On June 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers (“Agencies”) unveiled a proposed rule that would rescind the definition of the term “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), commonly referred to as the “WOTUS Rule.”  The WOTUS Rule, which defines the scope of federal jurisdiction under the CWA, was adopted by the Agencies under the Obama Administration in a 2015 rule titled “Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’” (80 Fed. Reg. 27054, June 29, 2015).   As explained in previous alerts circulated in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the “WOTUS” rule has far-reaching implications for project developers across the energy, water, agricultural, construction, and... READ MORE
On July 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit” or “court”) issued a decision in NRG Power Marketing, LLC v. FERC (“NRG decision”), finding that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) exceeded its authority under Section 205 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) when it directed certain revisions to the PJM Interconnection LLC (“PJM”) capacity market buyer mitigation rules.  The decision’s legal analysis highlights limitations on FERC’s ability to direct changes on compliance to proposed rates submitted by a utility or market operator.  From a practical standpoint, the decision vacating and remanding significant components of FERC’s underlying orders creates significant uncertainty... READ MORE
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently issued orders in two similar proceedings in which interstate natural gas pipelines asked the court to order state or local agencies to act on the pipelines’ applications for permits required under federal environmental statutes.  Jointly, these orders help provide paths to pipeline project developers when state and local agencies delay acting on requests for permits needed for pipeline construction and operation.  Both pipelines brought claims under a provision of the Natural Gas Act (the statute under which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) oversees interstate natural gas pipeline projects), which allows pipeline applicants to seek review before the D.C... READ MORE
Several Van Ness Feldman attorneys will be presenting at this year's HydroVision International conference in Denver, CO on June 27-30, 2017.  Mike Swiger and Chuck Sensiba will be participating on a panel discussing FAST, WRDA, HREA and other regulatory developments that will affect hydro licensing. Julia Wood will be speaking on new approaches to mitigation in the United States and  Maranda Compton, member of our Native Affairs practice, will be speaking on building relationships with Tribes/First Nations to improve water management.  As the largest gathering of hydro professionals worldwide, HydroVision features 3000+ attendees and 320+ exhibiting companies from around the world for a week of informative hydropower-focused meetings, workshops... READ MORE
The 21st Annual Mid-C Seminar will cover a wide range of topics including the changing landscape in EIM, regulatory issues, REC's, physical trading, smart grid, and operational issues of changing resources. Van Ness Feldman's Malcolm McLellan will be giving a presentation entitled, "Transmission in the West Update." Van Ness Feldman is a proud sponsor of this year's seminar. Click here for more information and to register. READ MORE
“Development of Washington’s shorelines triggers overlapping and sometimes inconsistent local, state and federal regulations, as well as tribal treaty rights. Proponents of small private projects as well as large public facility projects in shoreline environments can be affected equally by these layers of regulation. Meanwhile, regulators and treaty tribes are tasked with balancing the many legitimate uses of the state’s shorelines and their abundant natural resources." Van Ness Feldman's Tadas Kisielius is speaking on, "Recent Developments in Port Management." Click here for more information. READ MORE
For the sixth year in a row, The Legal 500 United States, 2017, recognized Van Ness Feldman as a national leader in Energy Regulatory law. READ MORE
What does the Trump regulatory reform agenda mean for energy companies?  In an article co-authored with Sarah Ladislaw of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Van Ness Feldman partner Kyle Danish explains how companies are finding that the reform process is not quick or straightforward. Companies are coming to the realization that they will need to play the long game, and actively manage associated reputational and political risks. Read the full article, Playing the Long Game on Energy: Avoiding Pendulum Politics and Regulatory Risk. READ MORE
Washington, D.C. and Seattle – Van Ness Feldman received high praise in the newly released Chambers USA 2017 rankings, including national rankings for the firm’s major practice areas, including Electricity, Oil & Gas, Government Relations, Environmental, Native American, Transportation, Real Estate, and Land Use and Zoning practices.  Chambers USA similarly distinguished 17 Van Ness Feldman attorneys as “Leaders in Their Field.” Chambers & Partners is recognized as the legal industry’s preeminent guide to the legal profession and has built a reputation for in-depth, objective research.  Chambers conducts thousands of interviews with lawyers and their clients worldwide to identify and rank the world’s best lawyers according to the criteria most... READ MORE
PHMSA Extends Deadline for Submitting 2016 Annual Reports for Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities On July 14, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced an extension of the deadline for operators of underground natural gas storage facilities to submit annual reports for calendar year 2016.  PHMSA established the reporting requirement in its interim final rule adopting safety regulations for such storage facilities, and required that the first annual report be submitted July 18, 2017.  PHMSA is extending the deadline because the Office of Management and Budget has not approved PHMSA’s request to collect the information from storage operators.  PHMSA will establish a new filing date after OMB approves PHMSA’s... READ MORE
FERC FERC and NERC Issue Review of Compliance Programs - June 27 - FERC coordinated with NERC staff to conduct the annual oversight of the Find, Fix, Track, and Report (FFT) program.  FERC staff reviewed 23 out of 46 FFT possible violations, as well as 100 out of 470 Compliance Exception (CE) instances of noncompliance posted by NERC between October 2015 and September 2016.  FERC staff concluded that the FFT and CE programs are meeting expectations and that all possible violations have been remediated. Materials from June 22 Technical Conference Now Available - June 23 - As follow up from the Reliability Technical Conference that took place at FERC on Thursday, June 22, the conference’s final agenda and speaker presentation materials have been... READ MORE
Lack of FERC Quorum Continues The lack of a three-commissioner quorum at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) continues as of the date of this publication.  FERC is composed of up to five commissioners, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.  No more than three FERC commissioners may be from the same political party.  FERC has lacked a quorum since the resignation of Chairman Norman Bay on February 3, 2017, which left FERC with only two commissioners: Cheryl LaFleur, whom President Trump named as acting chairman; and Commissioner Colette Honorable.  Both Acting Chairman LaFleur and Commissioner Honorable are Democrats.  Commissioner Honorable announced this week that she will depart the... READ MORE