On August 8, 2017, a Delaware Chancery Judge ruled that investors in Plains All American Pipeline LP (“Plains”) are entitled to review the company’s books and records following a 2015 oil spill that resulted from a pipeline breach.  The court found that investors had demonstrated a “credible basis” to investigate whether the incident was the result of corporate mismanagement.  This decision is a reminder that after a serious safety or environmental incident, companies may face investigations from a broad range of stakeholders seeking accountability, and courts may establish very low bars to the ability of investors to obtain corporate records relating to such incidents.  The decision reinforces the reasons that robust safety and compliance cultures... READ MORE
On August 4, 2017, the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) announced that it was repealing a 2016 final rule (“2017 Valuation Rule”) that sought to reform the Federal government’s approach to oil, gas, and coal royalty valuation and reporting and that had gone into effect on January 1, 2017.  The 2017 Valuation Rule sought to close what some considered a loophole that allowed coal companies to sell coal at artificially low prices to affiliated entities (with reduced royalty payments to the federal government), by instead requiring coal and gas to be valued based on the first arm’s-length disposition. To justify the repeal, DOI stated that after the 2017 Valuation Rule had been published, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (“ONRR”) “discovered... READ MORE
In the wake of the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, a number of governors and mayors have pledged to come forward with ambitious climate policies and programs.  California Governor Jerry Brown has been the drum major at the head of this parade of subnational climate warriors.  On July 17, he scored a significant victory when the California legislature extended the state’s flagship multi-sector greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program through 2030.  The bill extending the program garnered two-thirds majorities in both the Senate and the Assembly, which reinforces the legal and political foundation for cap-and-trade in California.  The program is now a primary means of meeting the state’s ambitious 2030 emission limit... 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
Washington, D.C. and Seattle– Van Ness Feldman is pleased to announce that this year over half of the firm’s partners have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2018 (Copyright 2017 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.).  This year’s honorees are ranked in the following practice areas: Energy, Energy-Regulatory, 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, Transportation, Utility and Water Law.  Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence utilizing an exhaustive peer-review survey in which more than 41,000 leading... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman LLP is pleased to announce that Nancy Macan McNally has been appointed Managing Principal of the Washington, DC Office.  READ MORE
Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, former Chief of Staff to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, will be joining the firm as a partner in Washington, DC. READ MORE
FERC FERC Quorum Restored - August 10 - The Senate confirmed Neil Chatterjee and Robert F. Powelson as FERC Commissioners on August 4.  President Trump named Chatterjee as Chairman, and with the swearing in of Chatterjee on August 8 and Powelson on August 10, FERC’s quorum has been restored. NERC NERC Board Approves Business Plan and Budget at Quarterly Meeting - August 10 - At its quarterly meeting, the NERC Board of Trustees approved NERC’s 2018 Business Plan and Budget, which includes funding that, supports the long-term strategy for the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center.   NERC Board Standards Actions – August 10 – The NERC Board of Trustees:  Adopted one new standard:  CIP-013-1, Supply Chain Risk Management... READ MORE
Drue Pearce Named PHMSA Deputy Administrator Ms. Drue Pearce was named the Deputy Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) effective August 7.  Ms. Pearce joins PHMSA from private practice.  She previously served for 17 years in the Alaska Legislature, including two terms as the Senate President.  During the administration of George W. Bush, she served at the Senior Advisor to Department of Interior Secretaries Gale Norton and Dirk Kempthorne, advising primarily on Alaska Affairs.  She was the first Federal Coordinator in the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System Projects.  Ms. Pearce also served on PHMSA’s Technical Hazardous Pipeline Safety Standards Committee... 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.  Commissioner Honorable departed the Commission upon the expiration of her term on June 30, 2017, leaving LaFleur, a Democrat, as the sole... READ MORE