On May 12, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a package of regulatory actions aimed at limiting emissions of methane and other pollutants from sources in the oil and gas sector.  The actions—three final rules and a draft information collection request (ICR)—are the latest taken under a comprehensive methane strategy for the sector released by the White House in 2015.  The White House’s goal is to reduce methane emissions from the sector by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.   As explained below, the May 12 package mostly targets new and modified sources in the oil and gas sector.  However, the draft ICR represents an initial step toward issuing rules for existing sources in the sector, consistent with a March 2016 joint... READ MORE
On November 16, 2012, a welding accident and explosion on the West Delta Block 32 Platform E—located eight nautical miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico—resulted in the deaths of three workers and multiple other injuries and environmental consequences.  Following the incident, the United States brought criminal charges against two groups of defendants – the owner/operator of the platform and a group of “Contractor-Defendants,” which included the engineering firm hired by the owner/operator to design the construction project that resulted in the accident and the construction crews hired by the owner/operator to conduct the work. On April 14, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana dismissed the... READ MORE
On April 14, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) announced the release of BSEE’s final Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control rule (Final Rule).  The Final Rule, a comprehensive regulation that mandates more stringent design requirements and operational procedures for critical well control equipment used in oil and gas operations on the U.S. outer Continental Shelf (OCS), has been hotly contested since BSEE released a proposed version of the rule in April 2015.  While BSEE has tempered some of the most controversial provisions of the proposed rule, implementation of elements of the Final Rule still could significantly impact domestic offshore oil and gas operations by creating... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman's Malcolm McLellan will be providing a national update on North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) standards and enforcement trends in a section entitled, "The RPS and Reliability." Click here for more information. READ MORE
Join Justin Moeller, partner in Van Ness Feldman's electric practice, for an educational talk about the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) at the 20th annual Mid-C Seminar.  This year's theme for the Mid-C Seminar will be "The New World" covering the changing landscape on regulatory issues, RECs, physical trading, and will explore the operational challenges of the changing resource mix and behind the meter generation and potential solutions including smart grid. For more information and to register, please visit the Mid-C Seminar website.   READ MORE
Washington, DC – The Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) has named Former Congressman Norm Dicks (D-WA) as the inaugural recipient of NWPPA’s “Homer T. Bone Award” for 2016.  The award, named after Senator Homer T. Bone, in honor of his work on behalf of public power, is presented to a state or federal legislator serving and representing constituents in the NWPPA service territory who has demonstrated sustained and remarkable work on behalf of the industry. For over four decades, Mr. Dicks has worked tirelessly on issues affecting public power in the Pacific Northwest both as a staffer to former U.S. Senator Warren Magnuson (D-WA) and as a Congressman representing Washington’s 6th Congressional District fighting for the interests of the... READ MORE
Current Van Ness Feldman Senior Policy Advisor and former Senator Mary Landrieu, recently sat down with Politico to discuss life after the Senate.  Below is the full text of the interview.   PoliticoPro Q&A: Mary Landrieu By Elana Schor  Over the course of three terms in the Senate, Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu became synonymous with the type of "all of the above" energy policymaking that draws barbs from fossil-fuel companies and environmentalists in almost equal measure. She rose to the chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a hard-fought reelection run in 2014, but ultimately lost her seat to Bill Cassidy (R-La.). POLITICO's Elana Schor spoke to Landrieu, 60, at her post-Congress home base in Washington, the... READ MORE
On March 25th, the Department of Energy announced that it will participate in Clean Line Energy’s Plains and Eastern Transmission Project, a public/private project that will deliver 4,000+ MW of wind energy from the Oklahoma Panhandle into load centers in Arkansas, Tennessee, and beyond.  In addition to the delivery of 4,000 MW of wind energy to meet the increasing demand for renewable energy supplies, the project will be the first multi-state, high voltage direct current transmission project connecting large scale renewable resources in the mid and southwest to eastern and southeastern load centers. The $2.5 billion project—100% funded by private investment—will support thousands of jobs in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Van Ness Feldman... READ MORE
FERC NOPR to Approve Disturbance Control Standard - May 19 - FERC proposes to approve Reliability Standard BAL-002-2 (Disturbance Control Standard—Contingency Reserve for Recovery from a Balancing Contingency Event). Proposed Reliability Standard BAL-002-2 is designed to ensure that applicable entities balance resources and demand and return their Area Control Error to defined values following a Reportable Balancing Contingency Event. In addition, the NOPR proposes to require NERC to modify Reliability Standard BAL-002-2 to address concerns related to the possible extension or delay of the periods for Area Control Error recovery and contingency reserve restoration. The NOPR also proposes to direct NERC to address a reliability gap regarding... READ MORE
House Energy and Commerce Committee Reports Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Bill. On April 27, the House Energy and Commerce Committee reported H.R. 5050, the Pipeline Safety Act of 2016, reauthorizing appropriations for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) pipeline safety programs through FY 2021. Similar to H.R. 4937, reported by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on April 20, this bill would authorize PHMSA to issue industry-wide emergency orders to address “imminent hazards,” require that PHMSA establish minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities, and provide periodic status updates to Congress on outstanding statutory mandates.  The bill would not require that... READ MORE
FERC FERC Accepts CMEP Rules of Procedure Revisions - May 4 -FERC issued a letter order accepting NERC’s revisions to its Rules of Procedure related to components of the risk-based Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program. FERC Approves Revised Vegetation Management Standard - April 23 - NERC's uncontested petition for Commission approval of proposed Reliability Standard FAC-003-4 was approved by the Commission in a Letter Order. The approved standard revises the Minimum Vegetation Clearance Distances (MVCDs) based on additional testing regarding the appropriate gap factor to be used to calculate clearance distances for vegetation. Specifically, FAC-003-4 adjusts the the gap factor used to calculate MVCDs from 1.3 to 1.0 which will ultimately... READ MORE