Under federal and state environmental laws, an owner of real property can be held “strictly” liable (liability without proof of fault or causation) for the entire cost of remediating soil, groundwater, or indoor air contamination. Further, a tenant whose operations are linked to contamination on real property can be held liable as an “operator” for such cleanup costs.  Relatively simple cleanups can easily run in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars, with more complicated cleanups running into millions of dollars. Given the magnitude of these potential liabilities, parties to real estate transactions should be aware of basic tools and principles to avoid or minimize environmental liability, as well as common pitfalls.  This article provides... READ MORE
On March 31, 2015, the Departments of Agriculture, the Interior, and Commerce (the Departments) issued revised interim final rules (revised rules) for expedited trial-type hearings and submission of alternative conditions under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct).  The trial-type hearings are conducted to resolve disputed issues of material fact with respect to mandatory conditions and fishway prescriptions submitted by the Departments for inclusion in a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hydropower license.  The interim final rules were initially issued in November 2005 (2005 rules).  Since then, approximately 20 hearing requests have been made, many of which have resulted in negotiated agreements with the Departments, and some of which... READ MORE
On January 30, 2015, President Obama amended Executive Order 13690, regarding federal agencies’ consideration of floodplains, to redefine the regulated floodplain and establish the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) aimed at protecting federal projects, approvals, and investments from increased flood risk associated with climate change.  Originally approved by President Carter in 1977, Executive Order 11988, required federal agencies to avoid, to the extent possible, the adverse impacts inherent in occupying the floodplain.  President Obama’s amendment significantly expands that original vision to a broader geographic area and applies more restrictive development standards with the goal of insuring that federally funded, permitted, or... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman's Jay Derr will be speaking in a panel entitled, "Transportation of Oil By Rail:  The Challenge of Developing Public Policy to Address Random Events with Potentially Catastrophic Consequences."  Mr. Derr will be providing a "developer perspective on the potential impact of revised federal, state, and local oil train regulations on proposed export projects for the Pacific Northwest."   READ MORE
Led by Paul Korman, Amy Beizer, and Emily Pitlick, Van Ness Feldman successfully represented MoGas Pipeline LLC (MoGas) as an intervenor in Missouri Public Service Commission v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that FERC properly applied its “benefits exception” test precedent when it permitted MoGas to include an acquisition premium in its initial rate base.  An acquisition premium is the amount greater than a regulated facility’s net book value that is paid to acquire it.  Generally, the recovery of an acquisition premium in pipeline rates is not allowed unless the pipeline meets FERC’s two-part “benefits exception” test.  The test permits recovery of an... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman is pleased to announce that Mona Tandon has rejoined the Firm as a partner. Ms. Tandon advises clients that own and operate crude oil and products pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and electric utilities on federal and state regulatory matters, transactional issues, general corporate matters, and legislative issues. She also represents clients in federal and state administrative litigation, and counsels energy companies on compliance with federal and state requirements, including corporate governance, infrastructure security, and risk management. She also assists clients with issues regarding project development and acquisitions.  Ms. Tandon is an active participant in the firm’s pro bono practice and a member of the diversity... READ MORE
Almost a decade ago, Van Ness Feldman’s Alan Mintz started drafting a piece of legislation intended to resolve and finalize the indigenous land claims of Sealaska Corporation.  Today, at around 5 p.m., the U.S. Senate passed that legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, on a vote of 89-11.  It now goes to the President for his signature.  The firm serves as Washington, DC counsel to Sealaska, the regional Native Corporation for southeastern Alaska (which includes 20,000 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribal member shareholders), representing the company on government relations matters before Congress and federal agencies.  The legislation authorizes Sealaska to select 70,000 acres of land in the Tongass National Forest in... READ MORE