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Paul Freeman is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s New York office and a member of the firm’s Environment & Natural Resources and Government Contracts groups. He brings two decades of diverse experience advising clients in the energy, maritime, and aerospace and defense industries on a range of issues, with a primary emphasis on matters involving enforcement defense, litigation, and risk management.

Paul routinely advises clients in response to investigations by, or inquiries from, a range of regulators, primarily the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and also including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and state attorneys general.

During the month of April, the Biden administration has continued to leverage federal procurement in pursuit of ambitious environmental sustainability policy goals.  The most recent round of new regulations and initiatives finds the administration seeking to strengthen purchasing mandates of sustainable goods and services, as well as laying the groundwork for significant restrictions on the federal procurement of products containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Continue Reading Sustainable Procurement Update: Spring 2024

A wave of recent changes in federal and state law pertaining to PFAS chemicals is likely to present both immediate and long-term challenges to the government contracting community. At the federal level, contractors that import products, parts, packaging, equipment or other articles with components that contain PFAS must confront new and extensive regulatory reporting requirements relating to such imports going back to 2011, and they must do so by May 2025. At the state level, a growing list of states are enacting total bans on the sale and distribution of such products and components. On top of this flurry of environmental regulatory activity, the Biden Administration continues to direct federal agencies to develop procurement strategies that prioritize the purchase of PFAS-free articles as part the Administration’s broader effort to leverage the federal procurement function in pursuit of climate and sustainability policy objectives.Continue Reading New Federal and State PFAS Requirements Pose Unique Challenges to the Government Contracting Community

Front of mind for many federal contractors is the proposed FAR rule that would make federal contract awards contingent upon meeting mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions requirements. But a provision in the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 scales back the reach of that potential rule on Department of Defense (DoD) contracts.Continue Reading FY 2024 NDAA Pumps the Brakes on Mandatory GHG Emissions Disclosure Requirements for DoD Contracts

On September 21, 2023, the White House directed federal agencies to incorporate interim Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (SC-GHG) estimates into a wide range of federal agency actions, including each agency’s procurement function.  This most recent direction builds upon the Administration’s ongoing and wide-reaching effort (examples discussed here and here) to leverage federal procurement spending in pursuit of climate change and sustainability policy objectives.  The hallmark of that effort to date had been a proposed rule that would, if finalized, require thousands of federal contractors to inventory, publicly disclose, and, in some cases, seek reductions in GHG emissions (see our prior discussion here).  However, the White House’s incorporation of SC-GHG into the federal procurement process has the potential to be just as significant to the contracting community by providing a cost metric (in dollars) needed for contracting agencies to evaluate and confer a preference on bids and contractors with lower GHG emission profiles.Continue Reading Biden Administration Moves Closer to Establishing Framework for Giving Preference to Bids and Contractors with Lower GHG Emissions

On March 8, 2023, the Biden Administration announced a further opportunity for companies to take advantage of significant federal funding intended to promote clean manufacturing and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in federal procurement.  In line with the Biden Administration’s push to implement a clean energy economy (as we have previously covered, for example, here and 

On December 23, 2022, the Department of Defense (“DoD”), General Services Administration (“GSA”), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”) extended the comment period on the proposed rule, “Disclosure of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate-Related Financial Risk,” from January 13, 2023 to February 13, 2023.  As we summarized previously, the proposed rule would, if

In a major and largely unprecedented development for federal contractors, the White House announced on November 10, 2022 that the FAR Council will publish early next week a proposed rule that would, if finalized, require many federal contractors receiving more than $7.5 million in annual federal contracts to inventory and publicly disclose Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on an annual basis.  Contractors deemed “major”—those that receive annual federal contracts in excess of $50 million—would be further required to disclose annually their Scope 3 GHG emissions and climate-related financial risk assessment process.  Beyond disclosures, and perhaps more significantly, major contractors would also be required to set emission-reduction targets to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and have those targets validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). This last element of the proposal is a notable departure—and escalation—from similar pending proposals from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which only propose to require GHG disclosures from regulated companies and funds, not substantive goals or changes. Continue Reading Your Climate Disclosures or Your Contracts? Federal Contractors Face Unprecedented Proposed Rule for Mandatory Climate Disclosures

On October 4, 2022, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) published a Request for Information (“RFI”), seeking information “about the availability of domestically manufactured, locally sourced low-carbon construction materials” for governmentwide construction procurement.  Significantly, the results of the RFI are expected to help inform how the GSA will spend the $2.15 billion appropriated through Section 60503

On August 31, 2022, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) released instructions to federal agencies for implementing Executive Order (“EO”) 14057 Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability.  As we have covered previously, EO 14057 identified ambitious sustainability goals for federal agencies, including:

  • 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030;
  • 100 percent zero-emission vehicle fleet by 2035;
  • net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045;
  • 65 percent reduction in Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) Scope 1 and 2 emissions from Federal operations; and
  • net-zero emissions from federal procurement, including a “Buy Clean” policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions.

Continue Reading Further Federal Action on Government-Wide Sustainability Goals

On July 7, 2022, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) seeking public comment on revising GSA policies and procedures to reduce single-use plastics in purchased products and their packing and shipping materials.  GSA is acting in furtherance of the directives set forth in Executive Order 14057, Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability (discussed here), which, among other things, directed GSA to use federal procurement policy as a way to support a recycled content market.  Thus, for purchases under the Federal Supply Schedule program, as well as GSA’s construction, concession, and facility maintenance contracts, GSA seeks to reduce reliance on single-use plastics and move toward what the Administration considers to be “environmentally preferable” materials. Continue Reading GSA Exploring New Regulations to Reduce Single-Use Plastic in Federal Procurement