One of the defining issues of the twenty-first century will be the allocation of fresh water. Climate change, population growth and expansion into once rural areas, pollution, and increased per capita consumption will severely strain the water allocation systems of all states, particularly those in the West.     In “Water and Growing Cities: A Survey of Western State Water Requirements for Urban Development,” the authors - water law practitioners in eleven surveyed states – considered how their state has begun to approach these challenges.  Presented on November 4, 2017 in Waco Texas, the Article was intended to provide the 2017 Dividing the Waters General Conference a summary of each state’s approach sufficient for the attending judges to discuss... READ MORE
On October 19, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a policy statement revising its longstanding policy on establishing the length of license terms for hydroelectric projects.   The policy statement establishes a default license term of 40 years for original and new licenses for hydropower projects located at non-federal dams, with certain exceptions discussed below.  The revised license term policy ends FERC’s longstanding practice of setting the length of the license term between 30 and 50 years based on the amount of redevelopment, new construction, new capacity and environmental mitigation and enhancement measures required under the license.  The policy statement appears to leave unchanged FERC’s longstanding practice of... READ MORE
The outlook for comprehensive tax reform legislation has changed dramatically.  The release of the Unified Framework for Tax Reform, and a realistic path forward for an FY 2018 Budget Resolution with budget reconciliation instructions providing for tax reform, has changed the political outlook.  Based on our work on tax reform over the last few years, we are more positive about the prospects for tax reform in this Congress than we have been in recent years.  Lawmakers are making decisions on the details of tax reform, and companies that are concerned about the impact of the various proposals on their businesses should be talking with Members of Congress and staff now.  Over the last six months, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Ryan... READ MORE
The CSIS Energy & National Security Program and Van Ness Feldman are pleased to announce a conference on the history of vehicle efficiency standards and electricity regulation in honor of the late Robert Nordhaus. This program looks at the evolution of two policy areas in which Bob made an important mark, and which raise issues of great significance today. Van Ness Feldman partner Doug Smith is participating in a panel discussing current technology changes in the electric power sector and the lessons learned from past reform periods. The conference is being held at the CSIS headquarters in Washington, DC on October 19, 2017 from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm.  Click here for more information and to register. 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
It is with heavy hearts that we mark the passing of one of our founding fathers, Bill Van Ness, Jr. on Tuesday, November 21st.   Bill was a beloved friend, colleague, brother, father, and mentor. He was a visionary, always finding the possibilities in every circumstance, keeping those around him focused on achieving the best outcome.  His accomplishments as a legislative craftsman and lawyer are legendary and impacted countless individuals throughout his lifetime and beyond.  He seamlessly married effective representation of clients and a lifelong dedication to public service, always stressing the importance of honest advocacy and the need to listen to, address, and balance all sides of important policy issues. As meaningful as Bill’s... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman's Keturah Brown was honored by the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless for her volunteer work with at-risk Washington, DC residents.  Keturah received WLCH's Rising Star Award at a ceremony held Thursday, November 16.  The award is given to volunteers who go above and beyond to assist those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and in so doing, strengthen the mission and values of the Legal Clinic.   Keturah volunteered her time over the past several years, first as a law clerk and then as an associate, providing initial advice and ongoing advocacy to ensure that these vulnerable residents are treated fairly and have equal access to justice.   Congratulations to Keturah on this wonderful recognition of her... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman ranked "Best Law Firm in the US" in eleven areas of practice, with six areas receiving National Tier 1 honors, by US News & World Report, including Law Firm of the Year for Native American Law. READ MORE
FERC FERC Approves NERC 2018 Business Plans and Budgets - November 1 - FERC accepted the 2018 business plans and budgets for NERC, the Regional Entities, and the Western Interconnection Regional Advisory Board (WIRAB).  NERC’s 2018 Business Plan and Budget proposal, originally filed on August 23, totals $162,112,131, including $56,968,506 for NERC funding, $104,544,752 for Regional Entity funding, and $598,873 for WIRAB funding. FERC Accepts Amendments to WECC Reliability Standards Development Procedures - October 27 - FERC issued a letter order accepting amendments to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) Regional Reliability Standards Development Procedures. The amendments align WECC voting sectors with NERC voting segments, change... READ MORE
FERC Revises License Term Policy for Hydropower Projects On October 19, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a policy statement revising its longstanding policy on establishing the length of license terms for hydroelectric projects.   The policy statement generally establishes a default license term of 40 years for original and new licenses for hydropower projects located at non-federal dams.  However, FERC will consider a longer or shorter term under three circumstances.  First, FERC may adjust a license term as necessary to coordinate license terms for projects in the same river basin.  Second, FERC will defer to a license term explicitly agreed upon in a comprehensive licensing settlement agreement, provided such term... READ MORE
FERC FERC Issues NOPR on Emergency Preparedness Operations Reliability Standards - September 20 - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a rule to implement the following Emergency Preparedness and Operations (EOP) Reliability Standards: EOP-004-4 (Event Reporting) - Proposed Reliability Standard EOP-004-4 requires reporting of events by responsible entities. The reportable events under the proposed Reliability Standard are collected and used to examine the underlying causes of events; track subsequent corrective action to prevent recurrence of such events; and develop lessons learned for industry. EOP-005-3 (System Restoration from Blackstart Resources) - The purpose of proposed Reliability Standard EOP-005-3 is to ensure... READ MORE