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
On April 19, 2016, the Supreme Court affirmed the Fourth Circuit’s decision holding that a Maryland “contract for differences” subsidy program for a new generation facility was preempted by the federal regulation of generation capacity markets under the Federal Power Act. Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, LLC, 578 U.S. ___ (2016).  Background The PJM Interconnection (PJM) administers a mandatory forward capacity market in the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as other electricity markets.  Portions of Maryland fall within a constrained region within PJM’s footprint.  After several years of concern that PJM’s capacity market had failed to sufficiently incent the construction of new generation within the Maryland constraint, resulting in higher prices... READ MORE
While VNF professionals are ready to begin work at any stage of negotiations, helping clients understand basic legal concepts is a value-add that makes good sense for everyone.  This month we’re providing insight into the simple contracts that exist outside of  the complex/high-stakes transactions—namely negotiating form leases, simple purchase and sales agreements, and service contracts—many of which are part of non-lawyers’ regular days.  While no general “how-to” guide can replace contract-specific advice, the following tips for navigating basic contracts may help avoid common pitfalls. Don’t Let the Title Fool You A document that contains the title “Memorandum of Understanding” or “Agreement” does not mean it’s not a contract.   Legal... READ MORE
The Honorable Norm Dicks will be a featured speaker during the 2016 Northwest Aerospace & Defense Symposium.   The two day event will bring together both business and government leaders to discuss new developments and opportunities in the aerospace and defense arena.  For more information and to register, please click here. READ MORE
Join Kyle Danish, head of Van Ness Feldman's Climate Change practice, as he serves as a panel moderator for the Center for Strategic and International Studies program examining the implications of the upcoming Presidential elections on Energy Policy in the United States.   From CSIS: The United States is one of the largest energy producing and consuming countries in the world and a global leader on energy and climate issues. In recent years energy markets, policies, and technologies have been simultaneously responding to, and creating many changes.  These include: the precipitous rise then slowdown of Chinese economic growth and energy consumption; record high commodity prices followed by the current low price environment; the nuclear... READ MORE
The Short Course is an opportunity for planning commissioners, local government staff, elected officials, and community members to learn about Washington State's legal framework planning, comprehensive planning and community development processes, and public involvement in the planning process. Van Ness Feldman's Ray Liaw is speaking on, "The Legal Basis of Planning in Washington," and "Open Government Law." Click here for more information. 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
Matt Love, Partner  and Tyson Kade, Of Counsel, in the firm’s Land, Water and Natural Resources practice, represented a group of Alaska Native corporations, municipalities, and a regional tribal government who successfully challenged the listing of the Arctic Ringed Seal as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in U.S. District Court.    On Friday, March 11, 2016, U.S. District Judge, Ralph R. Beistline, ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Services acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by listing the Arctic ringed seal as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act citing a lack of scientific evidence that the seal population faced the threat of extinction before the year 2090.  The victory is significant to the Alaska Native... READ MORE
Contracts 101: Knowing What You Know/Don’t Know Can Make All the Difference T.C. Richmond and Ray Liaw While VNF professionals are ready to begin work at any stage of negotiations, helping clients understand basic legal concepts is a value-add that makes good sense for everyone. This month we’re providing insight into the simple contracts that exist outside of the complex/high-stakes transactions—namely negotiating form leases, simple purchase and sales agreements, and service contracts—many of which are part of non-lawyers’ regular days. While no general “how-to” guide can replace contract-specific advice, the following tips for navigating basic contracts may help avoid common pitfalls. Click here to read the full article. IN... READ MORE
FERC FERC Accepts NERC Annual Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Filing - April 14 - FERC accepted NERC’s uncontested February 23 filing of its annual Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program Report.  FERC's acceptance of the filing constitutes final agency action.   NERC Gerry Cauley Testifies on Grid Security at House Hearing - April 14 - NERC President and CEO Gerry Cauley testified at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Building and Emergency Management on the country's preparedness for cyber-attack or other failures of the electrical grid.  Mr. Cauley's testimony focused on the range of tools utilized by NERC to address reliability challenges facing the bulk electric power system.  Representatives from... READ MORE
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Reports Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Bill On April 20, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously reported H.R. 4937, Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016, reauthorizing appropriations for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) pipeline safety programs through FY 2019.  Notably, the bill would provide PHMSA with authority to issue industry-wide emergency orders to address “imminent hazards” without engaging in a notice-and-comment rulemaking process.  An amendment offered by Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA) would more clearly define “imminent hazards” and establish procedures under which pipeline... READ MORE