact of supply chain disruptions on equipment orders placed later in 2019, primarily associated with solar and fuel cell companies, by addressing the application of the “3½ month rule” in light of COVID-19 and providing a new safe harbor.

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Pillsbury continues to track the impact on construction projects of COVID-19-related orders and guidance from CISA and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We are updating our chart weekly. Click here for the latest COVID-19 Construction Chart.

May 27 update As we pivot toward less shelter in place orders and more reopening orders, more and more states are also issuing guidance for implementing safety measures on construction projects. Pillsbury modified its chart to include a column describing any state-issued guidance and some guidance from large cities. As described in our client alert Safety Measures for Construction Projects During the COVID-19 Pandemic, construction sites will be very different under the “new normal.”

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Here are a few interesting new rulings from the federal appellate courts.

COURT ORDERS

Like a Good Neighbor …? — State of Maryland v. EPA
On May 19, 2020, the D.C. Circuit decided a Clean Air Act case involving the use of the “Good Neighbor Provision” of the Act, which is triggered when one state has a complaint about emissions generated in a neighboring upwind state that settle in the downwind state. Here, Maryland and Delaware filed petitions with EPA seeking relief from the impact of emissions from coal-fired power plants that allegedly affect their states’ air quality. EPA largely denied relief, and the court largely upheld the agency’s use and interpretation of the Good Neighbor Provision. The opinion is valuable because of its clear exposition of this complicated policy.

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Over the past few months, construction projects in most states have carried on because construction was deemed essential and projects were exempted from government orders that closed businesses. In the jurisdictions that halted construction operations, state and local authorities are now easing those restrictions and allowing construction to resume. In “Safety Measures for Construction Projects During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” colleagues Laura Bourgeois LoBue and Jose L. Lua-Valencia discuss just how different construction sites will be than they were a few months ago under this new normal.

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A recent court order issued as part of an ongoing litigation involving a Manhattan hotel held that a mezzanine lender may proceed with a UCC foreclosure sale of the mezzanine loan collateral despite N.Y.E.O. 202.8, which prevents creditors from initiating judicial foreclosures. In “Distressed Real Estate During COVID-19: New York State Court Order Finds UCC Foreclosures Are Not Suspended by New York E.O. 202.8.,” colleagues Robert J. GradosCaroline A. Harcourt and Jacob A. Axelrod addresses the court’s denial of injunctive relief to the UCC foreclosure and determination that damages were an adequate remedy may have significant effects even after the COVID-19 pandemic, and also to mezzanine borrowers considering their defenses to UCC foreclosure proceedings.

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