On August 15, 2014, a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit or Court) unanimously denied the appeals of forty-five petitioners and sixteen intervenors, upholding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Order No. 1000.  South Carolina Public Service Authority v. FERC, Nos. 12-1232 et al. (D.C. Cir. Aug. 15, 2014).  FERC’s landmark rulemaking, issued in August 2011 and supplemented thereafter by Order Nos. 1000-A and 1000-B, implemented a series of significant reforms related to the regional and interregional planning and development of electric transmission facilities, including mandatory cost allocation to beneficiaries of new transmission projects and the elimination of... READ MORE
In a reprise of the 2009 case Illinois Commerce Commission v. FERC (ICC I), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has once again set aside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of the PJM Interconnection, LLC’s (PJM) methodology for allocating the costs of certain high voltage transmission projects planned and approved by PJM before February 1, 2013.  The case raises questions about what analysis of benefits is needed to show that a particular cost allocation will be “roughly commensurate” with the distribution of benefits, and in particular what support is required for proposals to “socialize” transmission project costs among the utilities within a regional transmission organization or other regional... READ MORE
On June 19, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a declaratory order holding that the Federal Power Act (FPA) preempts state and local regulatory authority over a hydropower project under Washington State’s Shoreline Management Act (SMA).  FERC’s order resolves potentially significant delays in construction of the hydropower project under state law and allows construction to proceed immediately as authorized under the FERC license. Van Ness Feldman authored the petition for declaratory order. Background The Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County, Washington (the District) received a 10-year pilot license from FERC for the Admiralty Inlet Pilot Tidal Project (Project) on March 20, 2014.  The 600-kilowatt... READ MORE
With nearly 2,000 participants, AASHE's annual conference is the largest gathering of higher education sustainability professionals and students in North America. In one of the most innovative sustainable cities in North America, attendees from around the world will come together at AASHE 2014 to network and share new innovations, activities, frameworks, learning outcomes, tools, strategies, research, theory and leadership initiatives that are changing the face of sustainability on their campus and surrounding communities. Partner T.C. Richmond will join representatives from Second Nature to speak on Campus, Community & Corporate Partnerships for Climate Adaptation and Resilience. To learn more about the event and to register, click here. READ MORE
Susan Olenchuk and Robert Christin will both lead sessions on ratemaking under the Natural Gas Act during New Mexico State University's "The Basics of Natural Gas Pipeline Ratemaking Course".  The course is designed to capture the nuances of the natural gas industry and includes the following topics: Overview of the Natural Gas Pipeline Industry FERC Ratemaking Authority Under the Natural Gas Act FERC's Step-by-Step Process of Determining Rates FERC Regulation of Pipeline Construction   For more information and to register, please visit New Mexico State University's website. READ MORE
If you have an interest in rivers, hydropower, fish, or the environment, you will not want to miss the Seminar Group's Comprehensive Review of Hydropower in the Northwest Conference. Hydropower is a critical source of power generation in the Northwest. New developments such as deconstruction of dams, Washington’s Initiative 937  requiring large utilities to use “Eligible Renewable Resources,” and the side effects from dam building and operation underscore environmental and other problems with hydropower.  Join Van Ness Feldman attorneys Matthew Love and Malcolm McLellan as they examine current tidal energy proposals, the status of hydro litigation, and power purchase and sales strategies. This conference will cover a wide range of issues under the... READ MORE
Earlier this week, the Diverse Environmental Leaders (DEL) National Speakers Bureau held their official launch event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.   The organization aims to provide expertise in engaging diverse communities and presenting best practices for successful outreach to increase awareness and stewardship of public lands throughout the country.  The firm is a proud sponsor of the DEL’s efforts to raise awareness of environmental conservation issues through greater inclusion efforts. For more information about the DEL National Speakers Bureau, visit their website here. READ MORE
Washington, D.C. and Seattle, WA– Van Ness Feldman is pleased to announce that this year thirty-one lawyers from the firm have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2015 (Copyright 2014 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.) in the practice areas of Energy, Environmental, Government Relations, Land Use and Zoning Law, Litigation - Environmental, Litigation – Land Use and Zoning,  Litigation – Real Estate,  Native American, Natural Resources, Oil and Gas, Real Estate, and Water Law.   Since its inception in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.  Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey in which more than 41,000 leading attorneys cast over 3.9 million... READ MORE
The Washington State Department of Ecology just re-issued the general permits that regulate discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) in Western Washington.  The re-issued permits will require local governments in Western Washington to make changes in their regulation and management of polluted stormwater runoff. As explained by Ecology, the agency re-issued the permits in response to the recent resolution of administrative appeals of the permits, which were originally issued in 2012. The changes will affect how local governments will implement requirements related to watershed planning, Low Impact Development (LID) techniques such as green roofs and rain gardens, and other issues. Ecology has also modified the Stormwater... READ MORE