For the first time in over three decades, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has begun the process of revising its procedural regulations on federal agency implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).  Given the broad range of actions covered by NEPA—including federal permit applications, federal land management decisions, and more—plus the delay and cost frequently associated with NEPA compliance, this rulemaking process provides an important opportunity for energy infrastructure developers, utilities, federal land users, and others to help shape how federal agencies will implement NEPA in the future. READ MORE
For more than a decade, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has been in a dispute with several environmental groups and unable to reach agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”, and collectively with NMFS, the “Services”) regarding the effects of the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) on Endangered Species Act (“ESA”)-listed species and their designated critical habitat.  Environmental groups have sued FEMA in at least six states, ranging from Washington to Florida, for failing to consult with the Services pursuant to ESA Section 7(a)(2) regarding the effects of FEMA’s implementation of the NFIP on ESA-protected resources.  In 2012, FEMA agreed, as part of a... READ MORE
Under Washington State’s Non-User Statute, public rights-of-way that have never been “opened” may be subject to a “statutory vacation,” meaning the right-of-way is extinguished and the underlying land reverts to the original fee title owner. Landowners should consider whether the Non-User Statute could apply to abutting unopened public rights-of-way as they may have a claim to a portion of the underlying land if adequate facts in the historical record suggest the road was not opened during the relevant time period. Although the Non-User Statute vacates streets by operation of law, a judicial determination confirming the applicability of the statute is necessary to establish it on the record and to free the land involved from the right-of-way... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman, Beveridge & Diamond, and NAWL's Environmental & Energy Practice Area Affinity Group cordially invite you to a breakfast program: Environmental Review and Permitting Reform for Infrastructure Projects.   The program is being coordinated by a group including Andrea Hudson Campbell, partner in our environment practice, and panelists will include  Gwen Keyes Fleming, partner in our environmental practice. READ MORE
For the sixth year, Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law will host its conference on the Governance of Emerging Technologies & Science ("GETS"). GETS brings together representatives from academia, industry, and private practice to discuss regulatory, governance, legal, policy, social, and ethical aspects of emerging technologies.  On May 18, Van Ness Feldman's Scott Nuzum will sit on a panel discussing the "pacing problem" in regulation. Scott's talk, entitled, "Liberalism in the Digital Age: Regulating Emerging Tech to Ensure Robust Democratic Institutions," will explore a range of existing and potential governance mechanisms to ensure that countries such as the United States can effectively foster technological innovation... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman was named one of the Best Law Firms of its size for Minority Attorneys in a recent survey conducted by Law360. READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman professionals were in attendance for Lambda Legal's Power of the Party event, celebrating the legal organization's first year in Washington, DC.  The event included New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and a keynote address from Representative Joe Kennedy, III. Click here for more information. READ MORE
For the seventh year in a row, The Legal 500 United States 2018, recognized Van Ness Feldman as a national leader in Energy Regulatory law. READ MORE
Legislative Update Both chambers of Congress addressed hydropower licensing reform in hearings held in June 2018.  On June 7, 2018, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on improving the hydropower licensing process.  Witnesses included representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).  The hearing focused on the April 2018 “one-federal decision” Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the agencies and their work to streamline the permitting process.  FERC Office of Energy Projects Director Terry Turpin noted in his written... READ MORE
GAO Recommends that PHMSA Develop a Workforce Plan to Facilitate Effective use of Federal and State Resources for Inspecting Interstate Pipelines On May 29, the Government Accountability Office released a report finding that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has not adequately planned for future workforce needs with respect to the inspection of interstate pipelines to ensure that the agency is effectively deploying federal and state resources.  The report recommends that PHMSA develop a workforce plan for interstate pipeline inspections that is consistent with leading practices in workforce planning, and consider the additional resources and safety oversight that state pipeline officials can provide. DOT Inspector... READ MORE
UPDATE: Washington v. United States On Monday, the Supreme Court (in 4-4 decision) affirmed the Ninth Circuit decision in Washington vs. US. Since 2001, the United States, the Western Washington Treaty Tribes (“Tribes”), and the State of Washington (“State”) have been engaged in epic litigation concerning whether State owned culverts, which block fish passage, have violated the Tribes' treaty rights. In 2017, The Ninth Circuit ruled held that the State was and continues to violate the Tribes’ treaty rights by building and maintaining the State’s culverts. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court’s injunction, which required the State to remove its barrier culverts—costing the State hundreds of millions of dollars. On June... READ MORE